I've come to ask myself the above question recently as I've entered what's now my 15th year of writing software for the Web. Though I've only recently started asking that question (recently as in the past week or so) I suppose it's been in the back of my mind for at least the past year. Probably longer if I'm being honest. My lament is likely not that uncommon and it's likely just the truth of what happens when what was once a hobby has turned into a long-term career.
I'll start by clarifying that I still love what I do; and especially doing it at Netflix. Nowhere have I worked with a more talented group on more interesting problems and I find myself extremely satisfied in my career at this moment. But if that's the case, why do I suspect I may be burned (or burning) out?
Easy, I've got a stack of ideas for personal projects a mile high that I've been "meaning to get to" for years. But every time I sit down at my computer at home to start one after my son has gone to bed, I find myself far more interested in playing a video game, watching a movie, or basically just lounging around the house with my wife. None of this is particularly troubling; except for the longevity of my disinterest in pursuing my own personal projects. For at least one of them, I've been sitting on the idea (and domain name) for over a year with absolutely no progress.
For quite some time, I've simply chalked it up to being fulfilled at work: my desire to build software is sated by my "day job" and I'm simply yearning for something different in the evenings when I come home. Fulfillment may yet be the case; I certainly have plenty of motivating factors at home for doing other things (playing with my son, spending what remains of the evening with my wife, etc.); but, if I'm continuing to be honest, I spend a good bit of that time in pure "veg" mode. My wife loves hanging out "old people / parents" style in the evenings reading a book or playing Little Big Planet while I replay some old Final Fantasy game, and while we are spending time together, we certainly aren't actively engaged with each other in some activity. I could just as easily pull out my laptop and do some coding (or blogging as the case is right this moment) with Little Big Planet's catchy music playing in the background. But I don't.
Which is why I'm starting to wonder if I'm dealing with burnout. Right now it's not affecting my work-life in the slightest; but I'm (naturally) concerned that if I am showing early (or maybe not-so-early) signs of burnout that it may grow to affect me at work as well. Basically, I'm starting to take it seriously and ask myself the bigger question: assuming that I am burning out, how can I nip it in the bud before it becomes a really bad situation?