Listen you, we need to have a talk. You are not "just" a corporate software developer. Today you shed that narrative and you begin a new one. One that is more empowering, one that is more resilient, one that will lead to more success, and one that will eventually let you quit without burning bridges.
Repeat after me:
I am not a corporate software developer.
I am not a pair of hands.
I am not a cog.
I am irreplaceable.
I am valuable.
I am an internal software consultant.
Internalize this belief. Print it out and pin it next to your monitor so you see it every day. (Or I dunno, add it to your bash profile so you see it every time you open the terminal. Whatever works.)
What does it mean to be an internal software consultant?
It means a lot of things. They understand the value they add. They are curious. They ask questions. They gently challenge the status quo. They do this in a way that seeks to make a positive change. They set boundaries. They focus on important, not urgent work. They develop others. They build authority. They work smarter, not harder.
They make themselves valuable and irreplaceable. That doesn't mean they won't be replaced, it means when they are replaced, there remains a person-sized void in the culture. They leave a legacy behind. Whispers of their name echo in the halls of Slack.
Someone who is irreplaceable is granted the ability to cast high-level spells within the company like: taking a sabbatical, working remotely, working less hours, negotiating for higher pay or vacation, or being more choosy in what they work on.
Outgrowing your career
An internal software consultant could choose to stay if they find the work fulfilling. But they don't have to. They have the freedom to choose other paths.
They might retire early, launch a product, join a startup, start a lifestyle business, or strike out on their own as a soloist consultant. They can do any of these things and more because they leveled up in more than "just" being a developer, they leveled up in business: marketing, sales, finance, communication, and leadership.
What's the alternative?
The alternative is: doing what you're doing and hoping things will change.
The alternative is: day after day, for 8 hours a day, trying to convince yourself you're not on a golden hamster wheel until age 65.
NO. YOU. ARE NOT. A GODDAMN HAMSTER.
You're a person who has worth. And you deserve more. I believe developers (all of them) have an inner software consultant waiting to be unleashed. It just needs to be teased out.
It is not an easy path but I can promise it's a happy path to quitting corporate life.