I burned out last year (after a decade of fulltime programming jobs) and am on a sabbatical now. With all the self-examination I've started to figure out some of the root causes of my burnout, and one of the major ones is basically this: there was never any real closure in any of the work I've ever done. It was always a case of getting into an open-ended support/maintenance grind and going stale.
When I first entered the industry, I had this image of programming work being very project-based. And I expected projects to have a start, beginning, and END. And then you move on and start on something totally new and fresh. Basically I never expected that a lot (most) of software work involves supporting and maintaining the same code base for open-ended long periods of time - years and even decades. That, combined with generally having itchy feet makes me think that burnout is inevitable for me, after 2-3 years, in ANY fulltime software job.
All this sounds like I probably should have been a contractor instead of a fulltimer. But when I discuss this with people, a lot of them say that even THEN you can't really escape having to go back and maintain/support the stuff you worked on, over and over (eg. Coming back on support contracts, for example). The nature of software work is simply like that. There is no project closure, unlike in many other engineering fields.
So my question is - Is there ANY programming work out there which is based on short to mid term projects/stints and then moving on cleanly? And is there any particular industry domain or specialization where this kind of project work is typical?