I'm trying to work something out which isn't quite covered in any of the other "contractor vs employee" threads. In a nutshell: Is there a natural (possibly even hard-wired and inborn) tendency for people to be meant for one or the other?
A bit of background: I suffered a serious burnout over the past couple of years and am taking a sabbatical this year to think things over. With all the reflection I'm coming to the conclusion more and more that I'm just not cut out for the permanent, salaried kind of life. Essentially, I think I just don't have the "employee mentality". No matter how good a job is, I just seem to have some visceral, deep-seated need to move around and not be tied down to the same scenery. I'm great in the first year or two when things are fresh, but after that, it just starts to feel really boring and obnoxious to be stuck in the same routine, looking at the same code base, etc, no matter how good the job seems on paper. Most people seem to get into a groove where the stability compensates for any "contempt of familiarity" or boredom, but for me it's almost the opposite.
This answer to one of my other questions (broadly related to this subject) really got my attention: it feels like I could basically be what they call a "hunter" type, a kind of "slow motion ADHD" case. I'm great at focusing on things I'm really interested in, and I'm not afraid of working hard. But it has to come packaged with a beginning, progression and end - on a short to midterm time frame. The typical salaried environment, which in software development generally means open-ended "maintenance mode", very quickly does my head in, after the first year or two in a new job. I start losing motivation and focus, and eventually slide into burnout.
So basically what I'm asking is - do you think this farmer versus hunter theory is real? Not necessarily in a formal clinical psychiatric sense, but just from your subjective experiences? I'd especially like to hear from contractors, or people who have done both. Are you doing it simply because the opportunity is good, and you could do the same job permanently everything else being the same. Or do you have this feeling/mentality like me - that being tied down in the same scenery would drain your soul?
Related question: Do people generally stick with one or the other? Or do they do both? It seems to me that most people are either employees or contractors/consultants for most of their careers, and that an overlap who do both at will is quite small. I can't find any data to back this up, it's just an impression I've got - and I find it very curious - because it seems to lend support for this idea that people just naturally/viscerally seem to have tendencies to shine in one or the other "model" of working.
EDIT: Thanks for the responses. I think it's quite true that what burns me out is an underlying feeling of dissatisfaction with working for someone else in a typical "command and control" business environment. All the jobs I've ever had were permanent gigs which basically fit that pattern - developers treated like factory workers (some places worse than others, but always essentially true) - eg. doing what you're told without much autonomy or self-actualizing purpose. That said, I think I'll still look into doing contracting to see how it works for me compared with permanent gigs. It's probably not perfect, but I think the independence would at least keep things interesting - it took a long time in the same rut before it got to this point where I burned out and became too dysfunctional to work at all. Constant lateral movement may at least keep it under control.