I write a fair amount about career issues. It’s one of the largest tags in my word cloud, and I’m proud of that. I’ve seen too many people in bad jobs for too long, had a few myself, watched my wife work far too hard at times, and lost friends because of a lack of time. All of those experiences have caused me to really think hard about life and how I approach work.
Don’t get me wrong. I like work, I enjoy what I do, I have a great time writing code and queries and think technology is a great career choice. That being said, it can be a hard job. There are demands to work long hours and holidays, often to deploy changes when the workload is low. Some years, I’ve worked as many holidays and weekends in this business as I used to when working in restaurants.
That being said, we often think of this as an “easy” job in many ways. We work in offices. We’re well compensated. We don’t have a lot of physical demands, and we can do this job will into our later years if we choose. If you’ve ever worked in a job that requires more physical effort such as construction, you appreciate the ease with which our days pass. If you’ve ever had a boring job, such as staring at the x-ray screen in airport security, you’ll likewise realize most of us are lucky that we get to exercise our brains.
That doesn’t mean this job isn’t hard. In fact, burnout and high stress are real problems in technology. While some industries might worry about their people getting enough done when working remote, our industry has too many people that don’t know how to stop working. I thought about this as I was reading a post on burnout and looking out for yourself.
Many of us that work in technology are too sedentary. We sit at desks, we work odd hours and often subsist on poor diets that we’ve built during a lifetime of late night coding sessions. We also accept more blame, demands, stress, and accountability than we should. While I don’t know too many people that have had serious health issues from this work, I do know a few. I also know far too many people that have passed away before they reached 50.
The downsides of this work can creep up on you. I know I felt a little burned out last year, from too much travel, too many balls being juggled, too much pressure. I made a conscious effort to slow things down and I’m much happier this year. I try to exercise and eat (slightly) better on a regular basis, balancing that out as best I can.
We work to live, not the other way around. Whether you need fewer responsibilities, more exercise, new hobbies, better connections with friends and family, strong mental health care, or something else, make sure you take care of yourself in this life. It’s the only one you get.