I’m going to try my best at this topic even knowing I have my own issues with it on several occasions. I was recently reminded of the stress and focus issues we have in IT. This goes as far as questioning our abilities, accomplishments and future goals in life regarding our careers. I myself have to admit that I go through this once in a while. Our fields are probably the most stressful and short lived in the workforce. This makes staying the course ever so much more difficult. For a brief period in our immature career, we feed off our intelligence to get us through the trivial aspects that come with technology and the demands on it. Often though, when it comes to holding ourselves in our positions for some time, we start questioning why we are pulling the typical 14+ hours a day just to get our jobs done. Several of us join forums, new groups, blog often and or use tools like twitter to keep our spirits up but this at some point doesn’t help and we still fall victim to the question, “Why am I doing this?”
OK. I don’t have the answer to fixing that. I won’t even try to say how you can or where to begin on trying to get yourself out of it. My specialties are in development and database servers and far from psychology. Why I’m writing this is purely in hopes someone will read it when they find themselves there and just from knowing others in our field fall into the same place, will help them crawl back out. I say crawl because even climbing is far fetched in getting yourself back on track.
One of the greatest problems of falling into this is of course letting your work fall with you. At all costs you have to do your best to not let this happen. Your work is your badge of honor. Wear it like one and be proud of it. Even when you find yourself in the hardest of times and have little care for what you are doing, you must remember that what you’ve done so far in your career has been an asset to all of us. Yes, I may never come across a SQL Job that you wrote or a web service that I need to consume. I may never see your handle on the forums or read your blogs, but someone will and that someone at that point in time held you with great respect and you and you alone left your mark on them and the task they had at hand. You probably see this leading to attempts of pulling yourself back into loving what it is you do. Blogging, helping on forums and even twitter can do these for you. Another thing I like to try out when I fall into the slump is grabbing something I have no clue on how to use it and run with it. 8 or so years ago I was really hard on if I really wanted to be a developer any longer. Python saved me from leaving IT all together probably. I had serious doubts if being a .NET developer or developer period was what I wanted to do. Users and the stress of deadlines and figuring out how to make it work just had taken its toll on me. That was a hard time for me but I managed to find Python and is reminded me just how cool our jobs are and the reason we do it. There aren’t many other fields you have hundreds of technologies you can put to test and use in even your production systems. This goes back to the, “5 ways to do anything” saying. You know, if you never learned batch scripting and you are sick of .NET, grab a scripting blog or article and write that file process in batch. Big deal if it takes 100 milliseconds slower than .NET or only uses 2MB of memory instead of 20GB! It will feel good not only accomplishing the task but accomplishing your personal gains in knowledge and expertise.
So reading back everything I just scribbled out, I didn’t come up with an answer for you. I didn’ t even come close to actually giving you the all mighty wisdom of fix me or I quit attitude. I can say one thing though. Even writing this helped me remember why I worked so hard in school while working full-time and starting my family off. What we do really is that enjoyable and you have to let the stress and lack of ambition fly by you when it seems to stop at your cube. Really, it’s far too important for all of us to keep doing what we do. Don’t let the thoughts that it isn’ t slip into your head because I for one know if you aren’t doing what you’re good at, it would stress me out a great deal to pick up after you 😉