I recently posted on Facebook that I was a workaholic and that fact wasn’t going to change anytime soon because I was having such a great time. Today, I read this article talking about programmers’ work ethics driving them crazy to the point that they can no longer work. The article points to two factors: the imposter syndrome and the “real programmer” mentality, discussed recently on Reddit.
The imposter syndrome has convinced those of us affected by it that we are not as good as our peers. I have to say I am very guilty of this, but every once in a while I realize that I am trying to compare myself to the most brilliant folks in the business. There is no point in doing that. I’m never going to be as good as Andy Leonard at SSIS, Itzik Ben Gan at T-SQL, Kalen Delaney at internals, Stacia Misner at SSAS… and on and on and on. I’ll never be as good as they are at their specialties, but I do have skills and good qualities. Well, sometimes I think I do. SQL Server is a GIGANTIC product. If there is a person who has mastered all of it, he or she has yet to come forward. But still, this self-doubt is the source of much anxiety for me.
The second issue is the “real programmer” mentality. This means that real programmers love their work so much that they spend as many waking hours as possible coding. Or, at least to be seen as a “real programmer” where they work, they must be ready to work insane hours, weekends, nights – whatever it takes. I also suspect that some developers are somewhat addicted to coding, similar to video games. I know it is hard for me to step away when I am “in the zone.”
Right now, at Pragmatic Works, I am consulting 40 hours a week. I don’t get called on weekends. I’m not expected to work late hours. It’s pretty nice. I have been in a job that I felt tethered to and had to be reachable 24/7. When a big project, like a merger, came up, we were expected to work almost every weekend and to not take any time off for months. I have to say that eventually, I got burnt out and had to get away. My former colleagues are still putting up with this.
So, why did I say I was a workaholic if I am only putting in 40 hours a week consulting? Well, a lot of my time outside of work is spent writing, developing presentations, learning new skills, or actually presenting. I spend about 20 hours a week on those activities. These extra-curricular activities are what I really love to do right now, and I do think that my community activities are important. Besides being what I love to do, they are benefitting many people who learn from me. There are so many people who need help learning SQL Server and other technologies. If people like myself did not produce this content, how would they learn? Not everyone can be an author or a speaker. Not everyone can be a leader.
So, of course I spend time with my family. I have three sweet grandchildren (and one more on the way!), and I try to be a pretty cool grandmother. I love getting outside to walk or ride my bicycle. I get together with my sisters and brothers for Karaoke nights. I also have “no computer” weekends from time to time. Yes, I guess I am a workaholic, but I am having a ton of fun doing what I love to do.