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Making Choices

By Steve Jones,

I wrote about shutting down some travel for the foreseeable future. Its been a long couple of years for me. If you look at my speaking schedule, I've presented at an average of 20+ events for the last few years. This year was a few less, but I've had more travel outside of that. By the end of the year, I'll have spent 9 weeks outside of the US. While some of that is vacation, it's a lot of time away from home. In addition to the events, I've had other travel for work that doesn't appear there, as well as some vacation time for volleyball (my daughter competes) and family time.

Lately I've been seeing all the tweets and posts about SQL Bits 2018. I won't be going, which is sad for me. I love the event, it's my favorite and my wife would love to go with me sometime, maybe in 2018. As I see speakers submitting and the excitement building, it feels like I should just send in a session, but I realize I need to stick with my decision.

Making choices is hard. For a couple years I've been saying  I need to travel a bit less, but I haven't done a good job of slowing down my travel. I find that I've done that with other work demands in the past (and personal ones), and I see plenty of other people doing the same thing. This fall I made the commitment that I'd limit travel next year, and I talked to my manager as well. We agreed on a plan, and she's holding me to the plan, even when I get a bit excited about new events.

My current job allows me some flexibility in how I work, but in past jobs I've had similar ways that I could change my job, if I made the effort do so. Your employer will ask a lot of you, and often keep asking. I've certainly had some bosses that were unreasonable and demanded too much, but most were willing to work with me. It took me a number of years to learn to push back and say no, as well as learn to make choices among different situations. I find if I don't make choices, I'll tend to over commit and under deliver, while being disappointed in myself that I couldn't make it all work. Or I become a little burned out, spending too much time trying to keep all the balls in the air and running myself ragged.

Balance is important, not only between work and life, but also within work. I find that the more I make choices and stick with them, the better adjusted I am in all of my life. I'm a little sad that I won't speak at as many events next year, but I'll pick and choose a few, and hopefully get some things done at work that I've been putting off. I'm also hoping that life will seem less chaotic and busy in general, with a little more time to relax and smell the sawdust.

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