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DBAs and the Career-Life Balance

By Brad McGehee,

I know a lot of DBAs who make SQL Server the focus of their life. In many ways, if you want to be an exceptional DBA, and stand out from the crowd, you don’t have a lot of choice about devoting a lot of time to your career. There are many reasons for this. For example, the nature of the DBA’s job often requires working long hours, working weekends, and being on call 24/7. Then there is the need to continually increase your knowledge, especially as SQL Server continues to become more bloated with features with every new release. And if you are involved in volunteering for the SQL Server community, time commitments can be huge.

Of course, there are many careers other than being a DBA that consume a lot of time, so the question I want to pose to you applies to many different careers. And the question is: "Are you focusing too much time on your career to the exclusion of doing other important things in your life?" For example, is it more important to attend a SQL Saturday, or go to the park with your family? Is it more important to keep up reading the latest blog posts, or to relax and watch a good movie? Is it more important to download SQL Server 2012 on your home computer and learn it than working on a hobby that you enjoy? These are all difficult questions that DBAs make on a daily basis.

In the SQL Server community, I know of a handful of DBAs who seem to be able to do it all. They are exceptional DBAs who excel at whatever they do, and at the same time, they also seem to have a non-SQL Server-related life that they enjoy. They have the best of both worlds. In other cases, I have seen DBAs who work very hard, devoting virtually all their time to their career, shining brightly, but only briefly, before burning out, and you never hear from them again.

Of course, most of us fall between these two extremes, and we are constantly trying to figure out how to best balance our career with our life. But this is not an easy task, Because of this, I thought it would be interesting to ask for advice on how you balance your career and your life. Share with us the problems you have faced with this balancing act, and how you have successfully resolved them. Or, perhaps if you are still figuring out how to balance everything, and you haven’t figured it out, feel free to share your problems so that perhaps others may offer advice. I know that I still have a lot to learn about this topic, and I am eager to learn from you.

Brad M McGehee

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