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Things You Know Now…

Someone tagged me, and I’ve lost the email in all the pile up from vacation where I was very, very unwired from work, despite being wired to the world. Actually I’ll make that one my first thing:

Know When to Walk Away

Not quit, not stop progressing on something or giving up, but knowing how to take a break, regular breaks. Early in my career I worked lots of extra hours, partially to impress people, partially to learn, and partially because I thought I might miss something and I had time. That’s probably part of being young, but I wish that I’d still learned to take my vacation, enjoy it, and make more time for things outside of work.

My wife taught me this.

Interview Companies

Throughout most of my life before 32 or 33 years old, I took jobs as they were offered. I looked for new opportunities, but I worried about the opportunity and almost solely the opportunity (the challenge, the size of the database, etc.).

As a result in interviews I worried, I studied and crammed and tried to be the “perfect employee,” answering their questions, not asking many of my own and giving them no reason to avoid offering me a job.

Looking back I wish I’d interviewed the companies harder. I wished I’d been looking for jobs before I needed them, been more discriminating, talked to more people in the company, and really pushed them to match my needs as much as I tried to match theirs.

I learned this when I took a job to move to CO that really wrecked a good portion of my life and I quit. I slept in my office a half dozen times the first year, had bad management, and while I learned a lot, I think I could have done better. I’ve done this well for the last 8 or 9 years.

Give Back

Some of this requires that you succeed in your own life and career, but I think that along the way you should be looking for ways go give back to the community.

Early in my career I was never that interested in participating in user groups, and I often let people stumble more to figure out their own solutions instead of speaking up and giving them more of a helping hand. Over the years, I’ve learned I should have done more to help others along the way, and give back as I could.

Play Your Own Game

This is more of a business item, but I wish I’d learned earlier to focus on what I wanted to succeed in and play my game instead of trying so hard to please others. Not sure I’ve completely learned to do this, but I wish I’d have had someone to teach me this early on.

Thanks to Andy Warren for this one.

I have no idea who’s been tagged, so I’ll just leave this off here.

The Voice of the DBA

Steve Jones is the editor of SQLServerCentral.com and visits a wide variety of data related topics in his daily editorial. Steve has spent years working as a DBA and general purpose Windows administrator, primarily working with SQL Server since it was ported from Sybase in 1990. You can follow Steve on Twitter at twitter.com/way0utwest


Posted by eric.donofrio on 16 February 2009

Thanks, Steve, for the words of caution.  I'm a young guy in a similar situation to the one that you've described.  My wife, too, is helping me learn a better work/life balance, and I think your article has helped shed some light/ foresight...

Posted by Steve Jones on 16 February 2009

Glad it helps and hope you find a good balance.

Posted by andreq on 17 February 2009

Here's a big one: don't be cocky. No matter how much you think you know, there's always that one situation you didn't account for, and your status goes way down in your company. Its a bigger fall, if you separated yourself from co-workers and are perceived as feeling yourself above others. The cut may not happen in the next month or two, but know you are marked. I've seen this happen a few times to others.

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