Monday, September 19, 2005

Programmers: A suggestion for your health

I have a co-worker who always seems really high strung. In a recent conversation I offered him some advice that I feel I should share. All too often I come across IT folks who really go overboard with the whole stress thing. I have known guys who have literally killed themselves programming (no joke). I am sure this is not just confined within the IT field either. And to me this is all stress that they bring upon themselves. This is no way to live folks. I have been in this industry for well over 10 years; so I will offer this advice, take up a hobby. And make sure it is as far away from computers as possible.

I love programming and I am very passionate about it. To me its not a job, but it is something I do because I really love it. But I do other things as well. For example, I have been in martial arts for about 5 years and try to attend classes at least 3 times a week. I have also taken up playing golf, usually trying to go out at least once a week to either go play a round or go to the driving range. Both the martial arts and golf are great stress relievers and they provide a good source of exercise.

Taking up a hobby is not only a great release physically and mentally; it is also an excellent social tool. Out on the golf course and in the dojo I meet quite a few interesting individuals ranging from Doctors to Students. Interacting with actual people provides great experience and helps to build your communication skills. It is easier to communicate with people who have like interests, so you quickly learn how to feel people out to find a common ground. Years ago when I played guitar, I used to come across fellow musicians and hook up for jam sessions and go out for drinks. Some of these people are still friends of mine to this day. People in my social network provide information that I can use for myself or to help someone else. A good representation of this concept is recently one these associates was looking for a 3D modeler and asked if I knew anyone. I was able to refer another friend of mine and he was hired. This is the hidden job market in action, and this would have never taken place had I not built these relationships.

I also highly recommend trying to take a vacation at least once a year. I’m not talking about taking time off of work and sitting at home playing video games, I mean actually going someplace. Take a trip to someplace that you would like to go. These provide excellent stories and life experience. I try to travel with people whenever possible, group outings are a lot more fun than the solo adventure, although both have their advantages. If you have a hobby, make you trip a themed one. For instance, I plan on taking a weekend to go to a golf resort in Dallas sometime during the fall season.


Richard Bejtlich said...

Hi John,

I am considering taking up kenp again, after about 4 years off. I miss doing real martial arts. At the moment I need to have some knee, hip, and should injuries treated, but I would like to start training again at the end of the year at the local kenpo school.

Rick Guidry said...

Hey John:

I wonder if this is referring to anyone I know. ;)

All kidding aside, I couldn't agree with you more. Not only that, but this holds true for ANY career field (as they can all be stressful at times).

To relieve my stresses of life, I try to get down to the coast, (Jeepin' and Campin' on the beach) as often as possible. Getting outdoors and back to nature is one of the best stress relievers around.

Besides 4-Wheeling and camping under the stars, as you know, I love playing Chess. It is a great pastime, that I strongly recommend to everyone. Although, if taken too seriously, it can be a bit stressful as well.

Thanx for this blog, and for being there for all of us. You are a great mentor and even better friend.

You are doing an Awesome Job here!