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Disillusioned With IT? 1027

cgh4be writes "I have been working in the IT industry for about 12 years and have had various jobs as a consultant and systems engineer. Over that time I've had the chance to do a little bit of everything: programming, networking, SAN, Linux/AIX/UNIX, Windows, sales, support, and on and on. However, over the last couple of months I have become a little disillusioned with the IT industry as a whole. Occasionally, I will get interested in some new technology, but for the most part I'm starting to find it all very tedious, repetitive, and boring and I'm no longer really interested in the hands-on aspect of the business. I suppose going the management route is one option, but I would still be dealing with a lot of the same frustrating technology issues. The other route I had in mind was a complete career change; take something I really enjoy doing outside of work now and try to make a career out of it. The only problem is that I have a wife and kid to support and my current job pays very well. Have any of you been through this kind of career 'mid-life crisis?' What did you do to get out of the rut? Is making a complete career change at this point a bad idea?"
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Disillusioned With IT?

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  • My vote... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jnutt ( 1255822 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:07PM (#23243184)
    Do what you love. In the end it is all that matters.
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:13PM (#23243300) Journal
      Do what you love. In the end it is all that matters.

      But pr0n don't pay if you are male

    • If you want to do what you love for all of your life, you shouldn't have kids. The moment you have kids, what you love no longer matters anymore.

      The moment you have kids, all your hopes, your dreams, you can throw all of it in the trash. Once you have those kids your purpose in life is those kids and nothing else matters besides those kids.

      Just because you feel like doing something else it doesn't change the fact that your purpose in life is to protect your family (your kids). It does not change the fact th
      • by gunnk ( 463227 ) <gunnk AT mail DOT fpg DOT unc DOT edu> on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:36PM (#23243720) Homepage
        You are oversimplying -- dangerously so, I think.

        Your kids MUST be your number one priority, but should NOT be your only purpose.

        If they are, there won't be much left of you or your marriage or your future once they leave the nest.

        Having only one point to your existence is unhealthy. Your kids your first priority? Good. The only purpose? Bad -- even for the kids.
      • by SleepingWaterBear ( 1152169 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:40PM (#23243796)

        You're making the implicit, and totally unwarranted, assumption that the sole measure of a father's success is his ability to bring in money. Dropping out of IT might mean a drop in income, but it doesn't mean he can't find a different way to make money, which is what I assume he intends. There is absolutely no reason to think that he can't raise his children to be at least as healthy and happy on a smaller income.

        Depending on what he goes into, he may end up with more time to devote to his family, which is worth more than money.

        I'm not saying money is irrelevant, but it is not nearly so important as some people make it out to be.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rnturn ( 11092 )

          ``Dropping out of IT might mean a drop in income, but it doesn't mean he can't find a different way to make money, which is what I assume he intends. There is absolutely no reason to think that he can't raise his children to be at least as healthy and happy on a smaller income.''

          I've been thinking along the same lines as the theme of the posted article. And I can see taking a smaller income if it means more time to spend with the family. One of my daughters was complaining the other day that "We don't g

  • by everphilski ( 877346 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:09PM (#23243196) Journal
    So you have a nice little nest egg stashed away, right? Saving for retirement? Rainy day fund? How much reserves you got to start something on your own?

    If you do, then start thinking about doing that right now while you have this well-paying job, and spend some of your evening hours developing a business plan, potential clientele, educating yourself.

    If you don't, then you need to take a few years to build that nest egg up, to be responsible to your wife and kids.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by DaedalusHKX ( 660194 )
      Therein lies the fundamental flaw of the disjointed family structure. Most modern westerners do not have a family relationship to fall back upon if disaster strikes. Most hurry and raise families, much like in "olden times" but without the support network that was once available. Raising a family while very young is the trap that lords and masters have laid into the path of the peasant since lords and masters have been around. See, once you have children, they have something they can use to keep you hon
      • by everphilski ( 877346 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:34PM (#23243686) Journal
        I have no idea what you are talking about. My only suggestion was, if he had been setting aside money over time then maybe he'd have the financial resources to consider his independant business venture. And if not, he should consider starting that savings now, while the money is good.

        Raising a family while very young is the trap that lords and masters have laid into the path of the peasant since lords and masters have been around. See, once you have children, they have something they can use to keep you honest (read, subservient, read also, shackled). See, a man who accepts that all is transient, and family comes and goes as does youth and riches and poverty, will be hard to shackle down, or to enslave.

        I'm 25. Been married for nearly 5 years. We had our first child when I was 22. Lived in this house for two years. And despite having two kids and a wife to keep me "subservient" or whatever you propose, we've paid down nearly 10% of our mortgage, and put about 25% of my net income per month away in savings and investments. It isn't hard to do if you are committed to it. Having kids early, getting married early, really isn't a strain if you are disciplined in money management. And if you aren't disciplined in money management, you'll blow it on loose women, cars, computers or beer as a single guy anyways.
        • by Glonoinha ( 587375 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:58PM (#23244092) Journal
          I think what he was saying was - since you have two children, a mortgage payment (with 90% of the original house value still outstanding), and maybe a car payment or two ... odds are if your boss comes to you and asks you to work overtime this weekend when you already have a slope-side condo booked (nonrefundable), and he leans on you real hard - odds are you are NOT going to tell him "Sorry but I'm busy this weekend; I'll be on the ski slopes if you need me." Not going to happen.

          No kids, no house payment, no car payment, $250k in the bank = you do what you want, and if you need to find another job, you find another job.

          PS - Most of my money I spent on loose women, liquor, cars, and computers. The rest I just wasted.
          • by galego ( 110613 ) <> on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @05:53PM (#23244868)
            I may not say [quote]Sorry but I'm busy this weekend; I'll be on the ski slopes if you need me.[/quote] ... but I am certainly going to require some justification and compensation for the last minute inconvenience. Any boss who cannot respect and compensate me for that sort of performance/committment/sacrifice, does not deserve to be my boss.

            No kids, no house payment, no car payment, $250k in the bank = you do what you want, and if you need to find another job, you find another job.

            And from a boss' perspective ... I wouldn't miss that person (nor expect them to be around that long anyway). They bug off anytime they are asked to make some committment or sacrifice ... 6-12 months at each job on the resume. Sure, hire them for some contract gig, but otherwise, no thanks. I've moved when I felt it was necessary. I've asked my employers to give back when I give my all. If they don't (and haven't), I move on.

    • Even if you don't have a nest-egg, reevaluate what you - and your family REALLY needs. Do you need a flat screen TV? Any TV? Do you need a car? Can a bike work instead? Do you really need 2000 square feet house? Or just 1200? Do you need to live where you do? Can you move somewhere else? How much stuff does your family need? Note that this will be something that you'll have to discuss with them in depth, and you'll have to achieve consensus.

      It's amazing how little you actually NEED, as opposed to how much y
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nwf ( 25607 )

        It's amazing how little you actually NEED, as opposed to how much you want. Once you differentiate between the two, a complete career change won't look nearly as daunting.

        Indeed, since in a first world country like the US or most of Europe, you don't need a place to live, a job or anything really else. You can beg for food or dumpster dive and live under a bridge or in shelter. That will pretty much bring you down to an income of a few dollars a month that you find while walking around all day. That's all you strictly need: a place to keep out of the rain and food.

        In fact, he may want the two cars and large screen TV more than he hates his job. It's all a trade off. They wouldn't call it work if it was always entertaining and fun. Perhaps a small change is in order, like moving to a different area or changing industries (while remaining in IT.)

  • by Tumbleweed ( 3706 ) * on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:09PM (#23243212)
    If you're in the U.S., you should look around you at what is happening to the economy, and what direction it's headed. THEN make up your mind about whether you want to change careers right now.
    • by OriginalArlen ( 726444 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:33PM (#23243672)
      If you're in the US and take a look around at what is happening to the economy, you're more likely to be out on the ledge on the 19th floor at this point.
    • by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:41PM (#23243804) Homepage
      Picture of the US economy: Homebuilders and mortgage lenders are hurting and laying people off. Health care, education, agriculture, and IT are seeing strong demand with very low unemployment.

      It should also be pointed out that
      • . Making economic predictions is extremely difficult.
      • . The US employment picture in the middle of a bad recession is still better than that of the rest of the advanced economies during boom times.
      • . A US recession is a world recession; there is nowhere to hide.
      • . A surge in the value of the Euro means EU exporters are going to get hit very hard, regardless.
  • management is calling.
    • by MetricT ( 128876 )
      I actually did this (worked on my Executive MBA, graduate in 10 days). Different strokes for different folks, but I actually enjoyed most of my classes. If you've never had classes in economics, finance, negotiations, entrepreneurship, business law, you might want to take some classes at your local community college and see how you like them. There are "business geeks" the same way there are "computer geeks" and "science geeks"; not all MBA's fit the stereotype. In fact, I would say that they were the m
  • by SleptThroughClass ( 1127287 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:10PM (#23243222) Journal

    The other route I had in mind was a complete career change; take something I really enjoy doing outside of work now and try to make a career out of it.
    Don't know if /. can answer that. All of the replies are always strictly on topic and accurate about technological issues.
    • I second this... having been in the same situation and gone the management route, I sometimes wish I'd taken the other. However, /. isn't really the place to ask for that -- ask people you know in the areas you're considering. If you don't know any people, start to build up a network -- join some online forums, join a club, etc.

      Also, consider some business management night school courses, as you'll probably need them no matter which direction you decide to take.
      • by gmack ( 197796 )
        In downtown Montreal theres a Greek guy flipping burgers. One day he tells me he opened the burger place because he got tired of the computer business.

        Same goes for the Pakistani restaurant around the corner from my house which is also run by a guy who used to be in the IT business.

        They both tell me they are happier and make better money.
  • Man Up (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <> on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:10PM (#23243226) Journal

    Occasionally, I will get interested in some new technology, but for the most part I'm starting to find it all very tedious, repetitive, and boring and I'm no longer really interested in the hands-on aspect of the business.
    I spent the majority of my childhood until I was 18 picking rock and bailing hay on a farm. You think you're in a tedious, repetitive and boring job? The fact that you're posting on Slashdot during work hours tells me otherwise. I'll bet you have air conditioning.

    I know this is a bad thing that Americans don't like to dwell on but you should be happy you have a solid source of income and work in comfortable environments. Most people outside of the industrialized world can't say that.

    The only problem is that I have a wife and kid to support and my current job pays very well.
    If you can't find joy in your job and you can't find another job with comparable income, then find joy in your family. Generations before you have worked in mills, textile plants, mines, slaughterhouses, etc. all in the name of their wives, daughters & sons living a free life. Again, if I were you, I would opt to be thankful I can provide for my family under much better circumstances (and probably at much higher pay with inflation taken into account).

    On the other hand, I recognize that the young idealist in us all strikes [] every now and then. But you've got a family and a paying job so I would recommend you focus on those aspects instead of risking them. I guess if you do decide to act on your instincts, ask them if they're willing to accept the risk for your happiness at work. They're now part of your life and depending on you so respect that and be responsible.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
      I just had a horrid flashback to all the shitty jobs I worked before I got my degree. No matter what I do now, I can always say that at least it's better than cutting tobacco, working as a janitor, or working in a convenience store.
    • Eh. You can make a good living doing something besides IT. I got into IT because I hated the fuzzy-minded crap I was doing and longed for some of that cold hard machine logic. One day I'll get sick of the hours and the work week, and do something else.

      The family thing is real, but usually if you can do something like IT then you're suited for a lot of other work as well. All you really need is a decent wage and insurance. Lot of times you can move to a place where the cost of living is different, and a lowe
    • Re:Man Up (Score:5, Funny)

      by Tyler Durden ( 136036 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:29PM (#23243608)

      I spent the majority of my childhood until I was 18 picking rock and bailing hay on a farm. You think you're in a tedious, repetitive and boring job? The fact that you're posting on Slashdot during work hours tells me otherwise. I'll bet you have air conditioning.

      Peter Gibbons: This isn't so bad, huh? Makin' bucks, gettin' exercise, workin' outside.
      Lawrence: Fuckin' A.
      Peter Gibbons: [nods] Fuckin' A.
      - Office Space

    • I spent the majority of my childhood until I was 18 picking rock and bailing hay on a farm.
      What kinda rocks y'growing there, anyway?

      Are they good eating?

    • Re:Man Up (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:55PM (#23244026)
      I spent the majority of my childhood until I was 18 picking rock and bailing hay on a farm. You think you're in a tedious, repetitive and boring job? The fact that you're posting on Slashdot during work hours tells me otherwise. I'll bet you have air conditioning.

      I think he may have misinterpreted what he really means by boredom as burnout.

      What do Soldiers, Firemen, Paramedics, and IT person have in common?

      Jobs that have times of lulls and then complete disasters that were never the same as before. This is why they attribute post traumatic stress symptoms to soldiers due because its a constant emotional rollercoasters of pure boredom and then unexpected disasters.

      Now, IT is no where as bad as being a front line soldier (no ones buddy was ambushed by a sniper in the server room) but overall the same issues that are bad for the mind for the soldier are the same for the IT person.

      An IT person sits around until the phone rings, Blackberry goes off, or gets an email and then they have an unexpected issue on their hands they they could have never predicted. It might be as simple as having to show someone how to install a printer to a complete disaster where the exchange server goes down and the CEO needs an important email for a big contract.

      A single issue in itself isn't that bad, but the issues keep happening and they are often not the same or at a predictable interval.

      I remember a psychological test done on lab rats with such a scenario where they shocked one rat with electricity at regular intervals and then shocked the other at random. Even though the one at regular intervals was shocked more often, the rat that was shocked at random ate less and slept less and could not adapt to the situation.

      Same thing with IT and burnout... From an anectdotal experience, I work IT but I have also worked in places like warehouses lifting boxes and sorting orders for a mail order company.

      The warehouse was hot and the boxes were heavy and the task with hurt your fingers but for the life of me I miss the job because my job was straight forward and the task was predictable. Sadly, I had to give it up for money and moved back into IT and just deal with the stress as best I can.

      So while farming and assembly line work is mundane and boring as heck, the stress levels aren't that bad because the tasks are predictable and your aren't running to one issue or another like a fireman trying to put out fires or a soldier who keeps getting ambushed.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bostongraf ( 1216362 )
      If everyone in the world decided to just sit back and "be thankful", the world would not get anywhere.

      It basically sounds like you are just jealous of the guy having a good job and good family, and want to sound off on that as opposed to actually giving him some advise on where he might take his life next.

      That being said, I would caution the original poster to not take another hobby and ruin it for himself by turning it into a career. Most IT people got into the industry because we enjoy this stuff.
      • and realize that some things are of far greater value.

        While job satisfaction is something we should always strive for we seem to have a generation who doesn't see a reason to sacrifice, for however long, to meet truer and more important goals.

        Sorry, family comes first. You provide for them then you provide for yourself.

        So basically I saw "suck it up" "quit whining" etc... and I think its valid, sorry but IT is easy street. If you don't enjoy your job then look elsewhere but make sure the important stuff i
  • well.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thermian ( 1267986 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:10PM (#23243236)
    I have a wife and kid, and had a long term career that I was fundamentally bored with. I quit, went to back uni, and ten years later don't regret a thing.

    I say take the chance, or risk looking back in ten years and wondering where your life went, seriously.
    • I don't know if you are in the US or elsewhere, but going back to school is an expensive proposition in the US.

      My wife is currently going through a graduate program in Psychology (after six years at home with the kids, and a totally unrelated field before then.) It's well worth it - she's going to be a terrific therapist, and she loves it. We're able to manage it by taking out loans for her (>$100K for her), living off of my income (which we've been doing for six years now), and because we are lucky e

    • Re:well.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by terjeber ( 856226 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @06:10PM (#23245100)

      I say take the chance, or risk looking back in ten years and wondering where your life went, seriously.

      Amen to that. Unless something terrible befalls you (unlikely) people rarely regret the choices they made and the chances they took. The regrets you have are the chances you never took. The opportunities you had but never caught.

      Go to your next reunion and talk to the people who are there. It is usually astonishingly depressing. A huge part of them still remember school as the best time of their life and they always will.

      The best time of my life is in the future, and it always will be. Take chances, try new things, and that will always be the case. Don't listen to those who tell you to "be responsible" and "content with what you have". There is only one reason they are giving you this advice. They hate to see you on a new adventure. It reminds them of all the opportunities they passed up in their miserable lives. When you get successful some time in the future, and if you try hard enough you might be, they will tell you about all that they "could have done, only it was... [wife, kids, job, weather, house payments, sick mother - take your pick] that prevented them from becoming successful.

      Oh, and BTW, if you succeed, these people will resent you for it.

  • by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:10PM (#23243240) Journal
    Can you make money at it? Do some informational interviews with people in the field. Cold call around and tell them what you are doing, see if they will talk to you. Most people love to talk about their job. Then you can make an informed decision. Go over your finances, estimate how long it will take for you to get established in your new field, and save up more than that.

    Then go for it. Plenty of people change careers and are happier for it.
  • Your wife (Score:2, Insightful)

    by anthro398 ( 729495 )
    told me to tell you to hang in there. She probably didn't marry a landscape engineer (yard mower) intentionally. Perhaps you should start exploring other things you can do to give your life purpose: volunteer to help stupid kids, keep poor people from eating each other, or help a sleazy, lying politician get elected. I expect the 'mid-life crisis' is a recent phenomenon that started picking up about the same time Americans started having more leisure time to stare at their navels and contemplate their ex
  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:11PM (#23243260) Journal
    I got the perfect thing for you; Cat Juggler: []
  • by elucido ( 870205 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:11PM (#23243272)

    Everything should be a means to an end with the goal being to protect and support your family.

    If your job pays good money, be a man and provider and sacrifice your happiness so your child can have a better life. Having 8 hours of boring yet high paying work is better than having 8 hours of fun yet low paying work, because the boring life is better for your wife and kids welfare.

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *

      Having 8 hours of boring yet high paying work is better than having 8 hours of fun yet low paying work

      Not if you're single with no kids!

      • You're right, if you are single with no kids then you can do what you love. If want a girlfriend or wife, then you have to do some things you don't like doing, and if you have a wife and kids you might have to do some things you hate.

    • Sure, work hard at a boring job so that your child has all the right opportunities to grow up and do the same for his child.

      From my point of view, it's better to take a fun but low-paying job, because you'd inspire your kid to follow his own dreams instead of taking the easy way out. (There's also the side benefit of perhaps not being so materially-focused.) Plus, even with your responsibility for others, it is still your life -- as long as you can still keep your family in food and shelter, why not enjoy it?

      Also, don'tcha want to be the "cool dad" everyone else's kids want to have? :P
    • Err... sacrificing your happiness generally leads to sacrificing your family's happiness. The resentment that comes from that can be mind-crushing.

      The real question is: how many of your needs (and your family's) are wants, and how many are actual needs? People have raised well-adjusted kids on what would now be considered abject poverty. It can be done again.
    • by evanbd ( 210358 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:36PM (#23243718)

      Tell me then... what exactly did his parents sacrifice for? Is his child expected to also sacrifice his happiness, so that his grandchildren can be happy? What of them?

      I say, find balance and moderation in all things. Don't give up on happiness, but don't pursue only that. Lots of people manage to make career changes and support a family, and many of them are happier for it.

      /. is being an awfully depressed and pessimistic bunch today.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I whole-heartedly disagree. Unhappiness is unhappiness, and it's powerful.

      I'm the son of a single mother who worked bat-shit hard as a doctor. It meant we got to live in an upper-middle class neighbourhood, and I received all the opportunities I could ever need. Unfortunately it meant I effectively had NO parent, and was pressured to act as a parent to my younger brother and sister. When my teenage years came around my mother was too stressed to deal with my emotional neglect and ended up kicking me out
    • by metlin ( 258108 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @05:26PM (#23244520) Journal

      If your job pays good money, be a man and provider and sacrifice your happiness so your child can have a better life.
      What a load of horse dung. There is nothing "manly" about being unhappy and dissatisfied.

      Here's a better alternative - be smart, and research into what you like and make a plan to go towards it. That way, you are working towards a goal. And when you finally do accomplish it, you'd be happier for it.

      The whole "be a man" and do stupid things for life is the biggest load of nonsense I've heard.

      My Dad quit his job as a banker and became a lawyer when I was in school, and now he's very successful and quite happy. My Mom quit her job when she had me, and went back to being a daytrader.

      My girlfriend is in premed and we're thinking of getting married and having kids -- but that does not mean that I do not plan on going to business school sometime, or that she's not planning on doing medicine.

      You can have both. You just need to be smart about it.
  • by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) * <> on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:13PM (#23243286) Journal
    IT sucks. It's a hard, high-stress field that demands constant study and practice.

    This is why it pays well.

    Don't expect to be able to hop out of the field and be able to command the same salary unless you have some well-established, lucrative backup profession.

    If you really can't take it anymore, expect to downsize your life somewhat. Lack of stress may make up for lack of cash.
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )
      No, it pays well do to demand. This is why it doesn't pay as well as it used to. The amount of available workers increased.

  • by seifried ( 12921 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:13PM (#23243290) Homepage
    No surprise, the IT industry is maturing (slowly, but steadily). Things should be getting a little more boring for your standard administrator, we have begin to learn and apply the lessons learned over the last 40 years (a.k.a. "best practices", a terrible buzz phrase but an accurate one). So now you have a choice: you can leave IT and find another fiend that is less mature and still growing rapidly, or you can find an environment that still encourages and rewards innovation and new ideas, in other words the difference between slowly tweaking the system so it is more efficient and creating entirely new systems (that may or may not be more efficient, only one way to find out =). My advice is change your job before you change your career.
    • by seifried ( 12921 )
      begin -> begun. fiend -> field. No more posting comments before first coffee.
      • I thought fiend was intentional. Describing IT in its earlier phases this way could be accurate. I know that I would have my eyes wide open to the expected challenges if I were trying to begin again in an industry in its early phases.
  • All work can get boring, I think you need to find a way to spice it up.
    • As that can be taken in WAY too many wrong ways, I'll provide some suggestions:
      Find a hobby
      Do some contract work
      Find a long-term project at work that you can work on alongside your regular tasks
      Find a hobby you can share with your family

      Since you're an IT worker, I'd suggest the best thing to do would be to start putting more emphasis on your non-working hours. Talk to your boss about cutting back on your hours if you need to, and supplement your work with contract work. Variety is the spice of life; make
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:13PM (#23243306)
    Set up a large network of thousands of machines, install on them all, some genetic programming software, then have them generate billions of random applications. Then simply release the resulting ecosystem into the Internet. See what happens then.

  • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <> on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:14PM (#23243318) Homepage Journal
    Well, let's face it. You didn't get to be an astronaut who went on to be President and beat off an invading alien dinosaur army while curing cancer and feeding a billion starving people, while mistresses of all potential clamoured for your body.

    Oh well.

    Take some of that dough, get yourself a nice tv and a good bottle of whiskey, enjoy your family at home. You hunter now, must bring home bacon for family. and, if the job you picked sucks, well, at least you got the big tv and a bottle of booze.

    welcome to america buddy....
  • by eln ( 21727 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:14PM (#23243320)
    Get a Porsche and a mistress.

    Seriously though, everyone goes through this sort of thing. Since you have responsibilities, you basically just have to decide if the money you make in this field is worth the crap you have to deal with. Keep in mind that a lot of the frustration you're feeling is probably directly related to the fact that you're encumbered with responsibilities, and you aren't free to move around like you were when you were single and childless, so you would likely feel trapped in your job no matter what you were doing at this stage in your life.

    If you decide it isn't, you have to come up with a plan that will allow you to pursue something else without making your family live in a box. You may decide to go to school part time at night and work during the day. This means you see less of the family in the short term and it means you have to keep dealing with the crap for a few more years, but it's sacrificing now for a better tomorrow. I've done it, and it kind of sucks, but if you're the sole or major breadwinner in the family, it's probably either that or just deal with the IT crap until the kids graduate from college.

  • by Ynsats ( 922697 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:15PM (#23243330)
    I built a race car.

    Seriously. I got together with a friend of mine who is a mechanic and put together a race car to go drag racing. We've won events with national sponsorship, got on TV and even have magazines asking for photoshoots.

    I was able to learn alot and I even applied my IT skills in tuning fuel injection and ignition control systems. Now there are people begging me to tune their cars for them and I might actually have a side business that is quite lucrative for not alot of effort given my extensive computer based background. If I play those cards right, I could end up being a legitimate chassis builder and tuner. Kinda cool when you think about how something that was just intended to get my mind off my problems turned into something like that.
  • Baskin Robbins (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ohzero ( 525786 ) <onemillioninchange@yahoo . c om> on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:16PM (#23243368) Homepage Journal
    You have what I like to call Baskin Robbins Syndrome. It's where you really really dig ice cream - UNTIL you get a job where you can eat a bunch of free ice cream. You now loathe ice cream.

    Unfortunately this cycle is perpetual. Baskin Robbins Syndrome applies to any profession. So even if you're immensely interested in what you do for a living, you will eventually grow to hate it. Don't you think Taco and crew have had mornings where they wake up and go "wow, fuck slashdot, im going to go be a hamster farmer..."

    I went through this a few years ago with IT security. I even tried going into gaming. Eventually I solved the problem by taking a year off of anything work related to travel and clear my brain. This isn't an option for a lot of people, but if you can do it, it will change your perspective in a huge way.

  • We sacrifice all the time to get what we want or need out of life.

    We go to college, sacrificing our youth so that when the time comes we can afford/support to maintain a wife and child (family).

    What is the cost of maintaining a family? Often we have to settle for a boring yet high paying career path because thats what will get us the woman of our dreams.

    Despite what people say, women want men who have good high paying jobs rather than men who are happy but total bums. And children NEED a parent who makes en
    • We sacrifice all the time to get what we want or need out of life.

      We go to college, sacrificing our youth so that when the time comes we can afford/support to maintain a wife and child (family).

      So where's the reward for all this sacrifice? You sacrifice your youth for education. You sacrifice your middle age for remuneration. At retirement, if you did well, you're too old to enjoy it, and if you didn't you're trying to decide which generic dry pet food tastes best. And the cycle repeats in the next gene

  • by ebunga ( 95613 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:16PM (#23243382) Homepage
    Several of my friends did construction for a while. A year later they were back in IT. They say the change was great.
  • Just ease out of it. You don't have to ditch the job straight away to move on to other professions. For myself, I've got a great IT job, I could see myself here for quite a long time. Is it my childhood dream of traveling the world showing my awesome movies to the masses? No, but that's why I work on the dream nights & weekends in an office I built out of the upstairs game-room. This way, slowly but surely, I can ease myself into a position where I can make a choice that won't wreck my life, financially
  • I've been staring at the realization that after fourteen years of doing this, computers have gotten faster, storage has grown exponentially, and yet we're still fighting the same damn fights, technology has not made our lives easier, software is not growing in relation to the hardware advancements we've made. It's like having a jet fighter with buggy reins for steering and ball muskets for cannons.

    So I'm going back to school. I'm getting an EE degree, going to pick up an education degree and maybe a busin
  • Adminspotting (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:19PM (#23243440)
    (Ten years ago, I saw this gem in the Scary Devil Monastery, and printed it out. It still rings true.)

    Choose no life. Choose sysadminning. Choose no career. Choose no family. Choose a fucking big computer, choose hard disks the size of washing machines, old cars, CD ROM writers and electrical coffee makers. Choose no sleep, high caffeine and mental insurance. Choose fixed interest car loans. Choose a rented shoebox. Choose no friends. Choose black jeans and matching combat boots. Choose a swivel chair for your office in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose NNTP and wondering why the fuck you're logged on on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting in that chair looking at mind-numbing, spirit-crushing web sites, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last on some miserable newsgroup, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up lusers Gates spawned to replace the computer-literate.

    Choose your future.

    Choose to sysadmin[1].

    [1] It might fuck you up a little less than heroin[2].
    [2] ObFootnote.

  • They're high risk and not very satisfying. Once you go into a management job, your tech skills will start to atrophy. If you ever want to go back into a productive job, you'll find that things have moved on. You'll also find you're being judged on the basis of how others produce results, which may not be under your control. Also, management jobs are intangible - no-one can really say what value you add. As a consequence they're very easy to cut, without affecting the overall performance of the organisation.
  • The only problem is that I have a wife and kid to support and my current job pays very well. Have any of you been through this kind of career 'mid-life crisis?'

    Yes. I'm an engineer by training and by vocation for the last decade. However I realized a few years ago the career prospects for me in my engineering field are somewhat limited, not to mention boring, compared to what I ultimately want to do. So I've been diversifying, learning about finance and several other fields necessary for my goals and slowly changing my career path.

    What did you do to get out of the rut?

    I went to graduate school personally but that's not the only way to do it. It was just the most condensed way to get the educatio

  • Tough one (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FuzzyDaddy ( 584528 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:24PM (#23243506) Journal
    As someone who is also the sole support of a wife and kids, I sympathize with your position.

    What I'd suggest is to keep your current job for the time being, and spend some time looking around for what you do enjoy doing. This may or may not be work related. Start and abandon some hobbies, take up martial arts, take some college classes either inside your field or far away from it. But your goal is just to find something you find meaningful.

    Supporting a family and loving your work is a tough balance - it would be much easier if your focus was one way or the other, and you will make little compromises on either side. If you make too big a compromise either way, for too long, you will end up regretting it.

    So my balanced suggestion is - look around for something that excites you. Give yourself some time to find it. Meantime, don't quit the day job.

  • by Enleth ( 947766 ) <> on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:24PM (#23243508) Homepage
    From what you said, I guess you have quite a lot of first-hand experience and knowledge in a broad set of technical subjects. That means you probably have good reasoning and logical thinking abilities, which in turn makes you quite a good candidate for a more research-oriented job, instead of maintenance, which indeed can get boring after some time.
    In fact, people with you experience are very valuable in research teams, as those who use the current technologies routinely have the best knowledge of their shortcomings and pitfalls and can give the most valuable input into improving them - sometimes many times more valuable than people who created them.
    Additionally, research gives much more satisfaction - instead of just creating something useful, you create something better and more powerful as well, probably easing the work of all those you worked with before, who still do their daily administration routine.
    And be assured, there's no shortage of jobs in the network technology research field - fiber optics, high-speed wireless, large-scale routing, extreme load-resistant and distributed systems, and many more.
  • I ran into the same situation a few years back. I was burned out on what I thought was IT but it ended up that I was burned out with corporate life. I basically dropped out for a couple months, took my savings and started ramping up for a consulting business. My initial intention was to do it long enough to support getting another degree, I'm still doing it now. Consulting is a good route but its hard work. Supporting lots of smaller clients rather than one big one gives you flexabilty in hours and eno
  • by microTodd ( 240390 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:27PM (#23243564) Homepage Journal
    I am in a similar situation as you...15 years in the industry and burnt out. I try and try to put myself in the mindset of "just work your 8 hours and collect your paycheck" but I can't. I WANT to have passion and excitement for my work, but just can't seem to find that anymore.

    So what can we do about it? :-)

    A lot of this depends on your life circumstances. Since you're married with kids the career change can be a scary challenge. However, perhaps you and your wife have an excellent financial position (i.e. low debt) and can afford to scale down your quality-of-life a teeny bit and you can take a pay cut. Or, if you're totally insane you can start your own company. Start a Subway franchise or something.

    So here's some of the options as I saw them:

    -Complete career change: The problem here is that this is kind of the same solution as "rewrite all the code from scratch". Read this [] to realize why this is a bad idea. You are throwing away *TONS* of sunk costs in experience and education.

    -Go back to school (maybe at night) and learn another trade, then transition to that. Safe, but slow. Initially expensive.

    -Get a hobby, part-time night job, or something that peaks your interest. I started teaching adult algebra classes at night and I love it! Yes, IT during the day still sucks but teaching at night makes it way more bearable.

    -One-off career change...can be difficult but doable. Maybe hire a professional career counselor or resume writer.

    The closest I've come to solving this dilemma is getting hobbies and part-time night jobs that scratch my itch. Also, I try to force some of the fun back into my day job. For example, once a week I'll take a few hours and just play with a new language or tool just for fun (although my boss would probably get mad if he found out I was on-the-clock).

    Unfortunately, its hard to find a practical solution to career burnout. I believe in a lot of ways this is a spritual problem. i.e. "true happiness is wanting what you have not having what you want", etc. See if you can find satisfaction in your family, in making a salary to feed and care for them, and in focusing on fun stuff outside of work (camping, sports, gaming, arts&crafts, reading, whatever...). Difficult, I know. But be happy that your job is Mon-Fri 9-5 and you're not roofing houses or something REALLY sucky.

    Hope this helps. Good luck.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The only thing dumber than Joel Spolsky are the followers who quote him like he's some kind of prophet. If we listened to Joel, no one would ever start anything new, because the only thing worth doing is maintaining old crap, no matter how broken it is.
  • I've got it pretty good. With only a two-year degree (in computer-aided drafting!), I'm making significantly more than the first Google link for "computer programmer salary" says I should. I've been working for the same company for 12+ years, with management that knows how to handle the business side of things, a team of subject matter experts that handle the customer side, and all we have to do is code. Topping it all off, it's a vertical-market tax software product, so it's not going anywhere until dea
  • Chase your passion (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Unoti ( 731964 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:28PM (#23243582) Journal

    1. Chase your passions. Work in a field that you can be passionate about. The best way for you to be happy and successful is to chase your passion. Crazy examples: maybe you want to create new content in Second Life. Maybe you'd be happier teaching troubled teens how to use woodworking tools. Maybe your dream is to be a park ranger. Figure it out.

    2. Don't worry about money. Restructure your life so that you can chase your passion. Figure out a way to live with half of your current salary if you have to. Live somewhere that you don't need a car. Hike with your groceries. Use public transportation. Work from home.

    3. If you don't know what you're passionate about, hurry up and find out now, before you're dead. You only have one life. Don't waste it as a slave, doing what you don't want to be doing.

    Consider this very seriously. Nobody is forcing you to do what you've been doing. Don't be a sheep, take control of your life, because if you don't there's plenty of other people who will.

  • I am facing exactly the same problem currently.

    I'm not ready (and neither are my families finances) for what I have always pegged as my retirement career. I am hoping the log jam breaks soon.

    At least for me what has lead me here is the one hot project, with it's new tech and all that stuff that had me all excited, got dumped. Its really taken the wind out of my sails. There are other issues as well, but that is really the snowball that started the avalanche.
    • by Unoti ( 731964 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:39PM (#23243760) Journal

      Get your finances under control. Reduce your need for money. The difference between how much you make and how much you must spend reflects the size of choices available in your life. Reduce your dependence on needing a lot of money each month, and the number of choices available to you increases dramatically, and your freedom increases dramatically.

      In my case, I used to own two cars, now I own none. I moved to another state that is 1/2 the price for housing. I quit eating out, started buying things like pinto beans and rice, and cook all my own meals. After restructuring my life, I have far more money and options available to me.

      Once your finances are in order, and you learn to do without things like starbucks every day and whatnot, you may find you have the freedom you need to pursue your dreams. It may take years to get to that point, but you must try to take control. Otherwise you forfeit control of your life to the will of others.

  • What I have chosen to do is get a government job.

    I still work on boring technology, but only 40 hours a week, and I don't take it home with me.

    So I pretty much focus on other things when I am not at work.

    They other great advantage is that if a completely different opportunity opens up, I might be able to laterally move into something more interesting,and and still maintain my benefits.

  • Woah -- you sound like me.

    I feel pretty burned out at times as well (14 years in IT doing most of what you named except for sales and AIX). It pays well, but sometimes it just doesn't excite, right?

    There is NO RIGHT ANSWER here.

    How important is the money to you and your family? If you are in debt and living paycheck to paycheck then you need to handle that first.

    Is work that important to you? Many people I know use work to pay the bills while they pursue their passions outside of work. Do you have passi
  • I did programming and consulting and ended up growing very tired it. While this was only 6 years after college, my main interest through life had been computers, and I had been making money (full time in the summers) doing programming/IT since I was halfway through high school.

    Luckily, there was no one depending on me once I reached that point of dissatisfaction, so I packed up and went to grad school to study biology. Turns out though, I'm doing more programming now when I left my old job. And I love it
  • Same thing... You take a look at what the customer has, what they want. What boundaries to honor, which to ignore. Follow their special (at whim) rules, like "We want this site to have only two colors. white and #4A7D96" or "we want the mower tracks to only go NW to SE". Pull the cord, start working, Halfway through, they say, "Sorry, we decided NE to SW" and leave it 1" long (already having cut it to 3/4" most of the way) Do what you can to finish it. Come back in 2 weeks, repeat.

    If you don't like the p
  • by MichaelCrawford ( 610140 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:35PM (#23243690) Homepage Journal
    I'm now in my twenty-first year as a software engineer. It's not as bad as it was for a while, but for a long time I was so sick of it that I couldn't focus on my work, and was barely able to do enough consulting to provide for myself and my wife.

    Several years ago I decided to change careers into music []. I taught myself to play piano many years ago, and since making that decision I've been studying it intensively with the aim of enrolling in music school someday, where I will major in music composition. I want to write symphonies!

    Of course I realize that musicians rarely earn as much as computer programmers. It's going to be a while before I can pass the entrance audition; during that time I'm continuing to work as a coder, while paying down my many debts as fast as I can. I'm pretty sure I can be debt-free by the time I start school.

    I'm also developing a GPL audio application called Ogg Frog [], whose website also has articles and HOWTOs on the general topic of digital music. The software isn't released yet, but I'm pretty sure that by the time I do go back to school the software will have been available long enough the website will earn enough money through advertising to provide for myself and my wife.

    Musicians need to be well-known to be successful. One way I've been promoting my music is by giving away free CDs [] of an album I recorded in 1994. If you'd like to receive one, email your name and postal address to [mailto]

    I'm absolutely serious! I've given away almost two thousand of them in person; a few weeks ago I plugged my CDs here at Slashdot and got fifty requests in just one day. I expect to finally mail them on Friday. And yes I am happy to ship internationally.

    The music is instrumental piano, and is all my own original compositions.

  • I used to work for a paycheck. I still do my job to support my family and lifestyle.

    But I *work* for a non-profit that I love and enjoy (check the homepage). It's got all of the same pitfalls that my jobs have had (petty power struggles, empire builders, personality conflicts, budget BS, the works), but the overall mission and work environment are awesome. I watch mistakes get made at my job, and I get to *not* make those mistakes. I learn about something new that could move us forward as an organization? I've got a near consequence free environment to try it out.

    And one of the best parts of it a volunteer I can just walk away. When going out to the hangar and hanging around WW2 bombers just isn't fun, or I don't want to deal with some of the people....I don't. I exercise the luxuries that I just don't have at my job.

    I've heard that several of the Apollo astronauts have problems with depression after their missions were over. They had become men with no mountain left to climb. They had focused their lives on a goal and, once they'd achieved it, they were left with a giant, empty "what next?"

    Rather than going all 'Fight Club' and destroying what you've made of yourself in favor of becoming a self-actualized burger inversion specialist, why not try and create something greater. Use your skills somewhere that make you happy, even if you've got to log 40 hours of boredom to support those 10 hours of doing something interesting.
  • Okay, well (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Knara ( 9377 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @06:03PM (#23245010)

    I'm creeping up on my 10th year where I could be said to be doing computer support professionally. I went through about 5 years where I was like, "wow, this sucks and isn't very challenging".

    I figured out though that there's real benefit in having a job where I can go home and the end of the day and forget about work and do stuff I like. Not to mention that even though the things I do from day to day aren't amazingly challenging, it isn't that way for everyone I work with, and as such, it's much easier to stand out and be regarded as excellent in my professional field.

    So yeah, look around and consider all the options, but my advice? Don't make your work your life... unless you're getting paid millions of dollars quarterly, then make it your life for 10 years and retire. :D

  • ...and say that putting your family through some short-term sacrifice/danger/inconvenience may not be a bad thing is the longer-term payoff is worth it. Let's say you take a temporary income hit in order to switch careers. The payoff is that you're happier, don't snap at the kids and wife as much, have higher earning potential, feel more satisfaction with your life. Sounds worth it to me. My reaction to all of these 'dig ditches and put up with it for the sake of your family' posters is that they're being overly fatalistic.
  • by chooks ( 71012 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @10:05PM (#23247306)

    Well if you have gotten past the slurry of goatse references, random trolls, and at least one or two (hundred) Vista jabs, I laud your patience and thank you for reading my $0.02. I was in IT for about 10 years, worked hard, made great money, and never lacked for a job.

    But I had to leave.

    It wasn't just the continued feel of deja vu. I mean, if you switch jobs or do consulting/contracting, you get used to arguing for the benefits of process, unit testing, design, etc... But everything just was getting so boring. The options of tech people -- staying in the trenches and fighting the same battles year after year or going into management (yawn) weren't really appealing to me. And really at the heart of it was a nagging feeling of there being something that would be better for me to do (more complimentary to my strengths, more intellectually interesting, more personally satisfying).

    I think you need to look at what you feel is missing with your job. Many people have suggested looking for a different job in the same field. That is good advice. If you do not think you can get what you need in the field, then consider a job switch. If you think you need a job switch, make sure you and your wife are in agreement on the course of action (well - since I do not have a wife, I would assume this is the best course of action :)

    Even though you have a wife and kids, many things are possible. I switched from IT to medical school, and am almost 1/2 way done with my M.D. I have many classmates who are in the 40s (and some in their 50s) with wife and kids and manage to make things meet. I do not regret the switch one bit, and while the loss of income is difficult, it is only temporary.

    Many will argue that you need to stay where you are for your kids. Perhaps that is true, although giving your kids an example of having strength/tenacity/etc... to make a positive change in your life might be good as well. You have been given a gift of having options in your life. That is not something that many people in this world have (even in the US). As an engineer you know that there are many ways to fix a problem - the trick is to find the right method for the given situation.

    Not sure if this has helped out at all, but you know what they say about free advice...

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @12:54AM (#23248484) Homepage

    Around 1880 or so, an exciting, growing field was "stationary engineering". Factories and cities were getting steam and electric power, and people were needed to make it all work. This was a good field for a bright young person interested in technology. "Stationary engineers" installed the equipment and kept it going.

    Stationary engineering is still an active field. There are about 120,000 members of the Stationary Department of the International Union of Operating Engineers, [] keeping the wheels going around, the boilers hot, and the pressure within limits. The symbol of the IUOE is a steam pressure gauge. These are important jobs. Without them, industrial civilization would literally grind to a halt.

    It's been a long time since stationary engineering was an exciting growth industry. Today, it's a dull maintenance job. That's where most of information technology is going.

    Except that IT isn't unionized.

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