Should An IT Leader Follow His/Her Dream Career?

by drjim on June 11, 2009

IT Leaders Need To Determine If Another Career Would Make Them Happier

IT Leaders Need To Determine If Another Career Would Make Them Happier

I bumped into one of my longtime friends last week, Mark, and he told me how unhappy he was at his IT job. He was feeling a great deal of guilt over this because his firm had just had yet another round of layoffs and he had been spared. He still had his job, but he hated it. What’s an IT Leader to do in this situation?

The Grass Always Seems To Be Greener…

What caught my attention about Mark’s situation (hating your IT job is not really that novel) was that he knew exactly what he’d prefer to be doing. Mark plays jazz guitar on the side and he’s actually quite good at it. He’d love to do it full time, but he’s afraid to take the leap.

In the current hard economic times, many IT professionals are having the whole “afraid to leap” thing solved for them by getting laid off. If you happen to lose your job, it may cause a deep seated burst of career change desire to well up in you.

Been There, Done That, Now What?

If you find yourself in a situation where you start to long to take up that “other” career that you have always longed to pursue, there is some hard thinking that you are going to have to do. We’ve all heard stories of IT professionals who have walked away from it all to setup restaurants, bakeries, dry cleaning stores, etc. only to seem them fail in a spectacular fashion.

The big question is what separates the crazy second career ideas that we all have from the ones that just might work? Business coach Pamela Slim believes that it’s not the idea, not the career that you are interested in, or even the market that you want to enter. Rather she believes that your success or failure in a second career really depends on you.

Second Career Success Secrets

Slim believes that you can separate your deeply held career urges from those that you pick up from watching an episode of “Dirty Jobs” one night by one simple fact: real second career desires don’t go away over time, they just get stronger. In fact, we can’t ignore them – they are always there.

Hey IT leader should you make the jump? Here’s the question that you have to ask yourself: no matter what job you have, your future will be filled with uncertainty, doubts, and you are  going to find yourself working very hard to keep your head above water. When you reach the end of the race, how much is it going to matter to you if you gave the second career a go or if you let it just remain a passing thought? Answer this question and you’ll know what your next steps need to be as you work to transform yourself from an IT manager into a true leader.

Oh, by the way, my friend Mark is still slaving away at his IT job. He continues to dream about a music career, but he loves his regular paycheck more.

Questions For You

If money wasn’t an issue, what job would you be doing today? What makes that job more attractive to you than your current job? Have you ever taken steps to experience what it would be like to work at that other job full-time? What would it take financially for you to switch over to that job? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Would you be showing up in shorts and flip-flops? How about jeans and a T-shirt? Well why don’t you? The answer to this question is something that we normally don’t spend a lot of time thinking about, but because it can have a big impact on our careers, perhaps we should…

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ed September 7, 2009 at 12:08 pm

IF MONEY WERN’T AN ISSUE? I’d be working for a former employer (myself) with some kind of I-net based business (trying now to get a grapics related opportunity going), I’d be doing some traveling, mainly in the summers taking my children (two older, two younger) and grandchildren to places they’ve never been before and may never get to see otherwise. I’d be doing some writing (used to make up stories to help my children get to sleep when they were very young, regret now that I never wrote those down) fiction/non-fiction. I’d be studying/learning new things I’ve got an interest in, i.e. automotive technology, electronics, drawing, languages, science, etc. I’d like to find or develop an I-net business model that my children/grand children can someday use for themselves, to allow them to pursue their own interests and learn as much as they can. When I graduated high school my father gave me a watch as a gift along with a note that read ‘time is of the essence’; for the greater part of my life I never understood what that meant. He died 3 days after my graduation from a heart attack.

WHAT MAKES THAT JOB MORE ATTRACTIVE…..? Primarily the time freedom it would give me to pursue my other interests and spend time with my children and grand children.

HAVE I EVER TAKEN STEPS…..? Yes, I got a taste of what that would be like when I did some consulting work for a brief time (the taste), never forgot it.

WHAT WOULD IT TAKE FINANCIALLY…..? Enough funds to cover my monthly expenses for my younger children (now teenagers) and myself.

Thanks for the opportunity to just comment; btw, I too am an IT person, started as a computer operator in the military way, way back in 1973; went from that to writing my first computer program 3 years later, to developing my first commerical system 5 years after, to developing a small IT Department from basically nothing 6 years after that…most of the past 36 years has been in the public sector of IT. Today I help provide IT support for a small Federal hospital facility in Western SD. Butting heads with a new Supervisor has brought back the memory of the ‘taste’ I once had.

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Dr. Jim Anderson September 12, 2009 at 9:57 pm

Ed: wow – it sure seems like you’ve lived several IT lives! With all of the money that is getting ready to flow into healthcare over the next year or so, get ready for another set of opportunities. Who knows, this might be your big break – maybe time to start your own business…?

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