You Can Succeed at Your Career, But Don’t Forget to Succeed as a Person

Today’s blog post is going to be a little different.

Recently, I have been involved in several situations, all involving me advising and advocating for people who are struggling with different work/life balance challenges. These are people who have personal situations going on and are trying to find ways to continue to work even in their difficult times, or who have workloads so high that it is interfering with their personal time (and sanity).

In all of these cases, I have tried to remind people about priorities. I would never try to tell someone else how to live their life, or how to manage their career, but I urge people to try to see the big picture. My advice is that while work is important, don’t let it be more important than it really is.

Let me give you a concrete example. Earlier in my career, I had a very influential mentor, someone whom I respected and admired very much. I have not spoken with them in several years, and I always meant to seek them out and try and catch up. Well, earlier this week I decided to look them up and reach out, and I discovered that they passed away just last month unexpectedly from an illness. I never prioritized that personal relationship, and I have now lost that opportunity forever.

Look, our careers are important. It is quite literally how we put food on our tables and keep roofs over our heads, and possibly for other people as well. But be mindful of where your time and energy is spent. Is it worth sacrificing a personal relationship, or your mental health, just so your organization can improve some KPI for this quarter? Even a slipped ship date or an underperforming sprint can be recovered from, but your health and your relationships may not be so easy. It is ok to say no if you need to, and I would stand behind anyone if they have a legitimate reason. You may want to be successful at your career and be a great engineer, developer, or manager, but just never forget that before all of that, you are a person.

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