Figuring out what you want to do professionally



  • I created this thread because of something that @WrCombs said in the What Are You Doing Right Now thread (https://mangolassi.it/post/481231).

    There are quite a few unhealthy perspectives that I have seen that stop IT Pros in their tracks when it comes to developing themselves professionally. Here are a few of them that I have seen:

    • IT jobs are hard to find and land

    • I am not as good as <person> at <task>

    • I should just be loyal/grateful for what I already have because this small business has been good to me

    • I can't decide what I want to do

    Several of these have been covered at length in other threads, so I am only going to cover the last one (I am sure others will be willing to chime in on those again).

    You've all heard the aphorism, Do something you love, and you'll never work another day in your life. There is some truth in this, but, as with all expressions like this, what it doesn't address is far larger than what it does.

    Personally, I have found a good way for me to think about work/tasks and whether I want to keep doing them or not. What I do right now is consider, at the end of investing time in a given task, whether or not I have more, the same, or less energy following that time investment. It has been hard for me to figure out whether or not I "liked" a task because every one of them are so mixed, particularly as an IT Generalist. Putting it into the context of energy levels has made it more objective for me. It has also allowed me to abstract a specific task into categories rather than focusing on technologies or maybes.

    Another layer of this is to follow up the energy question with a why. For example, if I just spent an hour configuring a switch and I feel drained (more than is appropriate), I would ask myself why do I feel more drained. Was it configuring the switch and fighting with the config? Was it because I don't really feel confident in what I'm doing, but I liked it in general? Was it because I kept getting interrupted by users?

    If you can filter through these questions it can allow you to start to see a path forward in your career. You don't have to do <task> to know whether or not you will like that specific thing (insert caveats). You can have an idea by extrapolating from the categories of things that have changed your energy.



  • @Kelly said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    I created this thread because of something that @WrCombs said in the What Are You Doing Right Now thread (https://mangolassi.it/post/481231).

    There are quite a few unhealthy perspectives that I have seen that stop IT Pros in their tracks when it comes to developing themselves professionally. Here are a few of them that I have seen:

    • IT jobs are hard to find and land

    • I am not as good as <person> at <task>

    • I should just be loyal/grateful for what I already have because this small business has been good to me

    • I can't decide what I want to do

    Several of these have been covered at length in other threads, so I am only going to cover the last one (I am sure others will be willing to chime in on those again).

    You've all heard the aphorism, Do something you love, and you'll never work another day in your life. There is some truth in this, but, as with all expressions like this, what it doesn't address is far larger than what it does.

    Personally, I have found a good way for me to think about work/tasks and whether I want to keep doing them or not. What I do right now is consider, at the end of investing time in a given task, whether or not I have more, the same, or less energy following that time investment. It has been hard for me to figure out whether or not I "liked" a task because every one of them are so mixed, particularly as an IT Generalist. Putting it into the context of energy levels has made it more objective for me. It has also allowed me to abstract a specific task into categories rather than focusing on technologies or maybes.

    Another layer of this is to follow up the energy question with a why. For example, if I just spent an hour configuring a switch and I feel drained (more than is appropriate), I would ask myself why do I feel more drained. Was it configuring the switch and fighting with the config? Was it because I don't really feel confident in what I'm doing, but I liked it in general? Was it because I kept getting interrupted by users?

    If you can filter through these questions it can allow you to start to see a path forward in your career. You don't have to do <task> to know whether or not you will like that specific thing (insert caveats). You can have an idea by extrapolating from the categories of things that have changed your energy.

    great things to consider, Thank you for taking the time to write this.
    Things I haven't thought about before.



  • @WrCombs said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @Kelly said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    I created this thread because of something that @WrCombs said in the What Are You Doing Right Now thread (https://mangolassi.it/post/481231).

    There are quite a few unhealthy perspectives that I have seen that stop IT Pros in their tracks when it comes to developing themselves professionally. Here are a few of them that I have seen:

    • IT jobs are hard to find and land

    • I am not as good as <person> at <task>

    • I should just be loyal/grateful for what I already have because this small business has been good to me

    • I can't decide what I want to do

    Several of these have been covered at length in other threads, so I am only going to cover the last one (I am sure others will be willing to chime in on those again).

    You've all heard the aphorism, Do something you love, and you'll never work another day in your life. There is some truth in this, but, as with all expressions like this, what it doesn't address is far larger than what it does.

    Personally, I have found a good way for me to think about work/tasks and whether I want to keep doing them or not. What I do right now is consider, at the end of investing time in a given task, whether or not I have more, the same, or less energy following that time investment. It has been hard for me to figure out whether or not I "liked" a task because every one of them are so mixed, particularly as an IT Generalist. Putting it into the context of energy levels has made it more objective for me. It has also allowed me to abstract a specific task into categories rather than focusing on technologies or maybes.

    Another layer of this is to follow up the energy question with a why. For example, if I just spent an hour configuring a switch and I feel drained (more than is appropriate), I would ask myself why do I feel more drained. Was it configuring the switch and fighting with the config? Was it because I don't really feel confident in what I'm doing, but I liked it in general? Was it because I kept getting interrupted by users?

    If you can filter through these questions it can allow you to start to see a path forward in your career. You don't have to do <task> to know whether or not you will like that specific thing (insert caveats). You can have an idea by extrapolating from the categories of things that have changed your energy.

    great things to consider, Thank you for taking the time to write this.
    Things I haven't thought about before.

    Glad I could help. I'm happy to elaborate on anything that isn't clear, or give more examples if that is helpful.



  • @Kelly said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    Another layer of this is to follow up the energy question with a why. For example, if I just spent an hour configuring a switch and I feel drained (more than is appropriate), I would ask myself why do I feel more drained. Was it configuring the switch and fighting with the config? Was it because I don't really feel confident in what I'm doing, but I liked it in general? Was it because I kept getting interrupted by users?

    I especially like your point about energy. I'd also look at focus, maybe? Are there some tasks that you can do with laser focus -- to the point that you have a hard time being distracted:? -- that type of thought pattern.



  • @dafyre said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @Kelly said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    Another layer of this is to follow up the energy question with a why. For example, if I just spent an hour configuring a switch and I feel drained (more than is appropriate), I would ask myself why do I feel more drained. Was it configuring the switch and fighting with the config? Was it because I don't really feel confident in what I'm doing, but I liked it in general? Was it because I kept getting interrupted by users?

    I especially like your point about energy. I'd also look at focus, maybe? Are there some tasks that you can do with laser focus -- to the point that you have a hard time being distracted:? -- that type of thought pattern.

    is that in the same sense as "When im doing (in my case -) Menu 'programming' Im more bored then excited, but when a Windows Issue comes In I jump on and start working through the issue?



  • @WrCombs said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @dafyre said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @Kelly said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    Another layer of this is to follow up the energy question with a why. For example, if I just spent an hour configuring a switch and I feel drained (more than is appropriate), I would ask myself why do I feel more drained. Was it configuring the switch and fighting with the config? Was it because I don't really feel confident in what I'm doing, but I liked it in general? Was it because I kept getting interrupted by users?

    I especially like your point about energy. I'd also look at focus, maybe? Are there some tasks that you can do with laser focus -- to the point that you have a hard time being distracted:? -- that type of thought pattern.

    is that in the same sense as "When im doing (in my case -) Menu 'programming' Im more bored then excited, but when a Windows Issue comes In I jump on and start working through the issue?

    Yeah, I think it would, but that's my 2c worth. I could see it fitting in with @Kelly's energy idea too.



  • @WrCombs said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @dafyre said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @Kelly said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    Another layer of this is to follow up the energy question with a why. For example, if I just spent an hour configuring a switch and I feel drained (more than is appropriate), I would ask myself why do I feel more drained. Was it configuring the switch and fighting with the config? Was it because I don't really feel confident in what I'm doing, but I liked it in general? Was it because I kept getting interrupted by users?

    I especially like your point about energy. I'd also look at focus, maybe? Are there some tasks that you can do with laser focus -- to the point that you have a hard time being distracted:? -- that type of thought pattern.

    is that in the same sense as "When im doing (in my case -) Menu 'programming' Im more bored then excited, but when a Windows Issue comes In I jump on and start working through the issue?

    Definitely. Very worth a why question for you to think about.

    The other aspect of this, that I mentioned in the other thread (adding it here for clarity and posterity), is that when you're feeling meh about things (not much energy either up or down) you can look at the things you procrastinate. If you put something off there is a reason for it. Take a look at the procrastination list and do the "why". You could learn some interesting things about yourself.



  • @dafyre said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @Kelly said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    Another layer of this is to follow up the energy question with a why. For example, if I just spent an hour configuring a switch and I feel drained (more than is appropriate), I would ask myself why do I feel more drained. Was it configuring the switch and fighting with the config? Was it because I don't really feel confident in what I'm doing, but I liked it in general? Was it because I kept getting interrupted by users?

    I especially like your point about energy. I'd also look at focus, maybe? Are there some tasks that you can do with laser focus -- to the point that you have a hard time being distracted:? -- that type of thought pattern.

    I hadn't thought about this, but you're right. Focus or lack thereof is another great thing to evaluate on.



  • Feeling drained is a great indicator. Even a busy day at work I don't feel drained, not even when I put in 14+ hours. I feel drained when there is emotional stress or something has gone really wrong that's my fault, yes. But just working doesn't drain me, it's fun. Maybe not as much fun as watching a movie and drinking a cocktail, but it's still fun and not draining. I like what I'm doing and can easily lose track of time. When I'm done working, it's because I have a reason to stop, not because I'm watching the clock or feeling a need to recharge.



  • @WrCombs said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @dafyre said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @Kelly said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    Another layer of this is to follow up the energy question with a why. For example, if I just spent an hour configuring a switch and I feel drained (more than is appropriate), I would ask myself why do I feel more drained. Was it configuring the switch and fighting with the config? Was it because I don't really feel confident in what I'm doing, but I liked it in general? Was it because I kept getting interrupted by users?

    I especially like your point about energy. I'd also look at focus, maybe? Are there some tasks that you can do with laser focus -- to the point that you have a hard time being distracted:? -- that type of thought pattern.

    is that in the same sense as "When im doing (in my case -) Menu 'programming' Im more bored then excited, but when a Windows Issue comes In I jump on and start working through the issue?

    Because menu programming is stupid fucking data entry that a monkey can do



  • @JaredBusch said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @WrCombs said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @dafyre said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @Kelly said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    Another layer of this is to follow up the energy question with a why. For example, if I just spent an hour configuring a switch and I feel drained (more than is appropriate), I would ask myself why do I feel more drained. Was it configuring the switch and fighting with the config? Was it because I don't really feel confident in what I'm doing, but I liked it in general? Was it because I kept getting interrupted by users?

    I especially like your point about energy. I'd also look at focus, maybe? Are there some tasks that you can do with laser focus -- to the point that you have a hard time being distracted:? -- that type of thought pattern.

    is that in the same sense as "When im doing (in my case -) Menu 'programming' Im more bored then excited, but when a Windows Issue comes In I jump on and start working through the issue?

    Because menu programming is stupid fucking data entry that a monkey can do

    And should be done by the customer's designated person.



  • @scotth said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @JaredBusch said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @WrCombs said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @dafyre said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @Kelly said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    Another layer of this is to follow up the energy question with a why. For example, if I just spent an hour configuring a switch and I feel drained (more than is appropriate), I would ask myself why do I feel more drained. Was it configuring the switch and fighting with the config? Was it because I don't really feel confident in what I'm doing, but I liked it in general? Was it because I kept getting interrupted by users?

    I especially like your point about energy. I'd also look at focus, maybe? Are there some tasks that you can do with laser focus -- to the point that you have a hard time being distracted:? -- that type of thought pattern.

    is that in the same sense as "When im doing (in my case -) Menu 'programming' Im more bored then excited, but when a Windows Issue comes In I jump on and start working through the issue?

    Because menu programming is stupid fucking data entry that a monkey can do

    And should be done by the customer's designated person.

    it is, they designated their support vendor to do it.



  • @scotth said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @JaredBusch said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @WrCombs said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @dafyre said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @Kelly said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    Another layer of this is to follow up the energy question with a why. For example, if I just spent an hour configuring a switch and I feel drained (more than is appropriate), I would ask myself why do I feel more drained. Was it configuring the switch and fighting with the config? Was it because I don't really feel confident in what I'm doing, but I liked it in general? Was it because I kept getting interrupted by users?

    I especially like your point about energy. I'd also look at focus, maybe? Are there some tasks that you can do with laser focus -- to the point that you have a hard time being distracted:? -- that type of thought pattern.

    is that in the same sense as "When im doing (in my case -) Menu 'programming' Im more bored then excited, but when a Windows Issue comes In I jump on and start working through the issue?

    Because menu programming is stupid fucking data entry that a monkey can do

    And should be done by the customer's designated person.

    we train them to do it, But with turn around rates through the roof, they dont show the next person how to do it.



  • @JaredBusch said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @WrCombs said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @dafyre said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @Kelly said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    Another layer of this is to follow up the energy question with a why. For example, if I just spent an hour configuring a switch and I feel drained (more than is appropriate), I would ask myself why do I feel more drained. Was it configuring the switch and fighting with the config? Was it because I don't really feel confident in what I'm doing, but I liked it in general? Was it because I kept getting interrupted by users?

    I especially like your point about energy. I'd also look at focus, maybe? Are there some tasks that you can do with laser focus -- to the point that you have a hard time being distracted:? -- that type of thought pattern.

    is that in the same sense as "When im doing (in my case -) Menu 'programming' Im more bored then excited, but when a Windows Issue comes In I jump on and start working through the issue?

    Because menu programming is stupid fucking data entry that a monkey can do

    I agree, It's mind numbing programming through a GUI .



  • @Dashrender said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @scotth said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @JaredBusch said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @WrCombs said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @dafyre said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @Kelly said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    Another layer of this is to follow up the energy question with a why. For example, if I just spent an hour configuring a switch and I feel drained (more than is appropriate), I would ask myself why do I feel more drained. Was it configuring the switch and fighting with the config? Was it because I don't really feel confident in what I'm doing, but I liked it in general? Was it because I kept getting interrupted by users?

    I especially like your point about energy. I'd also look at focus, maybe? Are there some tasks that you can do with laser focus -- to the point that you have a hard time being distracted:? -- that type of thought pattern.

    is that in the same sense as "When im doing (in my case -) Menu 'programming' Im more bored then excited, but when a Windows Issue comes In I jump on and start working through the issue?

    Because menu programming is stupid fucking data entry that a monkey can do

    And should be done by the customer's designated person.

    it is, they designated their support vendor to do it.

    For shame. Charge them $150/hr.



  • @scotth said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @Dashrender said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @scotth said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @JaredBusch said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @WrCombs said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @dafyre said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @Kelly said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    Another layer of this is to follow up the energy question with a why. For example, if I just spent an hour configuring a switch and I feel drained (more than is appropriate), I would ask myself why do I feel more drained. Was it configuring the switch and fighting with the config? Was it because I don't really feel confident in what I'm doing, but I liked it in general? Was it because I kept getting interrupted by users?

    I especially like your point about energy. I'd also look at focus, maybe? Are there some tasks that you can do with laser focus -- to the point that you have a hard time being distracted:? -- that type of thought pattern.

    is that in the same sense as "When im doing (in my case -) Menu 'programming' Im more bored then excited, but when a Windows Issue comes In I jump on and start working through the issue?

    Because menu programming is stupid fucking data entry that a monkey can do

    And should be done by the customer's designated person.

    it is, they designated their support vendor to do it.

    For shame. Charge them $150/hr.

    how did you know what we charge for programming calls over an hour?

    ...
    the way it works now is if its under 10 items we'll do it as a favor, If it'll be more than 1 hour of programming you're charged 150 /hr. for labor and it has to be scheduled .



  • @WrCombs said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @scotth said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @Dashrender said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @scotth said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @JaredBusch said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @WrCombs said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @dafyre said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @Kelly said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    Another layer of this is to follow up the energy question with a why. For example, if I just spent an hour configuring a switch and I feel drained (more than is appropriate), I would ask myself why do I feel more drained. Was it configuring the switch and fighting with the config? Was it because I don't really feel confident in what I'm doing, but I liked it in general? Was it because I kept getting interrupted by users?

    I especially like your point about energy. I'd also look at focus, maybe? Are there some tasks that you can do with laser focus -- to the point that you have a hard time being distracted:? -- that type of thought pattern.

    is that in the same sense as "When im doing (in my case -) Menu 'programming' Im more bored then excited, but when a Windows Issue comes In I jump on and start working through the issue?

    Because menu programming is stupid fucking data entry that a monkey can do

    And should be done by the customer's designated person.

    it is, they designated their support vendor to do it.

    For shame. Charge them $150/hr.

    how did you know what we charge for programming calls over an hour?

    ...
    the way it works now is if its under 10 items we'll do it as a favor, If it'll be more than 1 hour of programming you're charged 150 /hr. for labor and it has to be scheduled .

    Depending on what the request is, programming is quite expensive. I've seen upwards of $200/hr and no eyes were batted.

    EDIT: I've been charged $250/hr for help from OPs at our main software vendor. Don't worry, they deliver for the price.



  • @Kelly said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    • IT jobs are hard to find and land

    This is ALWAYS true when you are not investing in yourself by keeping up to date and is NEVER true when you are staying on top of your training and education.

    • I am not as good as <person> at <task>

    You cannot be the best at everything, and thinking your the best at everything is a huge disservice to yourself. Use the people that are more knowledgeable in a certain area to increase your knowledge in that area. It is important to note that you MUST do your own training and your own learning a particular subject before you consult an expert.

    • I should just be loyal/grateful for what I already have because this small business has been good to me

    This is the one I hate the most because I see it happen to so many smart people. You need to do what is best for you 100% of the time. Most of the time it will align with your own company, but sometimes it wont.

    • I can't decide what I want to do

    This kind of goes hand in hand with my first point. If you keep yourself current, this will NEVER be an issue.You will always find areas you love and areas you may not like. Because your continuing education should be in different areas you will always be going a new direction throughout your career.



  • @IRJ said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    This is ALWAYS true when you are not investing in yourself by keeping up to date and is NEVER true when you are staying on top of your training and education.

    One thing I’ve observed, which may only be perception, is it can seem like efforts to stay on top of training result in forever being behind.



  • @EddieJennings said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @IRJ said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    This is ALWAYS true when you are not investing in yourself by keeping up to date and is NEVER true when you are staying on top of your training and education.

    One thing I’ve observed, which may only be perception, is it can seem like efforts to stay on top of training result in forever being behind.

    I think that the concept of "behind" is misunderstood in IT. What would this mean? Behind what? Unless you set arbitrary targets, IT doesn't have an ahead or behind concept. It's not like being a doctor and no longer being certified and have to stop practicing.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @EddieJennings said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @IRJ said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    This is ALWAYS true when you are not investing in yourself by keeping up to date and is NEVER true when you are staying on top of your training and education.

    One thing I’ve observed, which may only be perception, is it can seem like efforts to stay on top of training result in forever being behind.

    I think that the concept of "behind" is misunderstood in IT. What would this mean? Behind what? Unless you set arbitrary targets, IT doesn't have an ahead or behind concept. It's not like being a doctor and no longer being certified and have to stop practicing.

    Perhaps the concept of behind is misunderstood. As I was formulating a response, I realize every idea I had is based on feelings rather than logic. 🙂 Back to my corner. 😛



  • In my experience of myself with that feeling of being behind is driven by two things:

    1. How I think my peers are doing (social media syndrome)
    2. Whether or not I know what I need to to do my job

    Rarely have I felt "behind" because of the things I wanted to learn or were interested in.



  • @Kelly said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    1. Whether or not I know what I need to to do my job

    That's part of my current disconnect. My job isn't fully aligned with my training interest.



  • @Kelly said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    How I think my peers are doing (social media syndrom

    This one is tough because we tend to associate a lot of people as peers, and to some degree are correct. But, for example...

    If you feel as a Linux Admin that a Windows Admin is a peer, you will likely always have one person that feels that they are "behind" on PowerShell and object scripting, and one that always feels that they are "behind" on text processing. But really, it's because they aren't direct peers. Sure, they are equals, but they aren't doing the exact same job.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    @Kelly said in Figuring out what you want to do professionally:

    How I think my peers are doing (social media syndrom

    This one is tough because we tend to associate a lot of people as peers, and to some degree are correct. But, for example...

    If you feel as a Linux Admin that a Windows Admin is a peer, you will likely always have one person that feels that they are "behind" on PowerShell and object scripting, and one that always feels that they are "behind" on text processing. But really, it's because they aren't direct peers. Sure, they are equals, but they aren't doing the exact same job.

    Exactly why I refer to this as the Social Media syndrome. "Based on my perception of myself in relation to this narrow slice of what I see of you (not allowing for any context), I am not as good as you." Even two Windows Admins will not have the same sets of responsibilities and scope within their job. IT (and many other jobs) is full of "oughts". I ought to do more automation. I ought to have a <type> plan. I ought to have more documentation. I ought to understand this LOB software better. I ought... I have judged myself based on my oughts and other based on their successes. It is a deceptive, and ultimately destructive, perception.


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