Some travel required – why some IT jobs should come with divorce benefits instead of dental benefits

 

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The statistics are staggering that over 50% of marriages end in divorce but what about high-tech travelling consultants’ marriages? 82%. As a traveling IT consultant you are much more likely to get divorced than stay married. That’s just a statistical fact.

If you work in the high-tech consulting industry, finding someone who has not been divorced at least once is quite a feat. What is it about this industry that makes it near impossible to sustain a healthy long term relationship?

Well let’s compare it to a professional field where the marriage statistics just rock. Optometry. Optometrists manage an awesome 4% divorce rate. The absolute lowest in the professional field. Are they simply better people? Not likely…. It is probably their job.

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Attribute

IT Consulting

Optometrist

Travel

Extensive – 50%+

None

Available Hours to be Home Each Week

88 hours

128 hours

Client and Non client engagement not including partner or spouse (Bus. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, entertainment)

14 hours weekly

0 hours

Off-site Seminars and professional development per year

370 hours

40 hours

Flexibility (ability to arrange schedule to family matters)

20%

79%

Stress

High

Low

Hours to Compensate for Stress

6 hours

0 hours

Average Length of Interaction with same Clients/Patients weekly (minutes)

1140 minutes

20 minutes

Opportunities for Intimacy with partner/spouse (weekly)

~3

7+

Personally I made the decision early in my career to be in global consulting. Travelling extensively for 30 years and for over 10 consecutive years, I travelled every week, on the road for 1 or 2 weeks at a time, leaving for a flight on Sunday and flying home again the following Friday night. Sometimes I got back Friday, sometimes Saturday and sometimes I never made it back at all. There is no question that my career benefited from this. I have been very well paid, I have a business track-record and resumé that rocks, I can work anywhere in the world and command high compensation. I told myself that I was doing it for my family, perhaps I was but it came at a terrible cost to them and myself.

I laugh when people ask where I have worked in the world, I tell them and inevitably the comment that follows is “oh, you are so lucky to get to travel like that!” No, not really. The sheer irony of racking up air miles for the opportunity to get back on an aircraft for your vacations is really quite funny. I once donated over 600,000 Delta skymiles, just to get rid of them before they expired.

The optometrist will get to see his or her kids grow up, take their first step, hit their first baseball, play their first recital and ride their first horse. The travelling IT consultants will get to see some of them, but not all and what builds behind each missed opportunity is not recognition that you are providing well for your family but with each missed event another seed of disappointment is planted. All you need now is a stressed parent & partner arriving home after flight delays, lost luggage and routing through Cincinnati with a 7 hour lay-over to bring some dampened spirits to get those seeds of disappointment to grow.

In the past week I have seen two colleagues make polar opposite decisions in this matter. One colleague left our company to take a significant career jump in an overseas job where their family will only be able to reconnect occasionally in-person for some years. Another colleague left our company because the toll the job was taking was too high and they wanted to spend more quality time with their spouse and children. I have a tremendous amount of respect for both of these professionals but what I know with absolute mathematical certainty is that the Optometrist gets to keep their marriage and family intact more often.  If you want that statistical advantage you need to pick jobs that:

  • Give you more available hours to be home each week
  • Allow you to interact with your partner/spouse more than you do with clients
  • Gives you the flexibility to schedule time around family events (school concerts, sports, practices, birthdays, graduations etc.)
  • Keeps stress under control, so you don’t need non-family outlets to control the stress. (healthy or otherwise)
  • Let’s you spend more quality time with your family, than colleagues and clients
  • Let’s you can keep the home fires burning in your love life.

At least you will have a fighting chance.

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One Response to Some travel required – why some IT jobs should come with divorce benefits instead of dental benefits

  1. Jen says:

    Makes me sad to read this. I guess I always hoped there was more of a chance for achieving both but it solidifies that I made the right choice for me and my family when I stopped traveling when pregnant with my first child.

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