Your list of character traits is spot-on. I have a couple of specific comments to offer, though.
#2: problem solver
You talk about some stereotypical ways some people enjoy solving problems. Unfortunately, in IT consulting, the problems one has to solve are often not very unenjoyable. In fact, I don't usually like math or word problems, and both competitive problem solving games and individual "diagram" problem solving games (crosswords, sudoku, et cetera) annoy me. I don't really find optimization challenges in day-to-day life particularly fun, either.
Rather, I find them obsessing. I feel kinda like I simply must solve optimization problems in my life. My problem-solving penchant isn't so much about enjoyment (though I do enjoy some types of problem solving activities, a lot of the time, including some programming tasks) as it is about an undeniable internal motivation to make things work better. When I write a program, I keep wanting to fix it, to make it better. When I implement a backup solution, I keep wanting to make it more robust and make backup tests more simplified and automated. When I play a roleplaying game, I keep wanting to fix the inconsistencies, arbitrary clunkiness, and impositions of unreality in the game system (and, in fact, I've been writing quite a bit about RPG system design in my personal Weblog lately).
When you talk about giving yourself a life outside consulting, you touch on a sensitive area for me. The problem is that, even though I have quite a bit of a life outside of consulting, I don't really have a lot of life outside of work, in some sense.
Major activities in my life include:
1. consulting -- and I do a lot of related work outside of actual work, because it's a subject that interests me, but it's still very work-like activity a lot of the time.
2. writing -- Not only do I write about subjects related to consulting (thus not breaking free of consulting), as in the TechRepublic IT Security Weblog, but I also write a lot in my personal Weblog, SOB. When I write, it's usually not much of a "leisure" activity; I tend to aim more for thoughtful analyses of a variety of subjects important to me. That tends to take on much the same character as the professional writing I do, with research, cross-referencing, and long hard thinking, which means that it's mostly a case of yet more "work" in my life -- even when I'm writing about gaming, as I mentioned above.
3. gaming -- I play roleplaying games, of course, but since I took up GMing again about a year ago I've gradually ended up doing more and more of the GMing amongst the games in which I participate. Of the amount of effort I put into gaming, the lion's share by far is preparation for the (roughly) weekly game I run. Of all the games I play, the one I run on Thursdays is by far the most structured, with the largest group of players, which means that -- though I enjoy the experience -- it's also the game that's the most work for the GM, and of course the GM is always the player with the most work to do in a well-run game. Even when I'm playing games in my off-time, I'm "working", to some extent.
4. politics -- I devote a fair bit of time to matters related to politics, too. I care about the world in which I live, and try to improve it (and its livability). That's not exactly a pursuit I'd list amongst "fun" and "leisure" activities, though. In fact, if you're involved in politics and it's "fun", you're probably either not aware enough of the issues with which you're dealing or doing it for the "wrong" reasons.
I could go on in some more depth, of course -- like the fact that a lot of the reading I do is work-related, or the fact that a lot of the reading that isn't strictly work-related is for autodidactic purposes so that there's kind of an element of work ethic involved. A lot of my supposed online "leisure" time is spent reading things that tie back into various avenues of work.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that, in some ways, I don't seem to know how to "shut off" and just relax. The closest I seem able to get to that is sitting in a movie theater from time to time (very rarely, these days, in part because I don't care to give the MPAA much of my money) and of course sleeping.
For years now, it hasn't seemed to affect my work, and it gives me purpose -- reasons to roll out of bed in the mornings. I wonder if I'm bound for a crash and burn in a few more years, though. I think I handle the stresses pretty well, taking things in stride that many people might find almost unendurable, but I guess I'll know for sure when I find out whether I'm going to have a stroke or heart attack at 40.
Wish me luck.
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