I've been toiling in and around the "IT Certification patch" as I sometimes like to call it, since the mid- to late 1990s (Exam Cram made its initial appearance in 1997). Over the past 15 years or more, I've had occasion to advise and work with countless IT pros in search of a career boost. If there's one thing I've learned to remind them about as they formulate a career development strategy, it's got to be "don't forget: you have a life!"
What am I trying to say? I'm trying to remind my peers and colleagues that they need to be realistic in planning their personal and professional development capers, and to remember that they have other things to do with their spare time aside from studying, preparing for, and practicing to pass their next certification exam.
Where do I get off saying something like this? As somebody who's spent more than enough hours working late nights, weekends, and holidays I can tell you that you don't want your loved ones to remember that you burned the midnight oil to get ahead, if it comes at the cost of other, more pleasant memories of playing ball, cooking out, camping, or simply walking around the block with someone you love and really care about, chatting quietly and holding hands.
Although it is very good to get ahead, and to take well-planned and carefully crafted steps to build a career and boost your income, there's more to life than work. And especially, there's more to leisure time than working ceaselessly and relentlessly to improve your career prospects.
At a minimum, you might want to consider carving up your time not spent working, sleeping, or commuting so that you give at least half of those hours to the significant others in your life. That way, you can look back at your glorious and checkered career as an octogenarian and say to yourself: "I struck a good balance between work and life." Or you can count on whiling those golden years away alone in some assisted living facility somewhere...
Seriously, though, it is important to remember that life is more than work, and preparing for work, improving your work and career prospects, and chasing the Almighty Dollar (or the other currency of your choice and dreams). If you have trouble convincing yourself of this, remember this old saying: "Nobody is ever recorded as saying on his or her deathbed: 'Gee! I wish I'd spent more time at work.'" Amen!