I originally trained as a programmer, and worked for a couple of years in PHP/web development.
I found: horribly long hours, socially isolating work, businessmen who got their kicks out of paying minimum wage (admittedly I was too fresh out of college to have the skills to negotiate a salary package). Unrealistic deadlines set by business people with zero understanding of the tasks at hand. Being on-call. All in all, serious work-life balance issues.
I've also worked as a graphic/print designer for a year or so, which... I found to be a pretty enjoyable lifestyle, and it seemed to be easier to live a balanced life. But, obviously, this path is very difficult to make a living out of.
Now, with a few years behind me, I've been free for a while, and I'm trying to figure out what to do next with my life.
What I'm concerned about mainly, is work-life balance. It's important to me that I be a reasonably balanced person - I like to socialise, exercise, read books, want a girlfriend, etc. I like technology, but honestly I don't want to be that socially-isolated programmer anymore.
Now, I'm a much more mature, grown-up person than I was a few years ago, so I have no doubt I'd be better at balancing it this time around - and negotiating a salary package - but my question is, what are your experiences and thoughts about work-life balance? What is your work-life balance as a developer like? What about others you've met?
Honestly, so far in my career, I can't say I've met a programmer that I'd consider to be a balanced individual. Some were okay, but most were the socially-inept, extremely-attached-to-his-code stereotype. If I don't want to go down that route again, where could I go from here?