Somehow, in the last week, this issue has come up so many times. With so many people. Loved ones, family, friends, colleagues. Just had to write about it.
Why are our lives so driven by “office” and “work”? Every where you look around, people slogging it out. For what?
Office/work is probably the only time the majority of people consciously think about what they’re doing. Personal lives, home, mostly function on auto pilot. After 10 or 12 numbing hours of racking your brain at work, who has the energy to come home and ‘think’ or be aware of ‘home’. You come home, eat, watch TV and sleep. If you have a family – spouse/kids – a few words exchanged over dinner, some haggling over the TV remote, maybe a half an hour with the kids, and off to sleep. Just rush though every day with out feeling it, without living it.
And yet so many millions do that day after day after day. Unconsciously. Because it is so ingrained in our collective psyche today.
Very rare are those who are aware of it. And rarer those who consciously take a step back and strike a balance. Or at least try to.
I’m trying to understand, what is it that drives them .. those who toil so for their employers. Why? What is it that they get out of it?
I’m very clear about why I go to work – 1) the money. 2) the appreciation of a job well done, the kick of it. And I know my limits. I know just how much of my personal life I’m willing to give up for work. If I were paid as much to stay at home and take care of Juno, I’d happily do that. I think raising a kid well is more daunting and challenging and important and fulfilling than any SW I write, than any new chip, technology or anything. Thankfully, I like my current job and my team. I do my job well. And in return my limits are understood and respected. And I’m grateful for that.
[Years ago, when I started working and was naive and idealist (heck, I still am!), I thought it was for the love of it.. i wanted to work at a ‘technically challenging’ job, on some cutting edge technology blah-blah that would change the world. Money didnt matter. And that’s how I chose all my jobs. The years in between and a home loan changed that thinking. I realise now that money matters. Sabse bada rupaiyah. And I kick myself for not speaking up and asking for more in all those job interviews and appraisals gone by. Sigh. But I ramble. ]
But then I see so many people around me – mostly guys 😉 who are soo committed to their work, that they forget all about home, family or their responsibilities ‘other than work’. Whether its submitting tax reciepts, calling the plumber, getting groceries..all these ‘essential’ tasks, dont figure on their list. They’ve put in 12 long hours at work. They’ve done their job. Nothing else needs to be done. They forget all the small every day tasks that need to be done to ‘live’ in today’s age. To run a household. All that’s left for the woman to manage. Even if she also has a day job/career. If the woman reminds the guy about these everyday tasks, its nagging. If she juggles it all herself, heck, whats the big deal. Its just a bunch of everyday tasks. Most guys dont realise that those everyday tasks, like the laundy, pile up; they take time and energy and planning and doing. And ALL of that adds up. Exponentially. Maybe its because none of these are quantifiable, paying tasks.
I see these people missing family time, time with kids, holidays, important milestones etc etc because they are away at work. Why? They have a commitment at work, to meet a deadline, to take care of a client, to complete a project. What about the commitment to your family – spouse and kids?
Whats the reward you get for that commitment to your office? Overtime pay? A pat on the back from the boss? A better rating in your appraisal – that has chances of being botched up due to ‘company policy’ and writing off an entire year’s hard work? Or for a bonus? A raise? How much? How much ‘raise’ would justify the loss of your personal time – all that time away from family? Or is it a misplaced feeling of being indispensable – that if they’re not around to complete the job, the company will crash? 2 years later, is anyone at work going to remember how you spent 20 hours straight to meet some deadline? 5 yrs later will anyone remember how you worked 14 hrs a day for 6 months straight to handle a tough client? They’ll all probably be scattered across the globe by then and they may not even remember your name. But a kid is going to remember a every trip to the park you were there for. And every cricket game you missed. For life.
When you’re old and infirm – who’s going to be around to take you to the loo?
So why do people put their personal lives on hold to slog it out for some employer – some corporate to whom they dont matter?