In the many career advising situations that I have been confronted with over the years, it was often the case that we would be discussing the ideal position. The candidate had ‘almost’ everything he/she wished for. It was challenging, promotional opportunities, great product, awesome culture and very good financial incentives etc. I had the ideal candidate. Just one snag; it meant that the person had to either relocate his or her family to a different part or another geographical region as the daily commute was not possible. In another similar case, no relocation this time but changing position meant 60 to 80% air travel. How do we balance these situations with a healthy family life?
In the case of relocation; the more sensible candidate would respond by asking for some time to discuss the situation with their partner. Some would revert back and compromise in that the person might commute on a weekly basis and be home in the weekends. The few that relocated were more desperate for a new life, their children were grown up, or felt it was their only option due to a totally unfulfilling current role or in certain cases no role. Put simply they felt they had little choice and their decision was purely economic. Most would come back and say no. The upheaval and burden were too great on the family, the children at school, their home, their friends, sense of community etc. They would be happy to patiently wait for something else closer to home and make the most of their current position.
In the case of a high level of business travelling, this was straight forward. Many can cope with 20% to 40% business travelling in the year when it becomes very manageable even enjoyable. Beyond this i.e. 60% or above definitely becomes a strain on yourself and your family life at home. When I was asked to recruit for these persons I would search for the younger single type with little ties. Senior businessmen that I met that were married and travelled in the high percentage barrier 60% (In some case I have heard 80%) were often living difficult family situations and were ultimately unfulfilled.
I give these examples in that sometimes we are confronted with very difficult decisions in our careers. If you want something so badly that may impact your family or is not coherent to your inner value system, surely the sensible, more measured or even courageous approach is to take time out, reflect, reason and think through on the best possible outcome and its consequences where sacrifice of our own personal need might take increased consideration before anything else.
My view is that any career decision that negatively impacts family life or worst of all may victimise children is an evil one. Furthermore a child brought up with a father or mother hardly at home is harmful. Plus what is no good is getting so tied up with your work whereby squeezing aside your family or using your work and other activities as a form of escapism from your private life. It goes without saying that work holism is nothing to be proud of; it falls into the category of addictions & aholism i.e. this compulsive need to do something or craving implying that in truth there must be something deeper at fault or missing in you as a person.
In brief a life balance is essential to our wellbeing; family life is one of the greatest contributions any human being can make toward our children and society, and parenthood is one of the greatest fulfilments and joy any human being could wish for. Anyone disagree?
‘It is never too late for us to become what we might have been’
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