The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Is Family or Work More Important?
Imagine one day you come into work, you find that your co-worker has passed away. You probably still have to go about your day. If you cannot, they usually afford the services of human resources, with a psychologist on hand, to help you get through your week. Chances are, maybe you and a few others are upset, but for the most part, everyone goes about their work week, and eventually, while that co-workers is gone, he or she is never forgotten. However, since it was a co-worker, whom most in the office were probably not close to, and as time goes on, and new people are hired, it becomes just another work day. Eventually, usually within a few weeks, that person is also replaced by another who assumes their position.
To the family, who grew up with that person, who looked to that person, who was raised by that person, or who raised that person, however, everyday is a reminder of the loss of that person. The family deals with the pain and suffering of the true loss, a life where that person they once loved. The family are the ones who deal with the immediate aftermath of the death, from taking care of funeral arrangements, to trying to figure out what to do in cleaning up that person’s life, sending the death certificate to the proper authorities, etc. This is all the family’s responsibility and for the next few weeks after that person is gone, the family is trying to capture moments of the person’s life, because unfortunately, for most people, we do not have all of our shit together (link to get your shit together), but imagine if we did, how much easier it would be to leave our families with everything they need.
While we may spend over 40 hours a week with our co-workers, and as much as I do emphasize in a lot of my writings, that our co-workers become our families, the truth is that, in essence, they are our work family, but not our immediate family. Our loss would be devastating for everyone who knew us, especially if we were well liked or well loved. This is not to say that some co-workers may feel it more than others, but for the most part, family is the immediate and the ones who are responsible and the ones who are affected the most.
When it comes to your job, your work, your career, not that you shouldn’t make it some priority, but it should be obvious that family should be the number one priority in your life, as they are the ones who feel your loss the most. A job is a job. Even a career is just a career. Many of us don’t even have our careers yet, or we have at least a half dozen or more throughout our lives. This is not advice for you to up and leave your job immediately and make your family number one, while completely disregarding your other responsibilities. The point of writing this is to make you aware that if a job asks you to stay those extra hours all the time, but you have a family at home waiting, and while I know work can sometimes be important, the fact is that if you have a family waiting at home, they value you much more than your job does.
You may be an asset and you may provide a means for your company to continue its wonderful operations, in which you might land them big accounts, make sales of whatever product they are selling, or you might even be running your own business that is costing you 60+ hours a week. This is all well and good, but when you look back on your life, especially in those days when you reach retirement, where your younger family is now working, doing the same things you did, and has no time for you, what will you think, then? I can probably predict that most people don’t look back on their lives and think, “Wow, I wish I worked more often for that company.”
No. Most people are probably thinking, “Wow, I wish I got to spend more time with my wife, my son, my daughter, and my grandchildren.” Work is definitely important, but it is not so important that your family becomes secondary in your life. I get it: Many of us are workaholics and money keeps us going, it pays the bills, it puts food on the table. The whole system is designed to keep us busy, and we love it, or at least, we accept it. But imagine spending exactly as long as you needed to at work, ending your day officially coming home, and truly spending time with your family. Your wife. Your son. Your daughter. The dog. The cat. The fish. Whatever other animals you have in the house.
Unfortunately, many people end work, come home, and continue to work. I am highly guilty of this myself, as I am not just a web developer at my day job, but I’m a freelancer on the side, a blogger, and in business for myself, developing software services. To this day, I say to myself, “I’m going to spend more time with my lady. I’m going to go visit my parents. I’m going to go do this and that…” And while I do sometimes, I don’t always. Someday, I hope it changes. But someday, might lead to, someday .. I cannot change it.
Love your family, cherish them, they cherish you, far more than your job ever can. All jobs can be replaced. All careers can be established. Your family? You only get one lifetime to spend with them. Enjoy the time you get with them before its too late or you all become way too busy focusing on chasing dreams, rather than living reality with your family.