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Monday, October 18, 2010

Career conflicts-Happiness of your family and your professional growth

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Happiness and success in life is all about choices that we make.

One thing is sure that you cannot keep everyone happy and at times you need to choose or prioritize whose happiness is most important to you. It is these decisions which set the pace of your life. It is these decisions which reflect your values and principles.

If you are not happy, you cannot make others happy, howsoever hard you may try. It is like, love yourself and respect yourself to be loved and respected by others.

We all have gone through this dilemma at one or another stage of our life, when we have to choose between the happiness of our family and our professional growth and have to sacrifice one for another. You need both love and support of your family and success and growth in your professional life (in your career). You cannot give your 100% to your family and 0% to your profession and you cannot give 0% to your family and 100% to your profession. It is like Game Theorem, wherein the actual size of market will remain same and loss of one will be gain of another and it is up to the individual to set the balance.

In this article we will learn about that conflict of our life.

Understanding the Family

You cannot have control on your birth. Once you are in this world and grown-up enough to understand, who you are, you start making choices. At that stage you should not bother about anyone except your parents. Once you complete your basic qualification, your schooling, you start making choices and here whatever choice you make or the decision that you take, will have long-lasting effect in your life. Then you choose area of your interest and followed by your decision about the type of career that you want. You choose to get married. You choose to have kids. Now, for you your family consists of your parents, your spouse and your kids. Sometimes, you can have "Conflict of Interest" in these family members as well.

Understanding the need to have profession / career

Love, care, understanding and togetherness, all these are required in life but along with these things, you need many other things in life and for that you need money. You don't need to be a billionaire or the wealthiest person in the world, but you need fair amount of money / wealth to get the basic necessities of life, which can be as basic as food, shelter and cloths.

1. You need money to buy a house

2. You need money to give good education and career to your kids

3. You need money to take care of the medical needs and healthcare issues of your family

4. You need "enough" money to take care of you (without being dependent on your kids) after your retirement

And this money needs to be earned.

Apart from financial security, you need professional growth to

1. Be Respected

2. Be Recognized

3. Be Rewarded

4. Satisfy your ego

5. Feel the power

6. Motivate your inner self

To grow professionally, you need the support of your family (mostly your spouse, if you are married) and you need professional growth to take care of your family in a better manner.

Professional Crisis - Relocation (Case Study)

If I get everything at my door-step, I do not need to go anywhere and my life will be so peaceful and satisfying. But, that is not the case. Sometimes, due to professional commitments, you need to move to a different place and that is a real crisis that most of us face in our professional life and it is here that you need the utmost support of your family. Here, there are three situations:

1) You are unmarried.

2) You are married and your spouse is not working.

3) You are married and both of you are working.

4) You are married but do not have kids. Or you have kids but they are less than five years of age.

5) You are married and have grown-up kids.

I asked one question in my training program to understand the thinking process of people. Question was: "You get an opportunity in a different city (might be in a different country), for a salary three-times your present salary and for a designation, which is four levels above your present designation. What will you do? Will you accept the offer?"

There is a clear difference in the thought process of male and female respondents.

87% of females are of the opinion that for them family is important. If they are working, they will not accept such job offer (career advancement) and they expect the similar decision from their male counterparts.

69% of males prefer togetherness with their family over such career advancement.

Here are some of the responses:

1. Abhinav Sahai (Business Analyst at Ernst & Young): "Personally, I feel that career is very important in life and one person from a family can make the entire family proud of his actions. As in armed forces, they work dedicatedly and whole-heartedly but still they go back to their families at least once a year. So the family ties are important, but the chance to make an impact on your professional life is also worth a lifetime of an effort"

2. Nauman Malik (Research & Development Director and Software Consultant): "Simple answer is, if family is supportive and has some good understanding then one can work at any place in the world. It totally depends on the understanding level.

3. Taruna Rao Madan (Project Manager at Amdocs Dev Ltd): "Its completely matter of priorities; and everyone has their own priority. Priorities differ from time to time; for a person starting the career, profession takes upper seat and as a married person family becomes more important. I also feel that if one side is family emotions / marriage and on the other side is your profession, both sides can complement each other and can restrict each other. It depends on how people involved in it deal with the situation. I guess it happens with nearly everyone and people involved have to choose; sometimes it's at a smaller scale and sometimes it's a major decision.

For sure one needs family support to pursue profession or a dream. For that matter one needs family support for almost everything. Sacrifice / moving out of comfort zones - yes is required for all and not just for the person in question".

4. Mohsin M (Manager Process & Strategies at YS Consulting): In Such cases and situations one should

a. Do a cost-benefit analysis...

b. Match non-quantifiable gains with non-quantifiable losses.

c. Develop alternatives and see if it is worth...

d. Discuss and Convince Family

e. Let the end decision be something which brings happiness for family since it's directly related to ones happiness.

5. Joseph Davis (Vice President at Hyperion Resources): "We all make choices in life, but I don't think it is nearly as black and white as your comments. First, starting out in a career, we all make choices. You choose not to be a doctor because you don't like to be around illness. You choose not to be a salesman because you know you are introverted. You choose not to be a farmer because you want to live in the city. You choose not to marry someone because she does/doesn't want a family, etc".

Personally, I wanted to be an oceanographer, until my first cruise, when I learned that all 3 of my mentors were divorced because of their constant travel. So I adjusted my career path. The important thing is not to get locked-in to one path, either in your own mind, your spouse's mind, or in your boss's/company's mind. Keep your options open and never say "never"

6. Sophia Dembling (Freelance writer): "I don't disagree at all that work and money are important and work in particular is in many ways emotionally fulfilling. I can't imagine not working. But I also think that to have healthy relationships as well (and this goes for both sides of the relationships), compromise is necessary. That may mean fitting your ambitions to the needs of one's family, if they are saying they feel neglected. Or it may mean that the family needs to up and move to support the breadwinner's career. That's something only husband and wife can work out. But to my mind, all the money in the world could not substitute for time with my husband, or time with a loving father. I would not want to reach old age with lots of money but starved relationships".

7. Liesl Leary (Sr. Localization Strategist--Enabler of Multilingual Communications and Solutions): "In the United States, 98% of Fortune 500 CEO's are male. Try to imagine the reasons why this must be. Is it because women are less ambitious than men? Is it because they are less intelligent? Is it because they are lazy? The book "Off-Ramps and On-Ramps" by Sylvia Ann Hewlett discusses the findings of a comprehensive survey done by the Hidden Brain Drain committee. They found that many women specifically choose to take lower level work and avoid promotions so they can balance work and life. What's interesting is that they point out that the age where you're supposed to catch your wave and get on the fast track coincides exactly with women's peak fertility and peak childcare demands. Up until the age of 30, men and women are on the same career path with equal status and pay.

Moreover, if you're not derailed by a toddler at 30, you'll be derailed by aging parents at 50--also a responsibility traditionally shouldered by women. Many women choose to simply stay home to deal with the pressure but 97% of women want to come back within 5 years of leaving the workforce. However, getting back is difficult when employers see the "time-out" as a question of dedication and ambition. In this light, it's obvious that marriage and children restrict professional growth if we keep playing with the rules that were established by men at the dawn of industry. However, if the rules were to change, e.g. if non-linear career paths were respected as much as linear career paths, or if flexible hours were not stigmatized, or if working-from home was seen as disaster-preparedness (especially in light of events like 9/11 or in my case, winter) and not as a mommy-privilege, beloved professions may not have to be sacrificed for marriage and family both for men and for women".

8. Yvonne Michele Anderson (Independent Film Producer / Internet Entrepreneur / Non-Profit and Media Consultant): "This is a question of priorities, and of personal preferences in respect of individual families. It is difficult to balance work and family, and often the choices which one must make are not ideal. There is no ideal must decide their priorities, and move on from there. One needs money, most certainly, but one should not sacrifice certain things for money. For me, work must be balanced with family, and family is more important, in the end. If I were married and had children, and my husband moved far away for work, I would not be happy with that situation.

9. Regina Yau: (Associate Director at RUSS Consulting)"Family ties in Asia being as strong as they are, for most Asians it would be contest when choosing between family and career - one should always put family first. At the same time, Asian families being as ambitious as they are as a family unit, most young people are encouraged to leave the family, go abroad and really go for all the opportunities to climb the career ladder. Wives often follow husbands when their husbands move to further their careers. When there is an offer too good to pass up, the whole family moves and the kids just have to roll with it. When one family member attains success, the whole family basks in the reflected glory.

10. Mohamed Taher (Information Coordinator at Ontario Multifaith Council): "The answer in short is, you need to be married at home (be homely and committed to the partner) and at work (be professional and committed to the passion); you can't be a bachelor at work, or vice versa. That means, you have to have two partners (in your mind you can have a divided personality)--human companionship for 8 hours at home, and business-partnership for 8 hours at @ work; Committed to each individually and wholly.

11. Anuja Rathi (Language Instructor at anilingual International School of Languages): "I've seen quite a few people turn down wonderful job offers either because their family is not open to the idea of moving, or because they themselves would feel guilty asking their families to pack their bags, relocate and start afresh at a completely unknown place. In spite of the fact that my direct answer to your Q would be "maybe", I'd like to elaborate upon it a bit.

If it is only about the spouse, I don't think the problem is too big, as the spouse can seek an opportunity at the new location. If you have small kids in tow, then finding a good school and other basics also need to be planned out. When all are willing, family does not restrict professional growth.

Changing cities/countries is more difficult when the kids grow up and feel they "belong" to one place and not the other. Hence, the sooner you move, the better it is. Once your family "takes root" at a particular location, its hard to uproot it, as the entire package of emotions and choices have to be dealt with. Most of us wouldn't leave our family, and go off someplace permanently. If its for a short while, then maybe the offer merits a thought.

In the end, it all depends on the individual's priorities, his cognitions, family values and mutual understanding. If all converge, then professional growth need not be restricted, and if they diverge, then subjective opinions and decisions prevail. Hope this helps".

12. Sujatha Das (Freelance Consultant): "I would look at it this way: It is our choice to do what we feel like depending on the priority that we give to our relationships. I am sure no one can force us to get married or have kids. It is a personal choice of the individual to do so and hence once they take this decision, they have to also abide to maintain their commitments.

We are committed to our spouse and kids by our own choice we made once, so are we not supposed to keep our commitments. Hence, feeling that personal commitments are coming in way to professional life is not the right thing according to me.

As human beings, when we are unable to take up some of these good opportunities, we feel sad and sometimes brood over it, but again here we are supposed to make the choice".

13. Seema Singh (Faculty in Design department at Pearl Academy of Fashion): "More than displacement issues, it is the non-understanding part of your family members about your job demands and your goals in life that create a bigger problem. Also, if your spouse is homely or lets say not so achievement oriented as you, that can be mega-reason for you not being a persona you could otherwise had become. I think for this reason, marriages are dysfunctional in actual only pretend to yourself and the world that it is ok with you. However, you know its not and is never going to be. You just do it for the sake that it does no harm to you than what it had already done".

My Opinion - I believe that

No war could have been won

No nation would have attained independence and

We would not have heard names like GE, Microsoft, Dell, IBM, Oracle, EDS, Intel, Sun Microsystems et al, had everyone thought the way most of you have expressed themselves.

No one can dare to dream and no dream can ever become a reality...if everyone starts thinking in the similar manner.

We need to understand this from the perspective of Armed Forces. They move from one place to another place, after some years, at times with their family and sometimes without family; if they also start thinking in the same manner then who will take care of the boarders of your country. You can have any high-profile career, sports, entertainment etc, most of the time these people stay away from their family to keep their professional commitments.

Yes, you are working for your family and one of the responsibilities that you have on your shoulder is to give them a better career. You can give better career by giving them proper education and I order to get that education (that level), they not only need to be sharp and intelligent but you too should be financially strong to let them get that education. To be financially strong, one must have good must take good opportunities; one must sacrifice something, you cannot get everything and more so you cannot get "free things". There is no free-lunch.

You can grow professionally by moving up in your professional ladder and moving out of your comfort zone and by sacrificing some of your happiness and comforts. And to do all this, you need the support of your family. So, to my understanding, spouse and families should support you rather than restricting and/or limiting your growth.


Taking decisions such as relocation, no doubt is a question of setting priorities. Professional Growth and the happiness of your family are very important and you cannot have one at the cost of another but you need to understand the purpose of your living. You also need to consider your happiness. How can you spread happiness, if you yourself are not happy? A bit of compromise here and there and a little bit of adjustment is always required. Make a choice and then move on.

Always, remember you cannot make everyone happy.

Have a great day and take care.

Looking for your comments and feedback

Sanjeev Himachali

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Sanjeev Himachali

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