The things we do for the corner office (and why)

The internet is flooded with articles urging you to stop glorifying the 9 to 5, to pack up your bags and set out on that adventure you set aside for ‘one day’, to ditch the monday blues and live a little.

It sounds poetic but decisions are not born of a whim. The corporate world teaches you some inexplicable things about your life. You don’t own it and you certainly cannot live it on your own terms. You will barely make it for your cousin’s wedding, miss a few, seldom have the entire weekend to yourself, skip being home for important festivals and it basically goes downhill from then on. But really, how did this culture really become so engraved in society that it became acceptable? Are we really given a choice?

I recently met someone who had a 4 year old son and I asked her if he had started going to school already. She told me how she wasn’t in a rush and once she put her 4 year old in a school, his life would practically be over. I was a little taken aback at first by her statement but then I had time to think about it. That child was going to be bound by routine, pressured for grades, would probably take a loan for college, get a job where he couldn’t complain so he could pay off his debt, get married, have more responsibilities, get a better job for a better pay to meet those responsibilities, save more for a rainy day, hospitals, children’s education and he would probably want to do something for his parents too.

It just doesn’t end. In fact, it feels easier just accepting the truth of life and work without complaining. How then, do these almost comical statements, “live the life you love” “do everything you love” fit in? Was it the brave ones who quit the 9 to 5 without a financial backing (lets be honest, money is a necessity) or was it the lucky ones who never had to experience it or could just leave it because they didn’t need the money?

I do think it is time for restructuring. While competition in the market may be good, I don’t know if it is healthy for life. Is it ok to be SO short on time, you forget to look up from your desk and watch the sunset, to actually achieve enough that you get your sea facing corner office but never enjoy it? Is it ok, to always want more, to “strive to be better”? What do you want your eulogy to read?

X : 19xx to 20xx – Fondly remembered because he was better than Y at Z”

The only thing you should want to be better than, is the person you were yesterday. If you want to spend 5 hours with your new born and you are unable to, that is what you need to be better at- being a parent. If your parents are old and ailing and all you can do is send them money, you need to be a better son. These are the things you need to be better at.

I am not saying everyone needs to quit their jobs. But I do feel everyone needs to re-prioritise and understand the importance of time. Of how fleeting it is and how little of it we have. And once we understand that, and be truthful in every interview we take about what truly drives us, perhaps, to be better providers for our families rather than whatever dishonest answer we have always been giving, fanning the ego of our interviewers, we would be a generation better equipped to design a more sustainable future for the generations to come.

It takes all kinds to make the world. Maybe you are built to be a corporate shark, then you must be that but do what makes you happy.

There are a lucky few who realise what their life’s purpose is. Those, that find their calling. I hope all of you do. And once you find the way of life you love, I hope you also find the courage to live it.

Love,

A.

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