Tom, at TrueTalk Blog, expanded on my Electronic Arts post to show the
other side of the job dilemma. Where my post on EA showed the "joys" of
working for an electronic sweat shop, his post, Hourmania, discussed
the far more common trap of losing ones life and family to the
seductive lure of an apparently ideal job.
He describes a work situation which most creative people would sell their soul for:
I work with some of the most talented designers in the world.
They’re boundlessly creative, hugely energetic, and work harder than
anyone I’ve ever seen. Unlike the EA story, No one is driving them to
do so. They drive themselves. Their standards continually escalate, and
the work gets better still.
I worked in that kind of environment more than once. These
were the most intensely rewarding positions I have ever held. These
were also the times when I did the greatest damage to my personal
relationships outside of work.
Tom puts his finger on the problem:
We have to get past this "work/life balance" rhetoric and think
more deeply about our expectations of ourselves. We have to be able to
come up with an answer to when "enough" is "enough."
There is no pat answer for this one, but I see a number of young people
making more intelligent choices than I did. For example, I see
two-career families where one family member puts a career on hold in
order to raise a pre-school age child. This is their alternative to
paying for full-time child care. They are taking a long-term view of
what is important and I think that is the key.
I think that taking the "main chance" is appropriate when that dream
job comes along, but both the worker and the family need to set a time
limit and a purpose for the immersion in the dream job.
If you think of the opportunity
as a career/financial booster with a finite window of opportunity, it might
work out best for all concerned.
The dedication can be intense, but like going to college or back for
an advanced degree, the primary focus should be on what comes
Employment today is temporary. Like it or not, you are an employee at will. You can be
let go for cause or no cause. There is only one long-term solution.
Every job you take should be part of a
plan to equip you for full self-employment at some later point in life.
When one is post-retirement age as I am, there are few positions
available even for the most highly skilled professionals. The internet
shakeup of 2001 spilled hundreds of thousands of experienced workers
into the ranks of unemployed. Many of the over-fifty group are still
looking for work. The only solution for most others was to work for
Pensions are a thing of the past and Social Security may be a mirage,
but a skilled person with business acumen and a nest egg can always
generate income. The ideal jobs are those that prepare you for
long-term job security as your own boss.
What do you think? I welcome your thoughts on this.
UPDATE: I have written another post, the ideal job – part 2, to provide some help in recognizing an ideal job.