The right way to think about work!

The right way to think about work!
Photo by Hope House Press - Leather Diary Studio / Unsplash

While thinking about today's post, I was reminded of my grandfather's words. He always taught me the best way to prioritise tasks between different spheres of life, such as taking leave from work versus attending a family function, or attending a social gathering versus spending time alone, is to use the following framework, listed in order of importance:

  1. Country
  2. Work
  3. Family
  4. Society
  5. Self

In my younger days, I never fully understood what (and why) he was trying to teach me, but as I grew older, started working, started a family, started volunteering in organisations with a social impact etc; I realised how profound and useful his teachings are to this day!

Over the years, whenever I am faced with a situation that requires me to choose one task over the other, I have applied this framework time and time again. In this blog, I take the opportunity to explain the framework in brief and I hope that it helps you as much as it has helped me. Let’s take a quick look at each of the following and why one is ranked above the other:

  1. Country: in everything that you choose to do, the national interest of the country you live in must come first. What this basically means is, you must choose a career, job, function, or role that ultimately contributes (adds positive value) in some way (economic, social) or form to the nation that you belong to. You should not choose a career that goes against the national interest
  2. Work: this is the second most important sphere of your life. This is what defines who you are. This is what enables you to start a family and also be respected by society. Think about it. Will your own family respect you if you do not take whatever it is that you do seriously? It is not about how much you earn, but about the discipline and dedication with which you carry out whatever work that you undertake. It does not mean that you have to stick to the same job or career forever, but whatever it is that you are currently doing in your career, it must be done with utmost sincerity and dedication. Here is a picture that I drew a couple of years ago and decided that I want to be in the top-right quadrant

3. Family: after work and before society and self comes family. This sounds pretty straightforward, but the key thing to note is that family comes after work, as work is what will give you the means to provide for your family and also the respect that both you and your family deserve from society

4. Society: I use this term loosely to mean everyone other than your immediate family. This could mean close friends, cousins, distant relatives, work colleagues etc. Of course, all these groups are extremely valuable and form an important part of our lives, but the point that I am trying to make is that the above three spheres must take precedence (except self). As self comes last, this also means that if you have to choose between a private activity/task (something as simple as running an errand or choosing to spend some quiet time by yourself) vs attending an event of a friend, cousin, relative (no matter the effort required), the latter should take precedence

5. Self: Yes, this comes last! Of course, this is not to say that you keep putting off that important visit to a physician just because self comes last (because you need to be in great health to be able to carry out your duties and responsibilities to your country, work, family and society), but that you spend resources (time or money) on your personal wishes and desires after having fulfilled your responsibility on all of the above

I hope this framework provides a helpful perspective and helps you make decisions confidently.