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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When a job takes away your life

Words by Francis Kahihu (the author is an Organisational Development Practitioner)

When Paul requested Andrew for a coffee date, it was clear in Andrew’s mind that Paul must have been going through some kind of psychosocial challenges. The tone with which he talked on phone was indicative of a friend experiencing difficult times. Andrew scheduled for the meeting the following week to the delight of his friend. True to his expectations, Paul was a man under pressure. ‘My job has taken away my life’ he told Andrew. The rest of the story is left to my narration.

Since Andrew got employed at the company, he had come to love his job. With great diligence and commitment, he served the clients and this led to his quick upward mobility. He moved from an officer position to a senior manager’s position within a period of 2 years. The promotions however came with their bit of challenges. Due to the tight deadlines and the ever increasing portfolios, Paul would work till late in the night. Leaving the office past 9pm was the norm rather than the exception. Severally, he had to report to work over the weekends and on public holidays as he had to keep the processes in motion.

By the time he called his friend Andrew for a chat, he had for sure endured the pressure to the brim. At this point, he realized that with all certainty, his job had taken away his life. He rarely had time to interact with his wife and children as he left for work long before they woke up and returned home a fatigued man unable to engage in any active activities with his family. He was for sure giving the rest of the world his best time and energies and providing his family and friends with his life’s crumbs. This was a cause for worry for him.

And Paul is not alone in this experience. I have interacted with many workers who are going through the motions of work with a biting feeling that their lives have been hijacked by the jobs they liked at first. The demands at work always push people beyond their initially imagined limits hence robbing the workers of their time and space. With higher targets being set every year and the expansion of both geographical coverage and types of products, employees are being pushed to the wall as they have to deliver the expected results failure to which they risk losing their jobs.

The challenge however has been on what to do when an employee finds himself in such a state, a state where he likes the job yet the job seems to be taking his own life away from him. These are the moments when an employee needs to re-engage with his values and motivation for work. Whoever had developed the criteria that had a day divided into three 8-hour blocks, 8 hours for sleep, 8 hours for work and 8 hours for socialization had considered the best balance for life. Whenever someone’s job eats into the sleep and socialization territories, there is need for an evaluation of whether the job is either building or destroying the staff’s life.

Successful individuals are those persons who manage to excel in all the three key spheres. They do well at work, are good with their social lives and find adequate time to relax and reenergize their systems.

Q and A: I completed form 4 last year and had performed well in my subjects of interest. My parents however have informed me that they have consulted and are planning to have me enrolled for a course that least interests me. Should I keep quiet and let the ball roll or should I confront them and tell them point blank that I am not interested in ‘their’ course?

A: This remains as one of the key challenges that young people and their parents face with regard to career choice. Parents tend to suggest what they consider the best choice for their children with little or no consultation with their sons and daughters. Many young people have kept quiet when confronted with similar situations and have lived to regret their silence. I would advise that you consider a chat with your parents for an appreciation of their reasons for their choice. It could actually turn out to be your best bet in life especially if you are not fully convinced as to why you want to pursue the course you consider appropriate.

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