When I first began my career I thought salary and recognition were of the utmost importance. I often worked 8 – 10 hours a day in the office, sometimes failing to eat lunch. More often than not I arrived home, shoved down dinner, then went back to work until 1 or 2 in the morning.
But face a serious injury or illness, as I have, and suddenly you begin to recognize the power of time. The shorter you believe your time on earth may be, the more value you place on it. When I look up the food chain of my employer, I see many women in positions of leadership and power. Many of them have forgone ballet recitals and little league games in exchange for plushier offices and more money. Many employees live as I have. They try to schedule their lives around their work, rather than fitting work into their lives.
In a candid conversation my mother-in-law mentioned that she’d had a job for years but that she’d never had a career. What did a job provide that a career might not have: the flexibility of time. My mother-in-law works at a job only minutes from home. Without a commute she is able to spend more time at home in the morning and early evening. When her children were young and sick at school, she had the flexibility to leave work. And with such a short commute, she had the ability to pick them up in minutes.
Depending on your life goals, you may choose a smaller salary at a ‘family oriented company,’ over a larger salary at an employer with little flexibility. When you realize that time is a limited commodity you are forced to consider what is truly important to you. What are you willing to invest your valuable time doing? This introspection is both invigorating and liberating.