Monday, June 09, 2014

Career or Comfort ?

Should I take up the new offer I have ? It’s offering over 50% rise and a larger responsibility. The industry is the same and the company which is a recent entrant is growing in leaps and bounds. I have been in my current company and role for over 4 years now and it has a great work-life balance. So moving to the new assignment would entail moving to a new city, unknown people, unknown culture, starting afresh building credibility and gaining acceptance from the team as well as peers which would take a year or so.

The CIO was past his mid-life crisis and leaning towards his sunset years with about a decade of active working life remaining based on generally accepted and regulatory definition of retirement age. He was doing well in his current company having spent a decent amount of time managing process, systems and expectations. He had been successful though not overtly so, but consistent in his ability to deliver to promise and keep progressing. He was been headhunted for the first time and was excited by the prospects of the new role.

He was also heavily into work-life balance and an example for some of us on keeping the balance tilted towards life more often than work. While his demeanor suggested a laid back person, he was effective in managing tasks, projects, budgets, suppliers and customers with ease. Financially stable and well off, he was not driven by monetary incentives nor materialistically inclined. Thus I was a little taken aback with his meanderings considering that he was of a sure mind and rarely hesitated or consulted anyone in such matters.

Challenging him to listen to his heart rather than the mind if they were in conflict, I asked him what caused the dilemma ? Was he unsure of the new organizations ability to succeed in the chosen industry or was it the comfort zone that caused the see-saw decision ? It’s not like that he had spent a lifetime in the current company; why was he feeling discomfort by the thought of change ? Continuous prodding finally brought out some interesting tenets for his inability to take a decision and it was not an easy one to solve.

Growth in current company would come over time; it was a profitable and stable entity where he had the freedom to operate. He knew the system and how it works; he had a good team and they delivered consistently. His family was well settled in the current city; wife working, kid entering last year before college, other kid getting to his first job in another city. He had just bought a house with a mortgage and done it up with a lot of care. Workplace being a stone’s throw, he enjoyed life to the fullest even after putting in the required work hours.

The new entity had expanded fast and planned high growth in an industry which had a lot of promise but not too many made money. There was a lot to do for the next couple of years and he would hopefully grow with the company. The new company had a frugal mindset and culture vis-à-vis his current one. Work-life balance would become a memory with pressures in the company, a new entrant in an industry requiring deep pockets. Success would come but require far more effort; comfort versus challenge !

Would you sacrifice work-life balance and family over career ? How do you prioritize and determine where you should focus ? At which life stage should life takes precedence over career or career over life ? When do you reach a point that you get off the treadmill ? Many have given up careers to pursue their hearts desire or become entrepreneurs on reaching financial goals; some remain hesitant with fear of the unknown. It is easy to stay in the comfort zone until life gives you a push to get out and start afresh.

I believe there is no right or wrong, no good or bad decision. The inflection point varied by individual; open a restaurant, write a book, teach at B-schools or colleges, the calling has varied for some of my friends. My recommendation to my friend was to take a few days off and introspect for the future and find what keeps him going every day. If you can dream it, you can also make it possible. I for one have been conscious of comfort zones as they give me discomfort. What would be your advice or what would you do ?

1 comment:

  1. Dear Arun, When your friend thinks of career, it is all about Me. When he thinks about family it is all about We. Therefore, my advice would be to choose family over career. It might be tempting to take 50 % rise and larger responsibility, but not at the expense of the family. Let me know what your friend decided. All the best! Kaushik