I will never forget this other Sunday morning when I went to the nearest supermarket in my area. I met a colleague that we had worked together in government. He was with his daughter. She must have been around five years old.
From the blues, she looked at me and popped the question Ã¢â‚¬Ëœwho do you work for?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ I hesitated for a moment. The girl had not asked Ã¢â‚¬ËœwhereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ I worked but Ã¢â‚¬ËœwhoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ I worked for. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a question that seems to have an easy answer, but it gets complicated really quick and it gets into some interesting personal finance territory.Ã‚Â Koma munthu wamkulu ndinachita chibwibwi. Udotolo onse balala (I laboured to find an answer Ã¢â‚¬â€œ even my PhD could not help me find answers).
For most people, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also very easy to answer this question at first glance Ã¢â‚¬â€ itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s whoever your employer happens to be at the moment. I work for the United Nations. I work for Zain. I work for National Bank. But thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not really who we work for. Almost everyone has to exchange some of their time or some of their personal value for money. We make that exchange because we get something in return out of it. Among them is money. Money is the biggest thing that many of us work for. That money translates into a roof over our heads, food on the table and things we enjoy.
However, other people work for fulfilment. Some people are personally fulfilled by their work. Their jobs bring them personal joy and make their lives better. Writing is a huge creative outlet for me Ã¢â‚¬â€ most of the time, it leaves me feeling invigorated as a person. There are many others, though, that donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get this kind of fulfilment from what they do.
Others work for prestige of their jobs.Ã‚Â They like to be seen as prestigious by others and often that becomes a major factor in what they choose to do. Even when they get low paycheques, so long they work with that organisation, they are happy. They ask, Ã¢â‚¬Å“How will this job affect my image?Ã¢â‚¬Â
There are countless other reasons why we do the work we do.
In the end, you work for yourself. All the reasons above have one thing in common: you. Never, ever lose sight of the fact that youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re the one in control here. It is your choice.
You make the decision to work at your job because of a collection of positives and negatives that led you to believe that your current place is the right one for you. If another offer came along with a better balance, would you not take it?
Looking at your job through this lens brings some new things into focus. What are the things you value most in your life? For me, I value my wife and children the most, followed by personal fulfilment and also a desire to help/uplift others. Other issuesÃ¢â‚¬â€œpersonal prestige, and higher wages Ã¢â‚¬â€œ donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really mean that much in comparison to the big reasons.
What are the core things that are most important to you? Is your current career situation maximising those core things and minimising the negatives? If theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not, isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t that alone a good reason to switch?
Try this exercise. Consider the three most important things in your life. Your spouse? Your children? Your prestige in the community? Enough income so you can go for vacations? A flexible schedule? What are the most important things for you? Then list the positives and negatives of your current job in comparison to these things.
In the end, you work for yourself. That means you call the shots in the end. If thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a better opportunity for you out there, take it.