“Your loved ones are unhappy. Do you know about it?”
A friend of mine did the Unthinkable.
In other words, he committed a career hara-kiri.
John had all the good things in life, that everybody aspires for. He had a high profile consulting job which took him across the globe. He stayed in plush hotels, traveled business class and rubbed shoulders with hotshot CEOs across the world.
He was rolling in money, prestige and a never-ending fame which seemed to grow exponentially after every successful assignment. He could not have asked for more!
Then one day, he left everything and settled for a position at a local bank at a lesser salary!!
“John, have you gone mad? You have just committed the worst career hara-kiri, I have ever seen. You have moved several steps backward in your lustrous career.”, I said, unable to hide my disdain.
His answer surprised me.
“Sometimes, you need to move a step backward in career to move several steps forward in life. I just did that and I have no regrets.”
Intrigued, I waited for him to explain-: –
I was Living out of a Suitcase
My life became one long, never-ending travelogue and I started spending more time at airports, than at home.
Initially, the excitement kept me going. I loved the travel to exotic locales, the plush hotels, the chauffeur-driven cars and the adulterating fame that came along with it. But gradually the excitement weaned off.
I realized the futility of the whole exercise. I was perpetually lonely out here and my family was perpetually lonely out there without me.
I was attempting to bridge the chasm by using money, which was never a good idea. My family needs my physical presence and money cannot replace that.
I Remembered my Client’s dinner but forgot my child’s birthday.
This was perhaps, one of the worst episodes of my life. I remembered my each and every client’s engagement. I marked them religiously on my calendar and made it a point to attend them without fail. In fact, I even used to prepare suitable pitches for the get-together, all aimed to glean new business.
But in the whole process, I forgot my child’s birthday. He slept away, waiting for his daddy to come and say “Happy birthday, sweetheart. “
I tried to cover up my guilt by gifting him the world, but the pain never really went away. The pain kept on throbbing me again and again like a needle.
My Wife Started Covering up, for my Absence
My wife supports and understands me. But I took her “understanding” too much for granted.
“Your son is participating in the annual sports meet. Request your presence to cheer him up.”
“I am sorry; John is out of town. I will surely come.” My wife will say.
“Your son is getting felicitated for excellent grades. Request your presence at the function.”
“I am sorry; John is busy in client meetings. I will surely come. “my wife will say.
“We are having a weekend get-together at the farm. Request your presence.”
“I am sorry, John is working this weekend, I will surely come.” My wife will say yet again.
The thing that troubled me about this whole “covering” business was that my family and friends, by default started assuming that I will not be available.
They began to learn, to live their life without me. I slowly started becoming a non-entity in their lives. I felt, even more, lonelier than before.
My Weekends became Informal Office Extensions
I wanted MORE and MORE and MORE. But “working” time was limited to 5 days. So I started bringing work on weekends. The weekends gave me “two extra days” to finish my deadlines.
The “library” at my house became my de facto office and “kids” were strictly told not to come anywhere near it.
Other Dads will be playing with their own kids and my kids will be playing with “Other’s Dads.”That hurt me real bad !!!
My Social life was only Limited to the Virtual World
I have 100 K followers on Facebook,20 K in Instagram,50 K in Pinterest and so on. I am also on the boards of several organizations and keynote speaker for several institutions. My time was packed end to end.
But I lost all real friends in the process. I had no time in the real world to maintain my relationships and appreciate gratitude towards my near and dear.
My life was hollow like an air balloon, which when pricked releases nothing more than emptiness.
My Emails and Phone became the Most Important things in Life
My emails became an integral part of my corporate “power” games. My response time gradually came down to 2 minutes and I became a ninja in monitoring every email round the clock.
Everybody used to send me emails at odd hours and I used to answer those emails within the same odd hours. Call me at any time. I am always available.
I won appreciations and accolades due to my “commitment” and “efficiency” in office and I lost miserably at home due to my “apathy” and “uncaring” towards my loved ones.
My Sex Life goes Kaput.
Sex is supposed to release stress and make you happy, but somehow it became a non-entity for me. The few times, we had sex, my mind was always on the overdrive thinking “Let me finish this chore and get back to work.”.
Presentations and excel charts preyed on my mind. My performance decreased and soon sex became an avoidable act altogether. We gradually drifted away from each other and became total strangers in our most intimate moments.
The One Lesson I learned
I met John again earlier this year. He had just come back from a long family vacation. He looked changed, rejuvenated and very happy. I once again saw the same old “John”, as he was in his college days; jovial, witty and a great person to hang out with.
In a bid to survive and win this rat-race, we forget to enjoy the things that matter the most. In our deathbed, we will neither have our virtual followers nor we will have our clients to support us.
The only people who will be around us, through thick and thin will be our loved ones. Let us appreciate them and spend some quality time, with people that matter the most — our friends and family.
you can achieve all the things you want to do, but it’s much better to do it with loved ones around you; family and friends, people that you care about that can help you on the way and can celebrate you, and you can enjoy the journey. — John Lasseter
About the author-:
Ravi Rajan is a global IT program manager based out of Mumbai, India. He is also an avid blogger, Haiku poetry writer, archaeology enthusiast and history maniac. Connect with Ravi on LinkedIn, Medium and Twitter.