Introduction The most important imperative is to understand the three different phases of one's career. This has to be understood from our real world and real life experiences. It may not be from any textbook on HR. For instance, the period of 21 to 30 years is the "settling down phase". The period of 31 to 40 years is the "growth phase". The period of 41 to 45 is the "consolidation phase". And the last stage between 46 to 60 is the "planning for the rest of life" stage. Yes, there will be some changes in any phase, but these are the four phases in the real world.
Between these phases, we can broadly divide the jobs that one gets into three broad categories. One is the "job of passion". The second is "job of compulsion". The third is the "job of circumstance". There are several families where the "jobs of passion" are common for both the man and his wife. These are inforced choices and since they have a passion, they are very happy. For example, teachers in good private schools or colleges or Government schools. The second category is very common. You can even find doctorates as Bank officers. This is the "job of compulsion". Sometimes, they are holed up in such jobs near their native places, and have other interests, like agriculture. Hence, they are least bothered about their careers, but more about money. That is fine, though.
The third category is also very unfortunate. This could find many people in slots where they are never happy, but given today's realities, are simply left with no choice. For example, a Mechanical engineer may be stuck in a maintenance role in a big refinery and for family reasons, would simply grow only in that company. If the wife is also a professional, the problem begins. Dual establishments are very common in such cases. Nevertheless, across the three phases, the Career Vs. Family Interest issues surface only in the first and third categories of jobs. The "jobs of passion" would also pertain to the NIT and IIT and IIM/ISB professionals, who would be raring to go. They are faced with massive issues when they turn 36 years or so.
In general, it is wise to a) Plan for careers with intrinsic potential on a Pan-India basis b) Give sufficient scope for the wife to express herself c) Have Plan A or Plan B or Plan C for children's interests d) Save money for risky ventures if you are so keen and e) Never have the herd mentality at any stage.
Plan for careers with intrinsic potential on a Pan-India basis Look for growth in new careers. For example, those from ISB or IIM can jolly well get into organized retail, where there is terrific scope for growth and massive challenges. Even those from the branded, non-IIM or ISB B schools, like the Great Lakes Institute of Mangement, can choose this career. However, if you chose Capital Markets, it has to only be Mumbai. If it is start-ups, you can find your feet in Mumbai, Chennai or Bangalore. If it is core manufacturing, particularly in the auto-component or the OEM sector, Chennai and Pune are the best. However, you also need to understand that careers are undergoing a transformation here too. Even non-MBAs, with rock solid experience, and just around 32 years of age, are now qualifying themselves for better jobs, after an Executive MBA degree. So, there is good competition. Across Organized retail and manufacturing, it is wise to stick to these three cities. That is, you just cannot or should not shift to other jobs in cities like Hyderabad. Those from the big branded institutes will corner all the big jobs. Yet, you can find the middle-management jobs and your wife can also be gainfully employed, as a teacher, or as a chartered or cost accountant or whatever, in the same city. CBSE schools will take care of the education of children. Note that the cities mentioned have superb CBSE schools.
Give sufficient scope for the wife to express herself This is extremely important. You cannot have the cake and eat it too. Nuclear families are in. They are too common. Parents on either side can help only for a few months. The relatively better off parents prefer the comfort of some old age home or the other, in cities like Coimbatore. They just cannot adjust to the dust and din of metro city life. Now, if she needs a break and would have to resign her private school teaching job, fine. Allow her to do that. When the child becomes eighteen months old, she can enroll for some good course and even take up some online teaching job for a change. Get her to do that. Allow her to express herself. If she wants to turn entrepreneur, play ball. Even in the smaller towns, new bakeries, medium-sized vegetarian hotels, textile shops and so on are run by women, who have the zeal and the fire in the belly. Doing so will also enable you to concentrate more on your job, as money will not be an issue.
Have Plan A or Plan B or Plan C for children's interestsImagine you are a bank officer. Your family circumstance dictates that you continue with all the challenges and stay put in the job. You are now based in Mysore, but you have just handed over a transfer order to pack up your bags and head to distant Patna. What should you do? Patna is not a great place to live. CBSE schools may be there, but the standards may not be good. The best choice is to be a married bachelor and fly down once in four months to be with your family. Take the overnight train to Kolkatta and then the flight to Mysore or Bangalore. You could even shift your family to Chennai or Hyderabad if you have your brothers or sisters or good friends in these cities. The logic of doing so is the "safety net" that would automatically come to your family in these cities. You need to list down all the alternatives and then decide. Remember, this is exactly what many married bachelors do. Or, if you are a senior executive with the Aditya Birla group and you are transferred to a remote location. The township is great, but the fact is that the schools are not so good. What do you do? The best alternative is to place your wife and children in the same place and keep under the care of your close relatives and friends. Keep in touch with them very often and fly down to your place as often as you can. If you are in a marketing job, you could possibly have the best of both worlds, as you might have to travel to your home city as well. Whatever be the nature of your job, all that you need to have is Plan A or Plan B or Plan C, for consideration and each of these have to be viewed in the particular context of what present situational variables will possibly influence your decision and Plan. Once done, stick to it. Do not allow your mind to wander. Similarly, entrusting the very small kids to the care of the servant maid is a very dangerous proposition. If yours is a gated community, you could bank on someone who is not employed to provide your children the basic care. They will be on their own, after the age of seven.
Save money for risky ventures if you are so keen This author recently met with a very senior executive who had worked in managerial ranks, both within India and abroad, with the prestigious IT organization, called TCS. He has just started his own outfit and plans to offer end-to-end solutions for customers. The trick is that he has a fairly good corpus that has been invested in good mutual funds and his working wife is game to his entrepreneurial idea. After years of slogging it out in the most tension-ridden situations, he is on his own and is very much excited about it. If you have the guts, go ahead with similar plans. Yes, the short term will be painful. But once you are into it, you can feel very safe. The children are already employed. So, this guy has got all the boxes ticked.
Never have the herd mentality at any stage This is one danger. You need to guard against the herd mentality. Just because your cousin has done it, you do not need to do it. Just because of your dearest friend has done it, you do not need to do it. You are unique and will have a particular set of challenges. So, whether you are going to quit your present job and take up the risk involved, it is your game. Or if you are going to be an entrepreneur, with even more risk, it is your game too. It is not the game of someone else. This is one lesson that should be very clear. In whatever you do, the balance between career and family issues needs to be maintained very well. All the very best.
ConclusionThe art of living is learned from practical experience. There is no need to go to any spiritual Guru. Life can teach us many lessons. This is exactly how it should be, at any point in time. Go ahead with your career plans, but balance your family interests in the best way possible. Some dimensions have been discussed above.
A very good article. Thanks to the author for his excellent tips to have a better balance between the career and family. Both are important. But one should not incline towards one aspect and ignore the other. But we see many people who will be inclined towards one of the two and ignore the other.
Don't bring your office problems to your house is the first rule to follow to have a balanced life. Many people, even after coming to the house, will be thinking about the job and they will be talking to others on phone about the job matters and they will never give company to the family members. It should not be the case. Make it a point not to bring in those matters home.
We will sometimes be under stress due to our work and may try to release that pressure by showing our anger on our family members. This is a very bad habit and can strain our relations. Forget family matters at home and forget office matters at home is the policy I follow. Of course, there will be exceptions in some emergencies.
Balancing career and family life is a challenging task and requires a lot of pondering and homework to achieve it. Today both the partners want to work not only for financial gains but also due to individual aspirations. In that scenario, many obstacles and problems arise and they alone will have to solve them to make a balance between career and family issues. Being a woman I will emphasise that most of the time the lady has to accommodate more as she is supposed to manage the house also in addition to pursuing her aspirations though it is supposed to be the responsibility of both to manage the show. Keeping two establishments is also a very inconvenient proposition and I will prefer to have small jobs in one place. We have to sacrifice something to gain something. We can not have the best of both the worlds.