One of my heroes is Gandhi. One of my favorite quotes from Gandhi is “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” This quote speaks volumes to me. The tag line for my business of twenty-five years is “Inspiring Positive Change in Work, Life, and Family.” “Work, Life, and Family” kind of covers everything, don’t you think?! It’s quite ambitious, but it‘s exactly what I care about.
Work without family is empty. Life without work or family can be meaningless. And family, as important as it is, does not exist without work by someone in something. Speaking of “work,” do not think of work as only work outside the home for pay. To me, there are three important types of work.
The most commonly thought of definition of work is what can be called “Market Work, which is work for pay outside the home. In most families, at least up to the age of retirement, someone in the family is doing Market Work, and in many cases, both adults in the family (when there are two) are doing Market Work, full-time or part-time. It is Market Work that pays for the things needed and desired by those in the family. Thinking of “work” as only “Market Work,” however, is short sighted.
The second category of work is “Family Work.” In every family, there are things that need to get done for the family to function. Included in this are activities such as cooking, cleaning, and in many families, parenting. Family Work is every bit as important (and some would say, more important) as “Market Work,” regardless of who does it, and even though it isn’t usually financially compensated.
The third type of work in my philosophy of work is “Volunteer Work.” Volunteer Work includes community service such as charitable organizations, church work, and any other service work for which one isn’t financially compensated, such as PTA service. While it may not be common to think of Volunteer Work as “work,” when one thinks of it in this manner, it puts it at the same level of importance as “Market Work.” There are many in our communities who would not be served if there weren’t volunteers who give their time and talents to meet those needs.
While there are many possible examples of “Positive Change in Work, Life, and Family,” I will mention only one. Too often we compartmentalize our life, paying too much attention to one part of our life while ignoring the other parts. At times, this is normal and good. An example is when children are small, many families choose (when the choice is possible) for someone to be home doing full-time family work. Another example is in retirement, when Volunteer Work is a major priority for some people. These choices should not be judged good or bad if they meet the needs of the people involved, even when their choices or circumstances aren’t ours.
It is too easy, however, for us to remain in the places we have been, to fail to change when change is warranted, even when staying in place is no longer necessary or even good. For example, when children are of the ages that we do not need to be doing Family Work full-time, we lose something for ourselves when we fail to change. We also can create unhealthy dependency in the children, and possibly become “helicopter parents.” While our priority has been Family Work, it can now become Market Work, Volunteer Work, or a combination of the two or all three types of work. Thinking about work this way can broaden our opportunities and stimulate our minds.
If we fail to change as our circumstances change, we too often become less than we can otherwise be, and we can fail to fulfill our purpose.
What change do you want to see in the world? What will you change about yourself to be a part of it?