If you want to understand work in the twenty-first century, then you need to understand Peter Drucker. He is considered the father of modern management, and he understood and analyzed "knowledge" workers long before the internet was invented. His seminal work gave rise to fields such as organizational effectiveness, strengths based psychology, and a whole host of other fields that have probably made your first world problems possible.
One of the most important observations that Peter Drucker established is that it takes more than a paycheck to satisfy a knowledge worker. We're nearing the end of an era where people work primarily to collect a paycheck, and have entered an era where people expect to find personal satisfaction from their work.
A bit of a tall order for a company to fulfill, don't you think? If you've built a company from the ground up, then your desire to see the company succeed will keep you going through a tough period. If you're directly responsible for saving people's lives, you might be motivated day in and day out for years, even in the absence of a paycheck (like my mother in law). But if your primary contribution is getting people to buy more from you than from your competitors, or finding the perfect shows to recommend to customers, or figuring out ways for Facebook or Apple or Amazon to make more money, you might enjoy your job. You might even enjoy working on complex problems with interesting people. But its difficult for me to believe that you or I could be very satisfied with our job for years and years and years.
Which is why I've come up with a unique solution to 21st career maladies that is not unique at all. Work really hard at your job, get your finances in order and quit. And while you don't have a job, try to create and add value to the world in ways that you couldn't when you had a full time job. And when your funds start to run low, start looking for a job again, where you can wholeheartedly direct your energy to solving problems for other people. Rinse and repeat.
This weekend, my husband and I finally completed some much anticipated home improvements. We installed the new flooring in my office. Like every other floor in our house, we are installed Pergo laminate which is a nice cross between nice looking and indestructible (both important to us).
As we ripped up the carpet, I noticed that the scent of mildew, dead skin, and old hair products overwhelmed the office. It was even worse than the other rooms in the house. And then there was the matter of removing the inexplicable tile (this was a bedroom after all) which was glued with a black mastic to our wooden sub floor. Not to mention the fact that eliminating the squeaks in the floor required my husband to remove most of the nails in the floor, and we also removed our baseboard which has revealed some significant wall gouges and mis-colorations.
By noon, the office was worse than when we first began. It was dirty, bare and ugly. It was utterly uninhabitable.
Personal finance is all about choices, and recently I had a conversation with some coworkers that made me realize that things that I consider obvious choices are anything but. So today, I am going to offer you the most important questions in personal finance, because they are all based on very realistic scenarios.
I grew up during the age of epidemic divorce. By the time I hit high school, divorce rates were so common that nearly one out of two of my classmates (who had parents married in the 80s) had divorced parents (this is not to mention the number of classmates who had never-married parents which was around 1 in 10 in my district). Broken promises and broken houses were the facts of my childhood.
My growing up years were squeezed between the end of the feminist movement and the beginning of the post-feminist movement (neither movement is one I like, but I'm very grateful for both of them). The promises of kids and the corner office were beginning to fall flat among the women who had missed out on their kids growing up years, but also had failed to develop a thriving career. On the other hand, the militant mamas (and their well meaning husbands) who insist on the economic valuation of their vocation as a stay at home mom were not yet popular.
Rather than succumbing to one trend or the other, or simply allowing me drift aimlessly trying to figure everything out on my own, my parents made the decision to teach me how to value people (especially children), relationships (especially marriage), and commitments more highly than money.
They made sure that I understood that I had choices. They helped me to understand that I could have all the business acumen in the world and still decide to stay home. They made sure that I didn't view staying at home with children as a consolation prize for unintelligent women. And they taught me that if I got married (which I did), that I was entering a team, and not both teammates had to make money. And most of all, they taught me not to fear making these choices. Our culture already values the corner office and wealth- my parents taught me that wasn't the only life of value.
I so wish that other women knew that they have choices. I wish I could shout it from the rooftops.
In my daily life, I see women struggling to express what they want in a relationship because they fear divorce. I see women painfully putting off having children because they fear the economic timing isn't right for their family. I see so many women who are trapped in their six figure jobs because they fear that stepping away from it means choosing a less valuable life (economically speaking, they are correct).
But when money stops being our primary value, then we are set free from the bondage of fear, and we can really start to live. And I see that this practically plays out (in a mostly good way) in my life.
I'm a wife, a mom, an employee, and a personal finance nerd who is devoted to spreadsheeting my way through life.