One of these days during lunch at office, we had a fairly heated discussion about why people work. One guy and I were of the opinion that the primary reason people work is for money, and everything else is secondary. The third guy, who among the three of us perhaps works the hardest, argued that “people who make a difference” never work for money, and that it is only “ordinary people”, who have no desire to “make a difference” that work for money. He took the examples of people like Steve Jobs and a few famous scientists to make his point.
Now, while I agree that money is the primary reason I work, and which is what I argued that day during lunch, I disagree that the end-of-month salary credit tells the whole story. The way I see it, you need to take a longer-term view of things. So while the short-term money you make is important, and affects important decisions such as quality of short-term life, a more important thing is sustainable returns. While you do your work and get that end-of-month salary credit to bolster your bank account, an important thing is about how much the work you’re doing now will contribute to your income later on in life.
Digression 1: I keep oscillating between wanting to retire at forty and wanting to retire at sixty. And I must admit I haven’t frankly decided which one is more suitable for me. This analysis is more relevant with the retirement at sixty model (which is what I think I’ll end up following, health etc permitting). End of Digression 1.
Digression 2: Not so long ago, some people in my firm wanted to recruit “software engineers from IIT with two to three years of work experience”. Being one of the “CS guys” around, I interviewed quite a few people for that role. Their CVs indicated that had we “caught them” on campus, they would have been sure hires. But two years at a software services shop, I figured in all cases, had made them “rusty”. Spending all their time in mind-numbing activities (like building UIs), they had failed to build on the skills that would have been useful for the higher-up-the-value-chain job I was recruiting for (finally that team went to IITs and got a bunch of campus hires. They gave up on lateral hiring altogether). End of Digression 2.
Those two digressions weren’t particularly meaningless. I guess you know where this post is headed now. So, the thing with a job is that along with the short-term benefits it provides, it should also help you build on those skills that you think you can monetize later on in life. Every job (most jobs, really) teach you something. There is constant learning everywhere. But what matters is if the learning that the job offers is aligned with the kind of learning that you think you are geared for, which you think you can monetize at a later point of time in life.
I still claim that I work for money, but just that I take a longer-term view of it. And I strive to learn those things on a job which I think will be helpful for me in terms of monetization at a later point of time in my life.