What’s More Important in Life: Work or Family?

What is most important in life?

If you’re like many angel investors we interviewed, you’ll answer: family. Joanne Wilson’s greatest accomplishment is her children. “Hardest job ever is being a parent,” she said. Glen Hellman said, “I’m most proud of having a family that love and respect each other.”

If most of us would answer “family,” why do we spend so much time, energy, and stress at work? And what about entrepreneurs, who add their blood, sweat, and tears into the mix? After a certain point, money doesn’t really buy happiness, so that can’t be it.

The only answer I can imagine is that spending time with family somehow encompasses work life as well. Here’s how.

While work may not define us, it does shape us. Spend 40 grueling hours a week at a mind-numbing job, and it won’t help foster your creativity and independent thinking – or your happiness. Spend 60 hours a week brainstorming new ideas, contemplating the future, and challenging your mind, and it’ll have the opposite effect.

As guest author Joel Cascoigne wrote, you should work harder on yourself than you do on your startup. You will learn lessons that carry over into other ventures, he said. I would add that those lessons carry over into your personal life, as well: lessons like patience, perseverance, and humility. With all this personal growth comes a boost in self-esteem and a feeling that you can tackle life’s challenges, not just the business ones.

When you spend time with family, you’re offering them your new-and-improved self. You might tell crazier bedtime stories, because you’ve been dreaming up creative ideas all week. You might be more patient with your wife when she forgets to pay a bill, because you’re teaching your team to embrace failure. You might be more loving and appreciative of your husband, because you’re learning to see opportunities rather than obstacles in the world.

When people say family is most important, it doesn’t have to mean work is less important. It can just mean: work has helped make me who I am, and I enjoy sharing that with the ones I love.

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Written by:
Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.
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