Friday, April 19, 2013

Q is for Quality of Life

This is a post that I believe I could not have written when I was a mere lad, starting out on my adult journey through life. There are some things that take time to appreciate fully and ‘quality’ is one of them. I have inferred a few times in my blogs that I have become disillusioned with the world of work. Sure – we need to work to pay the bills and put food on the table. But far too often I have seen this basic necessity taken to extremes, where the goal becomes the ‘work’ itself.

At its simplest level, it is the difference between ‘quantity’ and ‘quality’. Quantity is how much more money can I make, how much further I can climb up the corporate ladder, can I get that bigger car, and can I earn that bigger bonus. You could well argue that in order to achieve these material rewards, you have to deliver a ‘quality’ performance and to an extent that is true. But when I refer here to ‘quality’ I mean something that does not have mere material gain as its ultimate goal.

Quality of one of those nebulous things that mean something different to each individual. What might scream ‘quality’ to you may well mean something completely different to me. As a young college graduate emerging into the wider world, I soon got caught up in concerns like ‘how do I advance to the next level’? How do I get to earn more money? These were the yardsticks by which I (and many others, including my paymasters) defined success. Now, 30 years on, these things are of lesser concern to me. Yes, I still have a mortgage to pay and mouths other than my own to feed. But I have also learned that life is very short, very short indeed.

In the past few short years, I have witnessed too many friends and neighbours depart this mortal coil at premature ages. I’ll wager that if they were granted a few more years on this earth, they would have a very balanced view of quality of life. And it is a balance. I’m not one of those ‘rose tinted glasses’ people – constantly upbeat, see no downside. There are lots of challenges, setbacks and disappointments in life. But ultimately, all I can tell you with any certainty is what I have learned.

When it comes to ‘quality of life’, I have learned that it is about doing what makes you happy – really happy. And fair enough, if clambering up to the higher echelons of the corporate world really turns you on, then good on you. But I have learned that this is not for me. For me, quality of life is about time – time spent with family and friends, time spent in appreciating all that is around us, time spent in the pursuit of what makes me happy and those around me happy.

What does ‘quality of life’ mean for you? I’d love to hear your comments.

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