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On My Mind: Your money or your life

"How much money is needed in order for you to consider the job?" This was a question someone asked me recently.

My supervisor wanted to retire and to leave as soon as a successor was found. His position was advertised. Some colleagues thought I would be interested in applying for the position which I didn't. So people asked me about it wondering why I was not interested.

When I was asked this question, my immediate response was: "No amount of money will do it."

And I meant it.

Being a director of an office means a lot of responsibilities and requires a lot of skills. You are responsible for everything, big and small, from budgeting to managing, from hiring to performance review. You go from meetings to meetings.

Not only do you have to be good at your special field, but you also have to be good as a politician and diplomat. You need to have good relationships with people above you and people below you.

Being a director also means a lot of troubles and stress. You probably have to deal with managers who don't understand what you do and don't value your work, therefore you have to constantly justify your existence.

In any organization, there are usually some difficult people. You have to deal with difficult people who are adults but might behave like children. What are you going to do with these difficult people? You are the boss, but your authority is limited, by laws, policies, politics or rules. You can't do whatever you want even when it's good and appropriate.

I certainly don't need more troubles and stress in my life. I prefer to have less troubles and stress than to have more money and power.

Money is something people always want more of. No matter how much money you make, you always want some more. Someone who makes $10 wants more, and someone who makes $10 million still wants more. It seems never enough.

At some point I have to make the decision as to what's more important for me, more money or more stress, doing something I don't like or doing something I like. This is an easy choice for me.

I don't want to put jobs above everything else in life. I want to work enough to get a life. I don't want my mind be cluttered with work problems. I want some time and energy left for other things in life.

At this stage of my life, I still have children at home to take care of. Raising kids means a lot of responsibilities. It also requires time and energy. I can't stretch myself too thin.

I had a stressful job a few years ago in Chicago.

My job working in a law firm was so stressful that it started to cause me physical problems. If I had continued with that kind of job and stress, I most likely would have had a heart attack by now. I don't want to experience those stress and physical problems again.

There are also many things outside of work that I enjoy doing. I enjoy writing this column which takes time and effort. I enjoy reading. And I like gardening, too.

In the last few months I have been involved in the founding of the new Chinese school in Woodbury -- Minnesota Jinglun Chinese School. A group of like-minded people got together and worked hard to get the new school going. On Sept. 15, the school welcomed about 70 students for the first day's classes.

Many times, I worked past midnight doing research or writing for the Chinese school.

All board members are working hard. We are not paid for doing it. But that doesn't matter. It's not money that motivates us to do certain things in life. We want to do it because it's good for the community.

Do you live to work or do you work to live? Everyone has to answer this question. Even if you don't consciously think about it and make a decision, your action can still tell.

So what's your answer to this question?