GMAT : Analysis of An Issue

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An Issue

67. Work greatly influences people's personal lives - their special interests, their leisure activities and even their appearance away from the workplace.


Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the opinion expressed above. Support your point of view with reasons and / or examples from your own experience, observations or reading.


The speaker claims that our jobs greatly influence our personal interests, recreational activities and even appearance. While I agree that the personal lives of some people are largely determined by their work, in my view it would be a mistake to draw this conclusion generally. In my observation, the extent to which occupation influences personal life depends on (1) the nature of the work and (2) how central the work is to one's sense of self.

On the one hand, consider my friends Steve and William. Steve works as a gardener, but after work he creates oil paintings of quality and poignancy. His leisure time is spent alternately at the sea, in the wilderness and in dark cafes. William paints houses for a living, but on his own time he collects fine art and books in first edition as well as reading voraciously in the area of American history. Their outside activities and appearance speak little about what Steve or William do for a living, because these men view their jobs as little more than a means of subsidizing the activities that manifest their true selves. At the same time, they have chosen jobs that need not spill over into their personal lives, so the nature of their jobs permits them to maintain a distinctive identity apart from their work.

On the other hand, consider my friend Shana-a business executive who lives and breathes her work. After work hours you can invariably find her at a restaurant or bar with colleagues, discussing work. Shana's ward-robe is primarily red-right off the dress-for-success page of a woman's magazine. For Shana, her job is clearly an expression of her self-concept. Also, by its nature it demands Shana's attention and time away from the workplace.

What has determined the influence of work on personal lives in these cases is the extent to which each person sees himself or herself in terms of work. Clearly, work is at the centre of Shana's life, but not of either Steve's or William's. My sample is small. Still common sense and intuition tell me that the influence of work on one's personal life depends both on the nature of the work and on the extent to which the work serves as a manifestation of one's self-concept.

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