work-life balance

My boyfriend shared with me the article below, he knows this resonates with me.

I’ve always taken my youth as a privilege with a kiasu mindset that “whatever I can learn now, I have to“. Because of this, I think I have recklessly thrown myself into a lot of shit from which I can gain experience from, to the extent that sometimes I wonder if it’s me being sadistic?

Anyway, I have a set of beliefs which I have lived upon.

Because I’m so young,

– … I still can learn. Learning is much easier when one is young and has less expectation.
– … I can still make mistake, fall and bounce back.
– … I don’t need a lot of money.
– … I don’t have much of family commitments to worry about. Kids, house, car, kids schools, let’s think about all those later.
– … I can extend myself. Politics, long hours, crisis … I think I can handle it
– … I have time to train myself. I don’t intend to pick a shortcut and play any tricks to fast forward. I believe working and learning is the only way any youngster should be concerned about. For those who like shortcuts, this is for you.

All the beliefs above only come to a single-minded objective that I want to be damn good at what I’m doing.

This doesn’t mean that work-life balance shall be neglected though. I guess everyone has a different level of expectation on the life department. Some think life must be weekly hanging-outs with friends, clubbing and drinking until drop dead. Some take life as quiet time to simply enjoy a book. Some think that they work to have a life. Some others think that they live to work. So, I will say, it’s all in your mind, a balance and moderation of each and everything would be nice, but it’s your choice to prioritize.


Work-Life Balance My Foot

by Ben Leong

11 July 2013 at 02:38

It is a pity that I was not able to attend this year’s Commencement because I was away on business in China.

Just landed a couple of hours ago, but something that I read in the Straits Times on the plane really bothered me, and I mean *really* bothered me. The title of the article was “Undergrads’ top priority: Work-life balance”.

I am writing this note to you, my students who are graduating this year, as a final warning — in case some of your also subscribe to this grand notion that there’s more to life than work.

Actually, it is indeed true that there is more to life than work. However, if you should step out into the working world thinking seeking this thing called work-life balance then I fear you might be setting yourself up for a perilous future.

It is possible to achieve work-life balance. Many have done it.

But what many young people fail to understand is that it is privilege, and not an entitlement. In other words, you have to earn it. This is a mistake I hope you do not make.

And the way to earn it is to become so damn good at what you do that your boss has no choice but to tolerate your work-life balance — or for you to become your own boss.

I am not sure how to be more subtle, but none of you — yes, none of you, not even the First Class Honours — is currently so damn good that you are completely indispensible.

If you put in enough work and effort, then maybe, just maybe, in 10 years, you might find yourself in a position where you can actually have enough control over your work that you can have your “work-life balance”.

Another inconvenient truth of life is that age is rather unforgiving.

When I was young(er), I once worked 100 hours a week for almost two whole years — and frankly, it was quite okay. I complained yeah, but I could actually take it. Such are the benefits of youth.

Fast forward 10+ years, and I found myself teaching a summer course in Suzhou last week.

Unfortunately I did not manage to prepare well before I left for China and I ended up working probably 100 hours last week. Let’s just say that I don’t actually know how I survived last week.

You are now in the prime of your life. I have to admit that I’m rather envious. Really sucks to grow old I tell you.

While you may have graduated, keep in mind that this is only the beginning. There is probably good reason why they call it “Commencement” and not “Conclusion”.

The next 10 years of your life will be even more important than your last 4. The habits that you will be forming will dictate your future: Not kidding.

If you want to lead a reasonably secure life (and earn your right to work-life balance), the next 10 years is when you must really work at becoming good at something. Anything.

We are fast entering an era where those who do not develop marketable skills and competencies before they reach their 40’s will risk losing their jobs to those who are younger and hungier.

Some will bemoan that it’s age discrimination and clamour for the Government to do more. The reality is that very little can be done.

Let me explain the harsh truth about this “middle-aged squeeze”.

We live in a very hierarchical and seniority-based economy. It is “normal” for people to be promoted as they stay longer in their jobs, not necessarily because they are more competent or necessarily good at their work.

As people get promoted through the ranks based on seniority, Peter’s Principle eventually sets in and some people will lose their jobs.

Because there are fewer jobs available at middle and senior management levels, some will be forced to apply for “lower level” jobs — and many will be unsuccessful.

There are many reactions: shock, disbelief, bewilderment, and perhaps anger. They cannot understand why with their so-called “vast” experience, they are not even considered for these jobs.

The truth, while inconvenient, is however rather sobering: the line managers who are hiring for these jobs will likely be younger than the displaced middle-aged workers. It is sadly natural that most managers do not like managing people who are older than them.

Hiring decisions are almost always delegated to the line managers (as they should be), so there’s really no solution to this problem. No legislation can address this phenomenon.

My point to you: forget dunno what work-life balance for the next 10 years. Work like there’s no tomorrow and strive to become damn good at what you do. Please take advantage of your youth to master something and to develop good work habits.

Life is full of choices. The choices you make today will eventually determine the person that you will become in the future. Choose wisely and lead a good life. 🙂

To conclude, I will leave you with something I must have said a hundred times: “What doesn’t kill you, makes you strong”. 😛


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