Thursday, 12 April 2007

Prioritise life

On first day I returned to work after my compassionate leave, there were many people who came to talk to me and asked me how I was doing, so kind of them. One conversation that hit me was…

“Hey, how are you?”
“I guess I am ok, thanks.”
“Well, suddenly everything else is no longer a priority huh?”
“Yeah, I think you’re right.”

Priority… what is priority? What is your priority? Is work, your priority?

Not too long ago, I’ve talked about how we employees are all nothing but slaves in the modern society. And it’s ironic, many of us are just so willing to enslave ourselves in this deadly system. Honestly speaking, how many us have told ourselves countless times that we should leave the rat race?

But let’s face the fact… we can't. We have gotten ourselves too deep into race, so much so that it is close to impossible to leave it. I mean, who is going to pay for the bills? And your car instalment… and to some, your house instalment. Indeed, we can't leave the rat race, we have to work. Even if you don’t have a car and a house, you will also need to feed yourself, to survive.

But what lies in our struggle to survive, is the hidden trap of letting work run our lives… letting work become the priority in our lives. When that happens, work supersedes everything else. What’s worse, we work so hard thinking that our lives will be better in the future, not knowing that work has already begun to wreck it. Many perceive that health is the cost in our search for wealth. That is true. But, health is not the only thing we will lose. We will lose so much more, we just don’t realise it.
So often I have let work take centre stage. It has cost me quite a lot. Did my health deteriorate? Well, my hair did drop quite a bit, my tummy did receive enough fertiliser from those late nights at the mamak before heading back to work. But generally, I think my health was and is still very much in control. But I lost so much more. When work was my priority, everything else was secondary. And those secondary things slowly but surely, departed from me, and I will never be able to recover those things anymore.

We are made to believe that when we finally make it in our career, we can then focus on enjoying life. The typical Chinese saying of…”when you’re rich, you’re gonna have all the girls (or guys) you can get, you’re gonna be able to buy your dream car, dream house”. Honestly speaking, that is true. I couldn’t agree more.

I don’t come from a rich family. I have always needed to share room with my brother. My mom told me that if I worked hard and able to buy my own place, I will be able to have my own room. But you know what? I will never be able to know how it feels to have my own room when I am say… 10 years old. I will never be able to know how it feels like to have a computer in my own room while I was a teenager.

Similarly, you may be able to buy your dream car and dream house when you make it in life, but you will never be able to know how it feels to have a decent car and a decent house at a younger age. Indeed, if we don’t work hard, we will never be able to get our dream car and dream house and dream girl (or guy). But how sure are you that by working hard, you will get be rewarded accordingly? Those who have been in the working world long enough will testify that not everyone is rewarded accordingly.

You may be showered with the magical word… “sacrifice”, that if you don’t sacrifice, you will never be rewarded. 3 questions you should ask yourself… 1) Are your sacrifices worth it?... 2) Are you sure… very sure your sacrifices will pay off?… 3) When will your sacrifices pay off?

I think I have deviated a little, because what I am trying to say is that we should never make work the priority in our lives. There are so many other more important things that should take precedent. It took my mom’s death to finally made me realised that. That conversation with my colleague made quite a big difference… indeed, suddenly, everything else is no longer a priority.

Have you ever been asked to prioritise your work in order to meet deadlines? But did you ask yourself… is work a priority to begin with?

Have you ever missed anything, perhaps a friend’s wedding, or someone’s birthday due to “work commitment”? Well… should work be a commitment?

In a book titled “First Thing First”, the very first sentence in that book reads something like…

“No man at his dying bed wishes he had spent a minute more at work”

How many hours have you spent at work when you should have done something else?

I’ve realised that I should live life by living, not working. Perhaps you should too.

49 comments:

TTL! said...

im still a student, but so far ive never sacrificed any time for studies =D i feel proud of myself

Jazzi said...

Have always held the firm belief that work comes 2nd to everything. Perhaps that's why I'm not thriving as well as I would like to in my course, but..meh..who cares.

Welcome to the other side Zewt =).

Celestina said...

Yeah, applying the same principle to studies...is it really worth all the sacrifices? Haha...only one way to find out. I guess working is really different huh. I can wait to find out... ;)

Andrew Ho said...

I see u sure become very geng blogger one, u link me up I feature u......

Andrew Ho said...

k lah, i took ur survey, and in return, I will divert some of ur readers to my blog. This is what cheap people like me can do to get attention......


Hey everybody, Zewt reads my blog!


Trust me, it works.....

angel said...

You know, at one point of time, I believe most of us will come to realise what you've said today :) I'm lucky that I came to this realisation a few years after I started working, before I lose anything... Darn, I used to 'slave' for work (read, no life) but now, no more ;)

YATTTAAA!! :P

Anonymous said...

mate,

u made me feel like i wanna leave u know where and then head towards what i wanted to do for the year....lol* yes....i think guys always placed career first anyways....other things just dont matter at that time....

Kata Tak Nak said...

To me work is part of life, not life part of work. Yes I do work hard, take work home, and try to do the best but I'd put it off in a giffy when it concerns family.
I've told my bosses that nothing is more important than my family. Yes, I can see that they don't like it but I don't give a damn.

I remember having to send my wife for some test at the GH and calling the boss saying that I would be a little late and the bastard expressed his displeasure to which I expressed mine. Why am I able to do this? Coz I know I clock more working hours than him, do more work than him, solve more problems than him and the works. So when it comes to my family welfare don't mess with me.
Yes, work is important but family is everything.

Cirnelle said...

Here's an alternative, if anyone not quite "Asianised" enough has the balls to try:

Work these next few years (say 2 years - just so the goal seem quite within reach) just to save up money - don't spend it unnecessary, just save it for these two years. Then, take a year off work - quit, take sabatical... whatever it takes. In that one year, do whatever it is you have always wanted to do. You want to visit another country? Do it. Go pluck apples at some orchard and live in a farm. Use this one year to get back in touch with your family members or your inner soul, whatever it is that you think working has sucked you from. I'm not saying that it necessarily needs to be a holiday, but merely, this one year will be your LIVING the life you have not dared to live because you have customarily been Asian-programmed that without the pursuit of money, there will be no happiness.

Try that. Then, at the end of that year, evaluate whether you've lived the life that prioritised what you deem to be living... or whether the masses have been right in driving 3 hours a day in semi-stationery cars to work in a cubical, staring at a screen for the next 35 years. Which is more worth it? And don't answer that by just peering over the fence thinking the other side is greener, you have to open the gates and step over, even if it is just for a year.

nyonyapenang said...

i'd like to work to live and Not live to work.
have a nice day! :)

PurpLe~MuShRooM said...

We have to admit that this is life. Everybody works. If you think too much of whether it's worth working or doing so much, then anything you do will mean nothing, because you only focus too much on the results.

It's right, we should never make work the priority in our lives. But when it comes to things that need to be done, sometimes, our sense of responsibility takes over. We need to get this and that done before the deadline. And subconciously, we may take others in our lives for granted. But then again, we cannot always leave work aside because someone has the priority in our lives.

I think it's all about balancing work and life. But this phrase is always easier said than done.

Huei said...

i hate work..i hated studies!
it's never a priority..just..a compulsary thing that we have to go through, a routine!

heheh

lilia said...

"I’ve realised that I should live life by living, not working.."

I couldnt agree more!

But lets face the fact of life - working is indeed part of living. and i guess thats when the word 'prioritise' comes into the whole picture hah.

Winn said...

i used to spend a lot of time at work. one time i was so sad that becoz of that stupid job i cant even pick up my dad from the airport, cant even spend dinner time with hiim. so i quit!

Big Rice said...

work is but a means to an end...

i know what you mean.. working hard does not equate putting everything else on hold & having to sacrifice relationships, health, life...

We can still work hard, but it is important to clearly define what it is & when to draw the line.

It's to do with the insecurities of life esp when most ppl think that their selfworth are being defined by how hard they work.

Nowadays, i try to make relationships my priority instead. Unless time clashes, otherwise, i hope not to let work consume me.

^_^ 1 cent worth comments.

Economist said...

He wisely counsels that anything that happens to your finances is secondary to the important things in life – picking a suitable and compatible mate, developing a relationship with your children, and doing something that you enjoy.

- Jeremy Siegel on Warren Buffett

Enough said.......

Calvin's Wife said...

work to live, not live to work... :P

zewt said...

TTL - hahaha.... dunno to say whether that's good or not good. one thing though... as long as you're ok with it... then i am sure it's fine.

Jazzi - it's good to be on the other side. but there are ppl who feels that being on the other side breeds laziness.

celestina - well... read my post on 'lifestyle of the smart and not so smart'. perhaps it will give you a thinker... :)

Andrew Ho - i read your blog? haha! maybe if you feature me and i will consider linking you.

angel - yeah, but many a times... when we finally realise that... it's often too late. let us all be slave NO MORE!

Anonymous - stop commenting as anonymous la... your name very difficult to hear meh? cannot see light ah? hahahaha... well, just do it la!... leave you-know-where i mean.

zewt said...

Kata Tak Nak - first, i am glad you said 'tak nak' to that fella. yeah, like what cirnelle said, we asians are made to think that we are nothing but cheap labours. family is and will always be everything. of cos, there's an argument that said working will keep the family going... but will your family be there when you're done with working?

cirnelle - very very very very good point and i was actually thinking about blogging about this one. read a story lately about someone who just dump her job and took up something somewhere else. should i blog about it? should should i?

indeed... dont just say that it's greener... we should make a step towards it... at least a step.

nyonypenang - responsibility and sacrifice are 3 words that should be re-defined. so often, the employers, the system use these 2 words on their employees and make the employees feel like shit in order to plough profit for the employers. if we are not careful... we will all be tricked!

huei -that's the spirit! hahahaha... like i said... life begins after work!

lilia - yeah, the focus is priority... we must know what to priority... facts of life said we should live... not work.

winn - WELL DONE!!!!!

big rice - i am glad you're now concentrating relationships. yeah, human touch is the most important element of everything... not just making loads of money not knowing in the end whether we will be able to enjoy it... if we ever make enough.

economist - thanks for an insightly quote... enough said.

calvin's wife - sounds like tukar from the eat anology eh?

Jessica said...

Thank God work hasn't taken over my life yet but the effect of not staying late has put it's toll on my appraisal, but who cares, as long as I'm given a decent pay and I still have a job eh?

You should print this and put this at every level's notice board. Let all the managers read this. They should read it, go back and think about it.

Cirnelle said...

Its your blog, Zewt. Do what you will with it - you'll be sure there's a ready audience.

Someone who is constantly craving said...

its a never ending cycle..money is nvr enough..and the only way to earn more is to work..if not people also like to compare..u drive bmw, i must drive merc..= work more...worse still those who are born rich..vs those who are not rich..you get jealous and try every method to bcome like them..=work more..hahahah

rinnah said...

*sigh* I too wish that I could spend less time at work. I am in the office an average of 11 hours a day (the bare minimum) and simply hate it.

Work is not my priority - life is. But I need to work in order to continue to live, so I am stuck in this job for now.

SuLee said...

you work hard and at the same time you play hard too, i ve seen it, no matter how close the deadline is? ppls leave right at 5pm! to train urself to - once u step out of ur office, u leave everything inside and go home to spend time with your family. thats quality life. u dont need all the money in the world...

Anak Merdeka said...

I've always thought that this sort of "enlightenment" hits you the first time you held your baby in your arms. :-) Well, what can I say? Congrats Zewt, you'd likely make a great husband and daddy when the day comes!! (And a better son, brother, cousin, friend, blah blah blah in the meantime, heheh!)

Big Rice said...

This might interest some of you, in relevance to this post:
http://www.washingt onpost.com/ wp-dyn/content/ article/2007/ 04/04/AR200704\
0401721.html

Are we really that busy to notice...?

celestina said...

Haha, yeah I read that and it made me feel not so bad about missing out my chance to further my studies in the UK or US or *insert some prestigious country*...

thanks for taking the time to reply to all the comments, makes me enjoy ur blog more
:)

zewt said...

purple mushroom - oppps... i think i missed out on replying you earlier. deadlines... the dreaded word. i think the sickening thing is that emloyers are wielding the sword while employees are not united enough to make a stand. indeed, prioritising other things ahead of work is not something easy to do... it takes a lot. i think it takes a life changing experience to do that.

jessica - talking about staying back... i am also gonna talk about this. damn... i think i am going on a series about working life. oh... print and put in all the notice board? wahh... u want me to get sacked issit?

cirnelle - very well... i shall go on a 'working life' series.

someone who is constantly craving - yeah, and i think it's a asian culture to think such. it's not that apparent in western culture. and they are supposedly better off than us. by the way, according to the bible... having to labour the whole life is a curse.

rinnah - Hmmm… are you working in a big 4?

sulee - leaving sharp at 5pm is not possible in the Malaysian working culture. I am sure you know what I mean. It’s something I am going to blog about really soon. Will be an interesting topic I am sure. p/s: we all don’t work in Canada unlike some ppl ler…

anak merdeka - Hahaha, thanks for the compliment. I will certainly try my best to fulfil those words. But I am sure it will not be easy. But as long as I remember what I wrote today, I should know what is the right thing to do.

big rice - i dont seem to be able to access that page. any other way to access it?

celestina - well, that's the very least i can do to make reading my entries more interesting.

Maxforce said...

"Insanity is doing the same thing, expecting different results" - Anonymous, or at least I couldnt remember who :P

If you truly want to get out of the rat race, then do something different. It may work, or it may not work,

but as Yoda say,
"Do or do not, there is no try"

Cheers!

PS: Thanks for the concerns. Surgery went well. But I m still under medication. Drowsy and weak but still found time to post comment in your blog! :)

wahlau said...

great thought. at least good to be reminded from time to time...

Seok Thong said...

Actually i did what sulee said there. Leave at 5pm sharp everyday. For me, it's possible. But before, i worked like a mad dog in the same company, like at least 11 hours but no rewards geh, no OT, no kind words.

After a while i feel really sick already, start at 8am sharp and leave at 5pm sharp too. If they want me to work more, must pay OT. No OT no talk. I work only for money. Of course, that day's work itself must be finished on time. So, everyday 5pm sharp i'll cabut quitely. Hehe!

But i realize one thing, for me work hard and work normal in that company is the same. I was still poor. So, better work normal lah, save some energy to enjoy the night.

All the best to all of you!

TTL! said...

definitely a good thing. skipping class tomorrow for cameron.

it might seem like a bad thing to do at first glance, but think about the good times you spend with your family. =)

Anon. Fm Miri said...

ha ha.....
I’ve realised that I should live life by living, not working. Perhaps you should too.

I'm doing tat.

Adios

Big Rice said...

ok, try this link...
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html

ahjohn said...

hmmm, if we have a MPL (malaysia premier league) just as good as the EPL (english premier league), we could play and get paid.

but in malaysia, the only way to get paid without working is to work for the government, cause they are hell of a ball shaker.

mich said...

wah, zewt, so "zen" post ler :P
read a lot of sensible comments around here. And I feel echo most on those who propose balancing, moderation view on work and life. Work is a part of life, but not whole part of it. Apart of supplying you the money or bread you need, it could be a source of satisfaction as well. Another point i deeply felt (as some point out as well) is that don't start making comparison with others, it is a desire of endless blackhole and drawing you to nowhere. Then you will not be slave but rather you be the decider (and God too) of your life...

baby sa said...

working or studying...
both have their difficulties.
what we can do is learn how to leave everything behind and lay back :)
then listen to lounge music~~~
hmmm....good idea eh...hehe

Jermayne said...

Hi Zewt,

"But how sure are you that by working hard, you will get be rewarded accordingly? Those who have been in the working world long enough will testify that not everyone is rewarded accordingly."
Well well, 10 months ago the naive me will tell you 'Yes!! Sure will get rewarded one if work hard'
But 10 months later, Ahhh...how true.

I always beleive work is not synonymous to life. There has to be more to life than clocking in daily at 9-5. 9-5 is just a subset of life.

I recently attended an Effective Time Management course sponsored by company, and had learnt priceless lessons from there.
The salient point is - the well being of an individual depends very much on what he/she does from 5-9 and instead of 9-5.

I have since tried various ways to make my life livelier, better, healthier...and of course, continue to 'value-add' myself with knowledge/skills which will propel me to go further in my career. (which i am very unsatisfied with currently)

Ahhh, There's gotta be more to life!!=)

mh said...

likewise i took a slap in my face a couple of years ago to realise that work and qualifications may not buy u happiness. where and when possible, we have to stop planning to live, and live as planned instead! carpe diem.

k.t.x said...

well, i think working and living comes hand in hand. i dont think working is a hindrance to life too.

anyway, cut the crap.....look up! *POUR WATER ON YOU* SPLLLAAASSSH!

happy songkran!! suk san wan song kran na krappp!! LOL. smile always!

MissSHopaHolic said...

Priority...

This reminds me of a incident that occured last year, a very close friend of mine began to show to a few of us that she was drifting away from us, whenever we call she ignores,see her on msn she hides,try calling her out,shrieks away, at one point we just got the point.. but she was very close to us and we did things together.

Than one day she confides to me that the real reason she avoided her close friends was because we knew to many things about her and her love life suckz,but no matter how we slowly dig the story from her she will maintain tight lips, we didnt even know whom she dated!!! and there was one phrase tt she said i will never forget, People change all the time,and priority also changes"

I told my self that that would be the last time i'm gonna entertain an ungrateful person..and yup i never actually knew her...

zewt said...

Maxforce - yeah, i heard it before... i you want to get things that other people dontget, then you should do what other people dont go. glad to know you're well and hope you're back to your market best soon!.

wahlau - i am glad to be of service.

Seok Thong - hahahaha... did you read my new post? i think you got conned by the offer letter eh? :P working normal is a big challenge i must say... so all the best to you too. dont give up!

TTL - for family? ahhh... go ahead! hmmm... your parents may not agree.

anon fm miri - and i am jealous you can do that all the time :)

Big Rice - ok, try later.

ah john - but we suckers just want to slog it out in the private sector in the name of higher pay right? but then... did you read my latest post? hehe...

zewt said...

mich - i have to say i dont quite agree on the satisfaction phenomenon. those who derives satisfaction in their work... will tend to go deep and end up neglecting a lot of things. yeah, comparing with the wrong things/people will kill you. but then again... if you dont compare, you might become complacent... and end up lazy. it's a situation of contentment vs complacent.

baby sa - hahaha... or play some drums eh?

jermayne - 10 months and you already realised it? congrats!!! i like the idea of life from 5-9, that is so true. those are the time when your life really matters. i am surprised those time management courses actually teach such a thing.

mh - live as planned... what's your plan? hmmm....

k.t.x. - working is not? i am glad for you. are you... thai?

MissSHopaholic - yup, people always change, so does priority. but as long as we prioritise the right things... then we are ok. as for you and your friend, i guess there are things which are not within our control.

me said...

it's true, all that u said. but sometimes i find that ppl engross themselves over work because of insecurity. insecure over life outside of work, insecure over variables that can change, emotional tangles...instead of living life (which can be quite scary and challenging at times), it's so much easier to pretend to be busy and stick your head in good-old reliable work. most times, we don't have to be so busy. we don't need to spend so many hours in work....but the alternative seems more frightening. in work, we know that we are needed, we know that we are adding value, we mean something. outside, who are we? that's some of the ppl i see anyway.

mich said...

haha, yeah i guess the satisfaction part is tough, but everytime when i think of how I worked damn hard to prove my boss he was wrong and I was right on particular engineering decision, oh, that is my sweet satisfaction. But of course, I hate my job like guts because it requires me 7 days 24 hours and more often than not I got calls at midnight due to line down.
Haha, and for comparison. I guess for anything, overdose kills. If you don't compare at all, complacent will creep in; if you compare/compete fiercely, you will end up in the rat race. So what to do? ;)

Charmayne said...

live life to your fullest passion, no regrets! that should be the way it goes... :)

may said...

that's exactly right. live life!! and a balanced one at that too. sometimes the situation can't be helped and we have to work a little extra hard, but we must make sure we get rewarded too. can't let those hours go to waste!

Kenny Mah said...

I know exactly what you mean, Zewt. That's why I decided to call my blog Life for Beginners --- I'm beginning my life journey again, but this time with the right priorities. I am much happier since then... :)

zewt said...

me - that is very true... they find their self worth in work... they feel good when they tell ppl that they are manager, they are proud when they say they have how many staff under them. but they should know, they are also an employee nonetheless.

mich - hahahaha... i know how it feels when you can prove your boss wrong. However, feeling such satisfaction may give you satisfaction... but it's not something that can be shared. on a more realistic ground... it's not something you can eat :)

charmayne - agreed!

may - yeah, particularly when we only have limited hours in a day. must make full use all of it.

Kenny Mah - i am glad... your body balance instructor class must have been one of your priority eh? have to say that is a good priority!