You’ve probably met them. The executive who brags about their job. The great company they work for. Every conversation revolves around how hard they are working and even though they secretly relish how indispensible they are. Sadly, I used to be one of those people. Boy was I obnoxious! I was so proud to work for a Fortune 500 company and felt like they would take care of me for life. You could call me one of the company Evangelists. Then the recession came, the stocks plunged and with it outsourcing. Suddenly I was redundant. I couldn’t define myself in terms of the company anymore. I didn’t have any other passions. Corporate life had totally taken over my life and I hadn’t read a book in ten years. Looking back I had even missed important family occasions like birthdays. Did the company even care that I had sacrificed? I was a fool to think they did.
Failure taught me the best lesson – one in humility. I guess that’s why they say ‘the older the wiser’. I get it now.
When i lost my job i felt I had lost my identity and that sucked. In Singapore being jobless or in between jobs makes you a kind of pariah. Even retirement is a dirty word. The first question you’re asked when someone meets you is “Where are you working? Are you at the same company?” Usually there’s a stunned silence when you reply in the negative. It seems pretty invasive and rude to me, but that’s the culture here. The other day even my family doctor asked me where I was working. And when I said I was not he raised his eyebrows repeated it back to me in the form of a question “You’re not working?”
It’s normal for bosses to expect you to work till 8pm every day. Leaving any sooner is frowned upon. Most people work till 10 and when they get home they fall asleep once their head touches the pillow. With a life like that you can’t help but not have any other interests outside of your corporate hellhole. Incredulously the government here still demands that we increase productivity and we’re chided for not being as driven as foreign workers from China.
I asked myself this question. If you were to drop dead tomorrow what would you have regretted? That work assignment you haven’t completed? Those emails you haven’t responded to? The country’s productivity levels? You gotto be kidding me! My bet is you’ll regret not spending more time with your loved ones. Or not indulging in your creative side and really living and exploring what life has to offer. So don’t let your soul get sucked into the Corporate black hole.
Every time I feel down, I remind myself about the bigger picture and rediscover the joys of living.