Career, Character & Soul, Self-Improvement

Why Are We So Afraid Of Working Hard? – Deborah Tan

We’ve heard them all – the reasons why one should not pour himself into work.

“Life is short.”

“There is more to life than just giving your all to work.”

“You need to spend time with the ones who matter.”

“Money can’t buy you happiness.”

“Are you living your CV or are you living your eulogy?”

So many statements that demonise WORK, so many articles telling us why it is a necessary evil, why it is something we humans put up with, why it is something that should be done within a set period of time every day and not be brought home. We get it … to a large number of people out there … WORK IS A VAMPIRE THAT SUCKS ON OUR SOUL UNTIL WE STAKE IT IN THE HEART.

We even have movies and TV shows playing up the workaholic stereotype: a person who has spent his every waking hour working, neglecting his family, and when he finally wants to spend them with them, they treat him like a complete stranger. Or, the stereotype of a parent who realises – often too late – that she has missed out on her children’s growing years, and now is regretting how empty and meaningless her life has become.

Here’s what I really think about this whole “Work is a monster that needs to be kept on a leash” mentality:

You are afraid.

Before I explain more, allow me a couple of lines to elaborate what I see as “working hard”.

quote_hard-work-makes-you-luckyDefinition Of Working Hard
I do not mean a person who slogs away with no idea what his end-game is. I do not mean a person who reports for work at the office at 8am and knocks off at 8pm just to clear his in-tray. By “working hard”, I’m talking about investing your energy into growing a career, into becoming a force to be reckoned with in your chosen field of work. By “working hard”, I’m talking about you pouring your all into becoming the best. You hating your job because your boss is demanding, you having no choice but to work because you have bills to pay … that is not the “working hard” we are talking about in this article.

So why won’t we work hard?

We Won’t Because We Are Afraid To Fail
Those who fall into this category will attempt to explain their “disdain” for working hard in one of the following ways:

“You can never finish work”

“I have a family”

“I have a life”

And I’m sorry you feel that your loved ones do not support you in your quest to becoming great in your career.

I don’t know if I’m alone here but why is it that so many of us think that “family”, “love” and “friends” have no place near “career”? That they can’t all exist peacefully side by side?

I think it is awful for anyone to believe that in order to have a semblance of a fantastic career, one has to “sacrifice” these heartwarming, gooey aspects of life, and become a cold-blooded robot with no emotional attachments. The idea that we all have to “go at it alone” if we want to have a kickass career is antiquated and due for a makeover.

We don’t have to choose. Why should we? Is it not possible to have a great career AND a great family/love life?

The picture that so many TV shows paint, that of an alienated family standing in the shadows while the protagonist toils away at his work desk, is … silly. It forces people to think they have to make a choice, it pigeonholes people, making them think they are either pro-family or pro-career, and it provides people with the convenient excuse to “opt out”.

If you don’t try, you would never fail. If you don’t give your 110%, you would never be disappointed if you don’t win. Choosing your loved ones over your work may seem like a noble reason for not excelling. But let me tell you one thing: you are making them look bad.

Your loved ones is not an excuse. They are your reason for excelling, your motivation, your cheerleaders.

The truth is: if you want it, you can have them both. Because as sure as the sun is going to rise tomorrow, your parents don’t want you to have a career that sucks. Because, for certain, your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend want you to be proud of your work. Because your kids need to be educated that you are working to be a parent they can look up to.

No one can ever fault you for putting love over career because no one wants to look like The Wicked Witch Of The West. But have you thought about how perhaps the ones you love would also take pride in your achievements and hard work? Stop using them as a shield to cover your fear of failure. If anything, they should be your reason for busting your ass at work so you can become the best.

How-Working-Too-Hard-Can-Hurt-Your-Site3We Won’t Because We Are Merely Existing
You are reasonably good at what you do. You are doing reasonably well. The only thing that you are not giving to your work is your soul. Why work so hard to exceed your target when you can meet it and leave the office at 5pm? Why go all out to convince the boss of your proposal when you can simply do what he wants and continue drawing a salary?

Once upon a time, in my life, I was told that I should stop putting up a fight and go with the flow, no matter how stupid I think the ideas may be. While it was tempting, I knew it would only be a matter of time before I either become a zombie or slit my wrists out of frustration.

If you have a better idea, why keep it to yourself? If you have to endure countless late nights making sure your plan is well-executed, why won’t you do it?

While it may be tempting to maintain status quo, it’s mind-numbingly boring too. I can never understand why people use SOP or paperwork to explain why they won’t try to do things differently? I can never accept “red tape” as an excuse for not being innovative or creative.

If your work is not making you feel you want to go the extra mile … why not leave it?

My ex-CEO used to say, “If it’s good enough, it’s not enough.” You comfort yourself by saying, “I just do my job and get out of here”, believing it’s no point working so hard to beat the system.

Well, I’ve got news for you:

If there is no fight left in you, there is no life left in you.

I leave you this Sunday with this to think about:

Is there something you want really badly? If so, what’s stopping you from working towards it?

Do you crave change? If so, what’s stopping you from doing things differently?

Do you want to be just a blip in this massive sea call humanity? If not, why are you so reluctant to pour yourself into your work and make something of yourself?

I’m not asking you to die at your desk working. I’m asking you if you are willing to die working for something you believe in, working for something you are good at, working for something that would make you count.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits, and works hard, plays hard, and fights even harder. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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