Rich but unmarried and unhappy: This is what happens if you work too hard

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Are you expecting too much from yourself, so much so that you’ve lost what you really want, and gain what others want from you?

Apple is a typical fresh graduate, having just found her dream job in a MNC. Like many others, her working hours are from 8.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., Monday to Friday. Her starting pay is $3,100, and with the typical pay increment annually, she is on track to marry her long-time boyfriend, buy an HDB and start her family soon.

But it doesn’t end happily. Apple desires to promote fast. Going home at 5.30 p.m. means she would not be spotted by her superior to be working late. She takes more responsibility. She wants more than that annual increment; she wants to be promoted to a manager within one year and climb up the corporate ladder faster than her peers. She needs that new LV bag, too. In addition, many banks have called her to apply for credit cards; she realizes flashing different credit cards used to be cool, but now she needs the gold cards.

She was given a choice to be happy. But she expects too much.

Soon, she breaks up with her boyfriend. Her pay increases to $3,600 a month. She gains weight for she no longer goes to the gym. Her pay goes up to $4,000 a month. She is thirty-five now, but has yet to date a man for the last five years. Her pay is now $8,000 a month.

Has she really gained a lot? Have you grasped the moral of the story—the story that is apparently almost everywhere, including the place you’re working now? Or maybe, you see Apple in you?

Very often, we expect too much from ourselves, and lose what we deem as “not-that-important”. If you have realized, what Apple gains is not what she wants—not her own family’s happiness or her happiness. She gains “respect” for her $100,000-a-year gold credit cards and that BMW. But seriously, hasn’t she just gained this: Something that others want from her?

Why work for others’ approval? Is a nod from a friend more important than a smile from you?

Very unfortunately, walk around CBD at night and you’ll see many Apples still in the office. And let’s accept the truth instead of whining: most of the time, one would only lose himself or herself to work when he or she allows it. There is no such thing as an imperative 80-hour workweek—if there is, you quit. Bosses are often reasonable—if not, you quit. Can’t quit? You’ll rather work for someone who expects you to lick the floor (after all, we’re talking about someone unreasonable, right?) for the rest of your life?

I know I’ll be bashed. But trust me—long working hours used to be my best friend. Don’t judge me if you don’t know me. Now, I expect less. Have you?