Don’t Feel Miserable about your 9-5 Office Job. It’s a Blessing.


nine_to_five

There are way too many articles circulating the internet, social media and newspapers that start to promote the idea of “Quit your job, escape the 9-5 grind, do what you love, set up your own business, travel the world“. While I completely support the notion of doing what you love, setting up your own businesses and travelling the world (I mean, who doesn’t enjoy doing that!), the notion is too one-sided and treats the “Office Job”, as known as “9-5”, like it’s a completely soulless, demonic, job that everyone should quit and strive to ‘be unique, be different‘.

Ever heard that the grass is greener on the other side?

During my travels to Vietnam and Thailand, I’ve talked to many locals who work hard at the markets and shops. Blue-collared, humble workers. The average salary in Vietnam is $200/month. If they are lucky enough to land a computer job it could go up to $400/month. In Thailand, fresh graduates who come out of the best universities in Bangkok earn up to $600/month. I almost choked on my Phad Thai when they asked me how much do Singaporean graduates typically earn a month.

To force yourself to admit that your salary is at least 5x~10x more than someone doing the exact same thing in another country was not easy. And they envy your life. They wish they had your salary. And they will wholeheartedly commit to yourboring‘ office job if you gave them the chance. I simply cannot stand it when people start whining about how it sucks to get up at 9am for work and start complaining about how their ‘life sucks’ because they had to do OT up till 7pm/8pm. On the other hand admire the spirit of the people working in the developing countries. You would see the same lady, setting up her vegetable shop as early as 7am in the morning, and she will be closing shop at 9pm at night. You can recognize the same chef cooking your Pho noodles throughout the week.

Yes, the articles says you should travel the world. I support that and I think you should. Because when you do, you will come to the realization that our lives have been taken for granted. We suffer from a first-world mentality that a job can actually become ‘boring’, to the point whereby the salary is a non-issue, and then we start to search Google for the possibilities of fun and entertaining jobs to replace the office grind. White-collar jobs become labelled as ‘soulless’, ‘boring’ and ‘waste of life’. And then you start to look towards two things: Blue-collar jobs that are fun, and setting up your own business.

Remember, love and family also has financial decisions included. First you must ask yourself if you are able to abandon your family for the sake of finding a free life. You need to ask yourself which is more important, and if you’re able to support your parents, wife or children in that case. I completely agree that travelling the world without having to work in a 9-5 job is entirely possible. http://www.nomadicmatt.com/

But know that this is possible if do not have any family or lovers’ responsibilities to bear.

Not everyone can set up their own business. This is a realistic article, not a pessimistic one. Statistics? 1 in 10 businesses fail. Of the recent cafe business boom in Singapore, barely 3 out of 10 cafes are making healthy profits and the rest are preparing to close down due to sky-high rental rates in prime locations. A good entrepreneur knows the difference between confidence and foolishness. Yes, setting up your own business so you can escape the working life and be your own boss is the ideal stuff that everyone wants to strive for. There are tons of self-help books out there calling out for people to become their own boss so they do not have to work for another boss.

People need to start realizing that if everybody became bosses, then who will be the employees?

And hey, sometimes it puzzles me when people say they want to start their own brick-and-mortar business without even having a decent capital. The cost of setting up a cafe in Singapore is minimally $100,000. And that’s assuming you last up to a year. Yea, you had to save $100,000 from somewhere right? From a job, maybe? Ladyironchef writes about the minimal start up costs required to set up your own cafe. http://www.ladyironchef.com/2015/01/how-much-it-costs-to-open-cafe/

How are you able to travel to different continents and cities in the world, and stare in awe of the city sights, the vibrant life and the iconic monuments? All the wonders in this world come from the hard work of humans. Hell, if everyone chose to slack off, live life as a free vagabond, and start to curse anyone else who had an office job, there wouldn’t even be any amazing thing left for you to look at. Economies will be in ruins, cities will crumble and no one will be working hard in their laboratories coming up with the latest inventions and gadgets for the sake of a better mankind. No one will be running the banks (which everyone says is a soul prison), the corporate MNCs. Your airports won’t open, the buses and trains will be down, and you will start asking what happened to your water, gas and electric supplies?

Oh, why is the shopping mall closed? Yea, because everyone didn’t want to work.

Yes, you can set up your own business. Why not? However when you do it, don’t do it just because you hate your job. Don’t do it just because you have an extremist mindset “I don’t want to work for a crappy boss and I want to be the boss”. Know that when you’re the boss, you have employees to take care of. And you don’t want to be that crappy boss. Also, if you’re actually stuck with a crappy boss, why not consider switching to another company with a friendlier working culture?

One of the top reasons why people leave their jobs is because they did not manage to find any social connections or fulfilment from their colleagues and superiors in the office.

Do it because you want to do what you love. You want to sell your ideas in the forms of products and services. Because you have a passion for it. Then you will have a higher rate of success. Eventually, you will have employees under you, and you’d also want to make them feel that it’s worth it to work for you, and they’re not put into a “Soulless, demeaning, boring” position where their work has no value and they feel they’re not contributing to society.

When I say “Office Job”, I don’t mean any typical office job. There are many scientists working hard at their laboratories. Doctors and experts are fighting day and night, pushing research papers to find cures. Computer programmers and designers are working hard everyday on their workdesk to crack new codes and languages so that you could actually enjoy your beloved Android and Apple. Financial analysts perform forecasts to predict the economy and future outlook. The list goes on.

Getting past that first interview, clinching your 9-5 office job, is a blessing. Even when you are forced to work OT sometimes. The salary you command is higher than what 80% of the world is earning. You have an air-con room. You’re not forced to sweat nor work every single muscle in your body. There’s actual prospects of promotion. Know that you are contributing to society one-way or another. Especially so if it’s a big corporation. There are thousands of graduates fighting to get the same job position as you. The fact that you got through the interview makes you somewhat special in your employers’ eyes.

Part of life is also accepting reality and coming to terms with it. Happiness comes from within. Not from status, fame, power, or your job position. Accounting has always been stereotyped as a boring, grinder job. That does not mean being an accountant equals to being sad and miserable. Who says you can’t report to office in the morning with a smile, chat up your colleagues, have a great hang out with everyone after work, go back home and find your peace and quiet? Happiness is a state of mind. So is sadness. If you keep believing and thinking your job is miserable, then it is.

Am I saying you should be committed to working in a 9-5 your entire life until your deathbed? No.

In fact, I think it’s interesting to mix things up a little and try different things every now and then. It’s just that, you don’t have to feel miserable and sad about your 9-5 office job. It’s fine. Happiness is a choice, so is your career.

Writers’ Note: This article takes a neutral standpoint on what career choices people make. It’s not an overly optimistic article like the crap you see nowadays on Facebook, telling you to quit your job and #YOLO. Sometimes, the world needs hard workers to function properly and progress. And it’s alright to be a hard worker. You can be happy while working hard. Seriously why not? Don’t diss them, nor curse their jobs saying it’s useless or boring. After all, hard workers are the reasons why technology and economy has come this far.

Jackie Loh

Writer

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