Wednesday, August 01, 2007

How Not to Work Another Day

Dan’s latest blog with a strange title (but not the contents) got me thinking too. My last job in Malaysia granted me 35 days of annual vacation leave (at first 30 days followed by an extra 5 days after ten years of service). On top of that, I also had 90 days of paid sick leave. And to crown it all, (fellow Americans, eat your heart out), I also enjoyed 15 days of public holidays, ostensibly because each race has its own unique holidays that everybody celebrates by not working.

There is a caveat though. I was a civil servant, working for the government. I think the leave entitlements are much less in the privates sector. Some may even have to work during public holidays.

Here I work a 40-hour 5-day week. Anyway that is how the pay is computed. I have a combined vacation-cum-sick leaves of 15 days annually. Besides, there are 7 public holidays. At first, I thought the disparity is because I’m not comparing apple to apple. And my wife’s friend, who is a State employee, just happened to drop by this evening. She has about 13 days of vacation annually, and the same number of sick leaves, and seven public holidays. So, on a total hour basis, Americans do work more than Malaysians. Does that equate to higher productivity? Definitely so even assuming the same efficiency, which might not even in Malaysia’s favor.

And hence, the difference in development status, US being a highly developed country and the most Malaysia can lay claim to at this point in time is “highly developing”? May not be sufficient but definitely a contributing factor.

Are Malaysians, then, happier workers, judging from the fact that they have more time away from work, than their American counterparts? Or conversely, are the American workers highly stressed, needing to resort to chemical inducements to stay focused, or in some cases, sane?

My personal experience says otherwise. No doubt I work longer hours, but I stay challenged most of the times. And there is no lack of colleagues to be used as sounding boards, nor dearth of corporate memory to shed light on new approaches.

After work, the greenery abounds for relaxation. And a stroll at a nearby park does wonder to one’s state of mind, discharging the enervating fatigue and invigorating one’s inner battery to welcome another day of living.

As one wise person said, find a work that you love, then you don’t have to work another day. Admittedly some days are better than the others, but by and large I think my present vocation is as close to that utopian state as one can practically hold, considering the fact that retirement is not as distant as it used to be.

In a nutshell, then, it's the quality of work that you do, plus all the intangibles that have a bearing on your disposition, that shape your worldly outlook toward life, which in turn will give a positive spin to what you do. And you have set a virtuous cycle in motion, and happiness, whatever yardstick you choose to use, is just a matter of time, and of course.


Dan Johnson said...

You pose a very good point, 'find a work that you love, then you don't have to work another day'. I think that much of my current 'lense' that I see the world through has been fogged. I am basing this on my current 'happiness' level with work, which offers little in the way of new personal challenges.
I find it refreshing, as you do, to take walks in the evening. They help to reflect on the day, and focus on the next.
Sometimes finding the balance between work hours and personal happiness depends solely upon our own attitude, and other times it depends on our ability to find a new job:)

Say Lee said...

There's where experience will come in. While certain attributes will remain constant (like one's sense of family bliss), other aspects will continue to evolve as we go through life, hopefully clarifying many issues as we go along.

Mom wanted to add that it is not easy to find work that one loves, at least on the first few tries. Therefore, a practical frame of mind would be to develop love for your work, whatever it is, to sustain one through the interim while exploring other options.