5 things never to say to your boss

Your boss isn’t your friend. Many tend to forget this point when they get too familiar with their bosses. Still, your boss is your boss. It pays to speak with tact, as the words spoken cannot be taken back. Saying the wrong thing can ruin your career.

 

What exactly does your boss not want to hear from you?

 

  1. “I just can’t stand working with…..”

That is going to backfire. You may think that by complaining about your colleague, it is going to get him into your boss’ bad books. However, that isn’t true. Complaining about your colleague will most likely ruin your reputation rather than his.

 

  1. “It’s not my fault…”

Your boss is going to see you as a childish 6-year-old if you were to make such a statement. Take full responsibility for the mistake you have made. Even if it isn’t your fault, avoid saying this. Take an active role to be part of the solution instead.

 

  1. “I can’t……”

When you are not able to complete certain tasks that your boss hands you, never say you can’t do it. You may be in a situation where you have other tasks at hand. Explain the situation to your boss and ask which is more important.

 

  1. “That isn’t my job….”

The tasks asked of you may not be limited to what is in the job description. As long as it is asked of you, it’s part of your job.

 

  1. “I emailed you about it last week.”

Your responsibility does not end when you have sent that email to your boss. When you do not get a reply, it is your duty to follow up on the matter.

 

Just remember this: always think before you speak.

Dancing to a Better Work-Life Balance

You’ve just arrived in the office; a mountain load of work welcomes your arrival. Your boss gets up to you and orders you to complete them by tomorrow. However, at the end of the day, there’s still a long way to what they call completion; you head for home with that stack of files and documents to accompany you through the night. At home, your 6 year old keeps pestering for a bedtime story; your new born cries non-stop. While having to settle things on this side, you still remember that you have lots of work to do.

Does this scenario ring a bell?

You can’t possibly tell your boss that you didn’t complete the work as you had to take care of your children or didn’t have time. Or else, he would show you the way out.  Many working adults today are torn between the two: life and job.

These are tips that can help you to improve your work-life balance.

1. Organise

Work is never ending and demands are overwhelming. Prioritize what is important to you: family, work and even your personal interests.

 

2. To-do list and avoid distractions

Create a to-do list for yourself every day. Set a time to complete them. While you are trying your very best to keep to the list that you have created, put away distractions. Close tabs that cause you to drift away while concentrating on your tasks and put your phone away. These can really help you to reduce the amount of time that you waste and allow you to complete tasks efficiently.

 

3. Take breaks

Did I read it wrongly? Take breaks? No, you didn’t. You may think that taking breaks are a waste of time but it helps you to work better. By gluing yourselves to your seats the entire day isn’t going to help much. Instead, take a short ten-minute break after 1-2 hours of work. Standing up to stretch, grabbing a snack (preferably a healthy one like an apple) or reading a blog post on Jobiness are ways to take a short break.

 

4. Don’t think of work after you leave the office

When you leave from work, stop thinking about the projects or tasks that you have. Neither should you check any emails related to work. With work kept out of your mind, you would be able to focus on other things that matter too such as family.

 

It is a challenge for many to maintain work-life balance. At the end of the day, many sacrifice either side of the scale. Work-life balance is very important, be careful not to overlook it!

 

 

Facebook Said to Plan IPO Filing for as Early as Coming Week

Singaporeans “like” Facebook.

According to an international study by Experian Hitwise on Facebook usage among various countries in 2011, Singapore ranked top in the list of eight other countries, as having spent the longest time on Facebook- an average of 38 minutes and 46 seconds per session.

Statistics from Socialbakers in 2012 revealed that Singapore has one of the highest Facebook penetration rates in the world at nearly 60 percent, with new members joining every month.

With increasing popularity of such social network websites, it is of little surprise that studies have shown that social networking sites are taking up employees’ time, with more than half of office employees surfing the internet for personal use during office hours. In 2009, a study by an IT research company, Nucleus Research, found that about 77 per cent of employees who own Facebook accounts use it during office hours.

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According to The Straits Times in 2010, it is estimated that 70 per cent of companies in Singapore use software to block employees from assessing Facebook at work for security and to prevent loss of productivity.

Do you find yourself checking Facebook during work hours?

Here are some considerations to make to help you kick that habit.

 Read also: How To Be On Time For Work

You will be caught

In Singapore, most companies and organisations, be it in the public or private sector, monitor the online activity undertaken by employees through the tracking of office laptops and computers by an IT system. Hence, your company is aware of the amount of time you take to visit Facebook, book tickets for a movie or to do research for work. There are cases where companies view the issue of employees accessing Facebook during office hours seriously and have taken action against them, in the form of issuing warning letters or verbal warnings. Negative or suggestive postings on Facebook have even led to termination, for employees both in Singapore and overseas. Recently, in our neighbouring country, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) released a statement in January that civil servants or staff of government-linked companies who spend significant amount of time during office hours surfing Facebook can be deemed as corruption, because the government pays the employees to fully utilise the office hours for work.

Also, it is common these days for bosses and subordinates to be “friends” on Facebook. Imagine the awkward situation, when a staff posts a status which states “I am lazing at a corner” and his boss reads it in real time through live feed from Facebook postings.

 Read also: 10 Tips to Increase Productivity At Work

It takes up time

Time is a zero sum game. Every five minutes you spend with your eyes glued to the screen viewing other people’s walls, will be five minutes taken away from your work. Instead of using Facebook during office hours, how about focusing on the work which needs to be done instead? With greater efficiency, it may help you to get things done faster and knock off on time.

 

It shows your respect for the company

By abstaining from using Facebook for personal reasons during office hours, it also reflects that you respect the company and do not take advantage of the trust that the company bestows upon you to do work during the stipulated hours. After all, you are paid to work about nine hours a day. How would you feel if you hire someone to run errands for you for four hours, only to find out that he had taken a nap for two hours in between? It goes the same way for the company which you work for.

 

It affects your health and distracts you

A recent study which was published in the Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences suggests that social networking sites like Facebook can affect one’s mental health. While it probably takes more than Facebook surfing to cause a Facebook user to become delusional, it is likely that seeing negative postings on Facebook can affect our moods for the rest of the day, making it difficult for us to focus on our tasks at hand or pay attention during meetings.

 

Nevertheless, Facebook is a useful tool in creating awareness and impact, drawing the world closer, which  makes it easier to network and catch up with friends. If Facebook is in your job description, it is certainly a powerful tool when used effectively to engage your audience.  Otherwise, stop procrastinating. Stay away from Facebook and get going with your work.

 

Maternity Leave in Singapore

Existing Maternity Leave Policy in Singapore

As long as the pregnant employee is covered under the Employment Act, she will be entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave immediately after delivery. This will allow her to recover from the physical trauma of delivery to her body, and also to care for her newborn child. This duration is the same regardless of whether the working mother is unmarried, non-Singaporean (whether foreigner or permanent resident) or if the child is not a Singapore citizen.

However, her employer will only be bound to pay her for up to the first eight weeks of maternity leave (and subsequently claim reimbursement from the government) and is not required by law to pay for the remaining four weeks. Also, employees will only be paid for the first eight weeks of maternity leave if they currently have two or less children (excluding the newborn) and have worked for the employer for at least three months prior to delivery.

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Read also: Paternity Leave in Singapore

If the employee is also covered under the Child Development Co-Savings Act (i.e. she is married and her child is a Singapore citizen, among other things), she will be entitled to not just 12 but an additional four weeks of maternity leave. These four weeks can be taken immediately before the delivery of the child, giving the employee time to rest and prepare for the delivery. In addition, the employer can also claim reimbursement from the government for the last eight weeks of leave for the employee’s first and second children, and the entire 16 weeks for her subsequent children.

Such government legislation has made it compulsory for employees to be allowed to take at least two months off work after giving birth to recover from the delivery and also to take care of the newborn child’s needs. However, this has led to some employees being dismissed after giving their employers notice of their pregnancy as they are perceived to be “deadweights” – being unable to contribute to the productivity of the company while on maternity leave, yet still drawing a salary during this period of time.

Discrimination Against Pregnant Employees

While pregnancy discrimination, like any other form of discrimination, is heavily frowned upon, it is seen to still happen occasionally (although this may sometimes be difficult to prove, as the employer cites reasons such as poor job performance as the cause for dismissal). As such, the government has made changes to the maternity leave scheme in order to reduce the occurrences of pregnant employees being discriminated against. From 1 May 2013 onwards, employers will have to pay their pregnant employees maternity benefits if it is found that they have been dismissed from work without sufficient cause during any point of their pregnancy. The employee must have worked for the employer for at least three calendar months before she may qualify for such enhanced maternity protection.

Enhanced Maternity Protection

Enhanced maternity protection is seen to mostly benefit employees who are already in the workforce and subsequently become pregnant in the course of their employment. Employers will be deterred from firing them because if they are found to done so without “sufficient cause”, they will be liable to pay maternity benefits to the employee anyway. Pregnant job-seekers do not enjoy such protection, however, and may still find difficulty in securing a job. This is because employers have little incentive to hire them when they could hire others who would not have to take a long leave of absence shortly after starting work.

A Tough Pill For Some Employers

While beneficial for employees, enhanced maternity protection may be too difficult for some employers to swallow as they face increases in operating costs and decreases in productivity. This is because they still have to pay their pregnant employees when they go on maternity leave and are thus unable to reduce costs by replacing such employees with others better able to complete tasks. Employers will have to find ways of maintaining the sustainability of their operations in light of the enhancements to maternity protection.

In the meantime, working mothers appear supportive of the changes to maternity leave. “Employers should provide support for their female employees,” says Nurul, 29, who has just welcomed a new child to her family. “The government is doing all it can to encourage couples to have more babies and employers should mirror government policies on this issue. This is especially so in a meritocratic society like Singapore’s, where one’s career progression should be based solely on merit, and not on whether she is pregnant.”

For more information on maternity leave, click here.

fathers day work tips

Fathers come in different types, shapes and sizes, but all of them have one thing in common. Each of them has invaluable advice to share, learned in life through their own footsteps.

With 40 years of experience in the workforce, my father is the best adviser whom I can turn to, for guidance on how to survive in the workplace. Experience is priceless, and this is something which can be earned only with sweat and time. I am grateful that my father had so willingly imparted such invaluable advice to me, based on his years in the workplace.  Since Father’s Day is around the corner, I’ll like to show my appreciation through words, by sharing the 10 tips which he taught me, which I adhere closely to:

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1)      Be helpful and get along with your colleagues

Colleagues are more than lunch khakis. It is important to bond and get along with them, because having helpful colleagues will certainly facilitate getting things done in the workplace, especially when you need to retrieve information or data from them. Thus, thoughtful gestures such as helping a colleague to carry some of her heavy stacks of meeting materials can go a long way.

2)      Don’t reveal your dislike

Even if you hate your colleague and know that he has stabbed you in the back countless times, do not have it written all over your face. Honesty is not always the best policy. Making a friend is better than making an enemy. Hence, there is no need to empty your cards and reveal all that you know to confront the colleague since the backstabbing has already been done. Open confrontation will not benefit you in any way and it will serve only to ensure an awkward working relationship with the colleague which you might continue to work with, in many years to come. Thus, be aware that he is not someone whom you can trust, but there is no need to tell him or anyone that. Continue to lunch with the colleague as usual.

3)      Be firm and confident

Be firm in what you stand up for. Displaying confidence in your proposal during a presentation will not only make a difference in the outcome of whether the bosses agree to a proposal, but also how they perceive you as an employee. Confidence is half the battle won.

4)      Don’t admit to a mistake if it’s not done by you

Don’t succumb to pressure and apologise or take up responsibility for a mistake which was not committed by you. We are paid to work, not to be scapegoats for other people’s mistakes.

 5)      Pay no heed to gossip or rumours

Every now and then, there will certainly be some office gossip which makes the rounds to your ears. It does not hurt to listen, but take everything with a pinch of salt and do not let the office rumours influence your decision or the way you work in any way.

6)      Be nice to your subordinates

The foot which you step on today may belong to the ass which you kiss tomorrow. While it may not lead to such a dramatic twist in the workplace, but it certainly helps to be nice to your subordinates or support staff. They will be more willing to go the extra mile for you, especially when you need to rush to meet deadlines.

7)      Follow instructions

Do as you are told. Instructions from your boss should be acceded to, even if you think you can do the tasks in a different and better way. Following instructions reflect respect to your boss, and you can do the tasks your way if you become the boss in future.

8)      Manage your time well and prioritise your tasks

Since work will always be streaming in, do not procrastinate your tasks and prioritise them accordingly. Just like Animal Farm, where “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”, all tasks are urgent, but some are more urgent than others. Learn to categorise your tasks and prioritise them according to their deadlines and importance.

9)      Trust no one (in the workplace)

A secret is no longer a secret in the workplace if you tell someone about it. If there is a secret which you do not want anyone in the office to know, keep it that way and do not tell anyone, not even your most trusted aide in office. Walls have ears and relationships can mutate. Your most trusted aide in office today may not be so tomorrow.

10)   Leave the office on time

There is no end to work. Hence, when it is the time to knock off, do so because there are other important matters to attend to, like family. After all, the company can hire another competent employee but the family will not be able to hire another competent daddy.

 

 

 

 

These are tips which are applicable in every workplace. My personal favourite advice from my father is point 10, because not only does it serve as a reminder that while we should work hard as responsible employees, we should also remember to spend time with our families, it also warms my heart that my father remembers to make time for us.

paternity leave

Expectant employees are generally entitled to four weeks of paid maternity leave immediately before their children are born and another 12 weeks after that. This allows new mothers some time off work to care for and bond with their new-born children.

What then, of new fathers? Arguably, they should also be allowed to do the same – the father is no less important than the mother in the process of raising a child. In a bid to increase the country’s declining birth-rate, the Singapore government has enhanced the Marriage and Parenthood Package scheme by, among other things, granting all married fathers of Singaporean children born after 1 May 2013 one week of paternity leave. This is provided that they fulfill the criteria as set out in Part III of the Child Development Co-Savings Act, such as having to take the leave within 16 weeks of the child’s birth. The cost of paternity leave will be borne by the government (capped at $2,500, where this sum is inclusive of Central Provident Fund contributions).

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A Welcome Move for Fathers

This change is a welcome move for new fathers, who would have previously not been able to enjoy such benefits and would have had to take out some of their own leave if they wanted to spend time with their child. If the paternity leave is taken in such a way as to coincide with the period of time in which the new mother is also on maternity leave, the father could also lend a helping hand to his wife in taking care of the child, thus forging even closer bonds among the whole family. In addition, fathers may also share one out of the 16 weeks of maternity leave under the new shared parental leave scheme, if the mother agrees to it.

Read also: Maternity Leave in Singapore

Not a Welcoming Change for Companies

happy asian baby

Companies may not be as welcoming of the change as new fathers, however. While they need not bear the cost of paternity leave as it will be funded by the government, they may face possible manpower shortages as employees go absent from work to care for their children. It may not always be easy to assign another employee to perform the same task well, especially if there are insufficient people with the same expertise to complete the work. The problem only gets more complicated if many fathers take paternity leave at the same time. Seeing how paternity leave has been legislated for by the government such that employers cannot simply refuse to allow employees to take paternity leave, companies may find this new change unsustainable for their current methods of operation and will have to find ways of overcoming this hurdle, especially in the current labour crunch.

There may also be cause for reluctance for new fathers to apply for paternity leave. While their leave will be paid for by the government, they may lose out on opportunities during that one week, or also be graded more poorly during regular performance assessments for being seen as having contributed less to the company. These may affect their potential for career progression in the future, especially in companies which have been slow to embrace the work-life balance concept. As such, some fathers may choose to forgo their paternity leave and spend more time with their children during weekends instead.

The introduction of paternity leave in Singapore has been a welcome move as the government tries to create a more parenthood-friendly environment for people to get married and raise children in. However, it is seen that the paternity leave scheme still has some room for improvement, and it is expected that the scheme will undergo tweaks in the future to address the concerns of both employers and employees alike.

In the meantime however, at least one new father has taken advantage of the change and made full use of his newly-granted paternity leave. “I really enjoyed spending time bonding with my son,” says Rio, 30, who married a year ago and is now the proud father of his first child. “I wish that it could be longer though – one week is just too short. It would be great if paternity leave could be three or even four weeks long, so I can really get to spend time with my new family.”

puntual at work

Punctuality is important because it reflects your personality. Being late for five minutes for a meeting with people for the first time can create a lifelong impression on these same people.

Being on time for work and appointments reflects mastery of your time and good self-discipline. It also shows credibility in getting things done within the stipulated deadlines and respect for others. As quoted by renowned American author Karen Jay Fowler, “Arriving late was a way of saying that your own time was more valuable than the time of the person who waited for you”.

Unfortunately, a lack of punctuality is a common HR sin that many employees are guilty of at the workplace. How can we ensure that we turn up for work on time? Here are some tips:

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1)      Understand why you are perpetually late

late for work

What are the reasons that cause you to become a habitual “latecomer”? Do a self-evaluation. For example, is it difficult for you to wake up in the morning because you slept late the night before? Were you held up by a task which needed to be completed before setting off for the appointment? Or, is punctuality simply not important enough to matter? If there are specific reasons which are causing you to be late, address them. Sleep early. Give allowance time when you plan your schedule and set off earlier. Make punctuality your priority. A change in behavior starts from a change in mindset. Understand also that by being late, you are in effect being unfair to your employer, whom you have agreed to on contract to come at a set time.

 

 

2)      Set your alarm early and have your “snooze” button on

Isn’t it amazing how five more minutes of sleep can feel so precious in the morning? Do not give in to the temptation and get out of bed immediately, once the alarm rings. However, if it is really very difficult for you to wake up immediately when the alarm rings, set your alarm to ring at least 1 hour before you need to leave your home and use the “snooze” button to give yourself a few “extra” minutes of sleep. Place your alarm or phone walking distance from your bed. It forces you to get onto your feet and turn off the alarm.  If this fails, get a good and reliable friend to call you up.

3)      Prepare the attire for work in advance

Do not waste time in the morning on deciding what to wear when you can have everything ready the night before. Have your clothes and shoes to be worn decided and laid out properly the night before. This will allow you to be more prepared which saves time.

 Read also: 10 Tips to Increase Productivity at Work

4)      Set aside allowance time

Set aside allowance time and leave your home earlier, to give room for possible delays, to ensure that you reach your work place on time. For example, heavy traffic and crowded trains are to be expected during peak hours. Hence, do be prepared and expect the travelling time to be delayed. Similarly, do keep a schedule of your day-to-day activities and have a safe estimate of the amount of travelling time required in order to make it for the next meeting punctually. Do not fix another task before the meeting time if the intervals are too short, as the task might take longer than you expected to be completed.

 

5)      Consider a car pool

To facilitate your efforts to ensure that you will be on time, you can consider taking up car pool services available which will provide efficient and timely transportation from your home to your workplace daily. Such car pool services might be more costly than the average transportation costs via public transport but they save you the hassle of squeezing onto the sardine-packed train or bus every morning. The additional costs just might provide you with the added motivation to be on time. Besides, having to meet your carpool buddies at that fixed time each morning makes you liable for their time, adding extra pressure on you to be on time too.

 

6)      Keep your watch/clock accurate

Do ensure that your watch/clock is accurate because you will be referring to it constantly when planning your activities. If necessary, you can consider adjusting your watch to be five to ten minutes faster so that you will always be “ahead” of time.

In work and in business, time is money. By being punctual for work and in attendance of meetings, you are showing your bosses, clients and colleagues that you respect time, understand the value of timeliness, and how it quantifies into dollars and cents. At the end of the day, if you cannot be trusted with time, how can you be trusted with other tasks? 

Don’t let a few minutes of lateness affect your lifelong prospects. Be punctual from now on.

 

 

Money happiness

I’m sure you’ve heard plenty of advice about how to increase your salary – job hop, make sure you get at least a 20% increase between jobs, don’t reveal your current salary, and so on. And we do this all in the hopes of being happier, because we’ve been ingrained with this idea that salary directly correlates to happiness.

Does it?

More money doesn’t make you happier – to an extent

According to this article, there is a solid benchmark at which money stops making you happy – USD75,000. That’s approximately a monthly salary of SGD8,000, meaning that any increase in your salary after that won’t necessarily make you any happier. But as the article cautions, before you rush out to chase after that magic figure, remember that there are many other factors that affect your happiness.

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Also, since we need to deduct 20% for CPF, that ideal figure for your salary is probably closer to SGD10,000.

Since the dawn of time, there have been sayings that money doesn’t equal happiness, like “money is the root of all evil” or “money isn’t everything”, and it feeds our innate belief that a higher salary isn’t going to buy you happiness. What this research study proves is something that humans have always believed, that material value will not equate emotional joy.

That answers the question, doesn’t it? A higher paycheck won’t necessarily make you happier because there are other, more important things in life. Check out Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – once you can fulfil basic physical needs, material things cease to be of value. You need to self-actualise, that is, do the things that you were born to do.

Read also: Passion vs Paycheck

Happiness

But wait – more money does make you happier

However, a more recent article debunks that theory, and proves that no matter your income level, a bigger increment will make you happier. Which makes sense, when you think about it – why would the rich want to be richer if they’re already achieved the maximum amount of happiness that money can buy?

The problem with this article is that it goes against our fundamental belief that happiness increases in direct proportion to wealth. It indirectly says that human beings are, at heart, mercenary creatures who crave pleasure above all else. It implies that humans are no better than animals, in that sense. It insults our sense of self-worth as people, because we always think we are above our basic desires.

But a bigger bonus does make you happier, doesn’t it? You can buy more things, it gives you the sense of more freedom and you have to worry less about cost. Happiness isn’t always so easy to see in others, but their number of worldly goods is. We assume that the more stuff someone has, the happier they are.

Read also: Find Meaning in Your Job

Which one is right?

With these two conflicting studies, what is the answer? After all, the studies have been conducted by reputable institutions, and they both clearly have the evidence to back up their thesis. Both make sense, and yet they can’t both be right, can they?

Can money buy you happiness?

I believe that question can only be answered individually, not on a mass, homogenous level. And to answer that question, we must answer another question first.

To figure out whether money can buy happiness, we must first ask ourselves what happiness is. And that’s the fundamental problem – happiness isn’t universally measurable. Different things contribute to happiness in different ways for different people. A chai latte certainly doesn’t make every drinker equally happy, just as a café mocha isn’t everyone’s drink of choice. Remember the old saying, “one man’s meat is another man’s poison?” We were all wired differently, and hence we all have different preferences, favourites, and (Facebook) likes.

However, because we assume that what makes us happy will make everyone else happy as well, we project that definition of happiness on to others. We see other people possessing things that would make us happy, but then we see that those people don’t value it as much as we do. We then come to the assumption that they don’t value it as much as we would, because they have so much of it and are therefore much happier than we are.

We don’t realise that they look at us the same way. We have the things that they would like, but we don’t value it as much as they do. They then think we don’t value it because we have so much of it, and are therefore much happier than they are.

Perhaps we have been projecting our version of happiness on other people, when in fact, all of us place a different value on different things. 

And so was born this misconception that with more things, come more happiness. This is simply because we all value things differently.

So what’s the answer?

It’s not how much money you have, but what you do with it, that makes you happy. Unless you’re Uncle Scrooge, who loves money for the sake of it, a fat paycheck itself won’t bring you happiness.

Don’t get me wrong – more stuff isn’t going to make you happier either. It’s practically the same thing as money. What will bring you happiness is, as Maslow pointed out seven decades ago, is self-actualisation. Doing the things that you were born to do.

What that means is to create. To make art. To help others. To make or do things that brings others happiness. To add to the collective happiness of the world. And not doing this as a one-off or only when we have time, but doing this constantly, on a regular basis.

This translates into doing a job, being in an occupation, and having a career that hinges upon adding happiness to others, instead of being based on how high a salary that job can give you. Ultimately, this means that your line of work is much more important to your happiness than how much you get paid. Make it a career that you can be proud of, an occupation that lifts up other people instead of manipulating them.

Because it’s when we make others happy, that we bring true happiness to ourselves.

passionnnn

When we were young, our ambitions were simple. Do what we’re interested in. When we grew older and had to buy our first meal, things changed. Money is important simply because everything has a price. Thus was born the dilemma of work – to do it for passion or the paycheck?

It’s an eternal struggle for almost everyone out there. You’ll always see someone who earns more, someone who loves their job more, someone who is happier than you. And that is when you question yourself – why do you work?

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Passion

Passion for work
Photo Credit: barrettrose.com

It’s a very noble reason to be working for passion, because it hearkens back to a more idealistic time of your life, when a career meant doing something you loved. But passion doesn’t always equate to success, materialistically or otherwise.

That’s because the reason for work is altruistic – you do your job because you want to. And because of that, so much of yourself is invested in your work that success is so much sweeter, but failures will sting harder and closer to the heart than if you did your job for a paycheck.

We all have to pay our dues, and when our failures accumulate, it’s natural to look on the other side of the fence. See all our peers who work purely for income. And realise that their salaries are so much higher than your own. There will come a time in your life when you equate your self worth to your net worth. And you will ask yourself: is this worth it?

 

Paycheck

Cold Hard Cash paycheckWorking for cold, hard cash is the answer, then. It’s a practical, respectable reason for work. Our parents had only one rationale for employment, to support themselves and their families. Indirectly, or directly, they’ve passed that mentality to us. Working for money is good, moral, a Confucian ethic.

Except that that the money has a cost. Your time. You are using time to pay for your money. Time that could be used to pursue your interests. To spend time with loved ones. Most importantly, time that could be used to develop yourself as a person.

It’s nice to have this nest egg. But one day you’ll look at your bank account, and you’ll wonder if it’s all worth it when other people seem to be happier doing what they’re passionate about, for so much less.

Passion or Paycheck?

The reasons for work are not so binary, of course. Other people stay on in their companies because they love their colleagues and the environment. Some stay in their jobs simply because they don’t know what else to do. Many stay and work because the company offers them good work life balance.

But all happy people have one thing in common. They know what’s important to them and they pursue them. You see, no two people are alike. Money may be important to me, but interest may be more important to you. Having time to spend with family may be important to a one, but good colleagues may be more important to another.

 Read also: Find Meaning in Your Job

What’s Important to You?

Different people value different things in life. Sports, friends, family, religion, money, passion, power, prestige – the list goes on. It’s identifying what’s important to you that is the key to your happiness. The question isn’t whether to work for passion or the paycheck, but whether you’re working to fufill the goals that make you happy.

Ask yourself what’s important to you. If you don’t know, try. It’s OK to make mistakes, to try every possible reason to work, and to not have all the answers. That’s what life is about. But once you know what’s important to you, everything will fall in place.

And then you won’t just be working for passion or the paycheck. You’ll be working for your own happiness.

 

LWE, which stands for “long weekend”, has become every Singapore employee’s favourite acronym in our acronym-besotted country. And it should, because a few strategically placed leave days virtually ensures that every public holiday results in a LWE.

According to MOM’s website, the public holiday dates for 2014 are as follows. They even come with their own unique icons!

[more…]

Public Holiday Date Day of the Week Icon
New Year’s Day 1 January 2014 Wednesday  new year
Chinese New Year 31 January 2014
1 February 2014
Friday
Saturday
 chinese new year
Good Friday 18 April 2014 Friday  good friday
Labour Day 1 May 2014 Thursday  labour day
Vesak Day 13 May 2014 Tuesday  vesak day
Hari Raya Puasa 28 July 2014 Monday  hari raya
National Day 9 August 2014 Saturday  
Hari Raya Haji 5 October 2014 Sunday (the following Monday will be a Public Holiday)  hari raya
Deepavali 23 October 2014 Thursday (actual date will be reconfirmed when Hindu almanac is available)  deepavali
Christmas Day 25 December 2014 Thursday  christmas

With just six days of annual leave (2 Jan, 3 Jan, 2 May, 12 May, 24 Oct, 26 Dec), almost every holiday (except National Day) becomes a long weekend. But the real question is: what should I do over that long weekend?

1)      Shoot your very own YouTube video

With the advent of YouTube and the ability to create your very own channel, why not shoot a funny YouTube clip of your own? Three days is just nice – one day to script and plan your story, one day to film everything, and one day to edit and update your video. All you need is a camera phone, any video editing software (like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker), and a YouTube account.

And if you’re very good at it, YouTube will even pay you. A little extra income on the side never hurt anyone!

2)      Do a movie marathon

Have you watched every Star Wars film? Harry Potter? Lord of the Rings? There’s no better time to do a movie marathon than a long weekend, simply because you’ll need a long sleep after that to recover. Especially if you watch all the extended DVD editions (and really, what’s the point of a movie marathon if you don’t?), each film can be upwards of 3 hours. For a trilogy, that’ll take at least nine hours to finish.

Pick up one of those collected movie editions at either Kinokuniya or Amazon, and your weekend is all set.

 3)      Volunteer at an orphanage or old folks’ home

Give back to society and donate your most precious resource – time – to the needy. It’s a worthwhile cause to be spending your time at, and you will find no lack of appreciation from the people you help. Sometimes we overlook the less fortunate in our race to the top, and it helps us realise that there’s a strata of society that really needs our help.

Take a look at SG Cares for volunteering opportunities, or call up your nearest nursing home to see how you can help.

 4)      Go trekking overseas

Visit a volcano, swim under a waterfall, and climb a mountain. Southeast Asia has so many opportunities to get in touch with nature (and disconnect from Facebook) that you only need a short flight or coach ride to get to one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Just remember to bring your camera for your trekking trip so that you can upload all those pictures once you’re in Singapore again.

Check out Southeast Asian Backpacker and Rough Guides for a list of places to go trekking and what preparations you’ll need to make.

 5)      Watch a concert overseas

Take a short plane ride and watch your favourite band perform in a completely different environment, with crowds of fans that more expressive, excitable, and energetic than they’d ever be here. As a bonus, after the concert you get to do supper in a foreign land, and that’s another adventure waiting to happen in whichever city you go to. Remember to book your tickets early though!

Visit Concerts in Asia for a list of concerts happening in Southeast Asia.

At the end of the day, remember that the weekend is meant for rest from your job. You might be a worker but don’t be a workaholic and spend so much time maximising each long weekend that you end up more tired than you began. It’s okay to slack off once in a while – that’s what long weekends are for!