I have been on the road for business the last few days. Between plane rides, customer meetings, and customer dinner, I ended up having to check my emails late at night to avoid any email delays (didn't help when there are a few critical issues that I'm trying to resolve). Last night just before going to bed, I decided to take one last look at my work inbox to make sure I didn’t miss anything urgent. I saw an email from a customer of mine that caught my attention immediately. The email title simply stated: A loss of a friend…
The customer informed me that one of his co-workers, whom I have been working for the past 5 or 6 years, had passed away suddenly and unexpected from heart attack. Shocked and not sure what to say, I sent my condolence.
As you may recall, a co-worker of mine passed away earlier this year due to ALS. Knowing ALS and its affects to human body, my other co-workers and I knew the sad news would come one day. But still, we weren’t ready when the news came. The passing of this customer of mine was completely unexpected and very sudden. I was completely shocked when I read the email. I realized that human lives are unpredictable. We simply can’t take things for granted.
Upon receiving this tragic news, I found myself awake, no longer sleepy. So I sat in my hotel room chair pondering and reflecting on life, more specifically work. Does the traditional thinking of climbing the corporate ladder really make sense? Climbing the corporate ladder typically means higher salary but it also means more responsibilities, longer work hours, more business travels, and more stress. All these result in less time with the family, less time to exercise, and less time to do things that you enjoy.
While some jobs may sound very appealing due to all the perks. The fact is, every job has its dark side.
My full-time job may sound really neat – I get to travel oversea, I get to dine at fancy restaurants with customers, and I get to stay at fancy hotels. But my job also has its dark side - waking up at 4 AM in the morning due to jet lag and unable to back to sleep sucks; going through some rough turbulence while wondering in my mind all the what if’s sucks; getting stuck in the airport due to flight delays is no fun; and having to dine and drink with customers can get old very fast, especially when I don’t usually drink.
My photography job may sound really neat – I get paid over $2,000 a wedding gig, I get to be creative during my shoots, and I get to work with some really attractive models. But my photography job has its dark side too – shooting a couple’s most important day of their lives can be stressful, having to spend 40+ hours in front of a computer to edit hundreds of pictures after a wedding or a photo shoot session is tiring, dealing with demanding clients is tiring, and having to put up with diva attitudes can really kill creativity.
Grass is always greener on the other side. Trust me, I have been down this path many times and I can tell you that... Grass isn't always greener on the other side.
We work because we need the money. So we only get to enjoy our lives outside of work hours and on weekends.
Wouldn’t it be nice if it’s the other way around?
We get to enjoy our lives every day. We don’t need to worry about money because our passive income can take care of our expenses. We “work” because we want to, not because we have to.
When you work because you enjoy what you do and not about the money, and you can stop at any time, you have all the power.
Your employer no longer have you by the throat, you can be very selective on who to take on as your client, and you can say no and turn down money.
That’s why I am so motivated to become financially independent. Being financially free means I have the power, I have the choice, I have freedom.
Earlier this year, this customer of mine that just passed told me that he was taking his family to Europe. It was his family's first time to Europe. All of them have been wanting to go to Europe together as a family and explore the different European cities. He was looking forward to finally spend more time with his family and have some quality time with his family. I congratulated him to be able to go on an extended family vacation and to fulfill their dream of exploring different countries in Europe. It reminded me of my grandparents.... they talked about traveling in Japan extensively after my grandpa’s retirement. But my grandpa never saw this dream come true. He passed away 2 years before his retirement date.
Life is unpredictable. We can be here today and we can be gone tomorrow. We all need to appreciate all the time we have in life and maximize our time on Earth. Do things that we truly enjoy. Spend time with our family and friends. We cannot buy time and we cannot get younger. We shouldn’t be slaving ourselves away in our 9-5 jobs and climbing the corporate ladder only to find ourselves missing precious moments in our lives, like our significant other's birthday, our kids' concert, our parents 50th year anniversary, or our family get-together.
Live life without regrets... that's how we should live.
I will end this post with a quote from Dalai Lama.
Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.