Tuesday, April 11, 2006

An epiphany 3 am in the morning.

I woke up at 3 am and all of sudden I have a mixture of thoughts that just fits together. I am not very good at putting my thoughts into words. So if what I am about to say doesn't make a lot of sense, I forgive about this.

I have been questioning about me and my peers about our career. It seems that in my generation this is the ultimate important goal in life. Get your career, work hard, move up the corporate ladder. Get that certification, get that nice job, get that nice bling..so on and so fourth. To an extent, we have been pressure or believe or raise in the culture that money is a big factor in your life and success.

We also have this believe that work should be some fantastic dream that we wake up everyday and screaming "OH I LOVE TO WORK this or that. I can't wait to get it started". Which in reality, it is hardly true. I ain't saying there ain't jobs where people get fulfill. I am just saying that most of my peers, myself include, dislike what they work for one thing or the other.

I ask would it be really bad if u work in a place that u hate and it is a 9 to 5er. Most of my friends say yes. And part of me also agree. I also ask..why can't u find a job that is not the greatest but it gives u the money, the means to do what you are passion for. Say triathlon. I mean does the J-O-B has to be what our whole life is base upon? Before I go on, I have to always have a disclaimer stating I ain't saying it is ok to be lazy at work. I am just saying maybe we are putting too much hope and glory in this J O B that at times really ain't there.

Anyways, back to my point. So what's my point. Well, I woke up, thinking about this and realize, hey there is someone I know did give up the fancy shamcy career and bling bling for something he believed in. And that's my dad.

You see, my family emmigrated to Canada from Hong Kong back in '88. My parents have no University education. Both have worked hard in the bank industry. My dad was a manager. I remembered the days when he use to take me to his branch on the weekends and he did his stuff while I do my homework. I also remember the times at my mom's branch during xmas party where I run around and must had create all sort of havoc. They pretty much give up their career to come to Canada. My dad still work at the banking industry right now. Being an emmigrate in a cultural that values local experience and a degree, he doesn't have the best jobs. I am sure it is much lower than a manager.

This ain't my point yet. My point is that I often look at how amaze my life has been. I mean, if you are to talk about star aligning and what not. That's my life. If my parents did not decide to come to Canada, I wouldn't be here. I would be six feet below ground. This is as simple as tart.

I was diagnosed with liver cancer back in late 89 or early 90 (ha, I don't even remember the exact date). It was my first doctor checkup. You see, Canada has social health care, meaning that all the surgery and the drugs keeping me alive right now are paid for by the government.

If my parents decided to move the family to USA or stayed in Hong Kong, there is no way they could afford my operation and you wouldn't be reading this blog right now. It ain't a difficult concept to accept. But one that I am truly grateful for, everyday.

Now here is the kicker, my parents did believe in something greater than a job. They sacrificed their career for the benefit of their children, me and my sis. If they stay in Hong Kong, I am sure they can build a very solid career in the banking industry. Instead, they give that up and come to a foriegn country to work in some low end job. Imagine, working the next 30-40 years on a not so great job with an unsure certainty on career advancement (if there is even advancement). I can't imagine it. Maybe I am still young in my age.

Perhaps, I need to ask the question from a different perspective. This ain't just about a job. This is about life. Perhaps I should be asking my peers, what values you hold that you believe that is important to your life. And such, how does these values correspond to where you work, what you do and how you live?

This is the first kicker. I believe that the reason why most of me and my peers are frustrated with life is not b/c the job sucks. It is because our live does not correspond to the values that we hold dear to us. Maybe soceity or marketing did a good job at selling us that hey if you get the education, get the job, get the car, get the wife, get the house, get the dog, you will have a happy life. If this is true, how come rich people has to kill themselves? They should be the most fulfill people among our society. Often contentment and material wealth are rarely correlated.

As a new Christian, I have trouble putting what I see things into Christ. Tonight, though concepts and things are starting to connect. I mean, they should connect if I truly believe that everything is created by God and nothing is by chance.

The kicker, as scary as it be, that hey what if tomorrow I face the crossroad deciding going for my career or going for my values. The career or JOB, as it seems, still quite tempting. If you are in the IT industry, you know you can easily be making 60, 70, 80 K. 100 K if u work hard. Would I give up my values for the bling bling?

The second revelation is that I am often wonder how come people (and Christians include) often complain about life. This sucks or that sucks. This is bad or that is bad. If anyone has it worst, that's my parents. They work 9-5 everyday for a crappy job. And then go home and has to deal with me (maybe they look forward to leaving the house to work instead of dealing with me, hehe). They didn't even complain one bit. They could say "screw it, we have worked hard enough and you guys are old enough to take care yourself". They didn't say "hey we work hard at work and therefore we deserve a well rest at home".

I once read that being strong is an attitude. Compare that to my parents, it is so true. If I really believe in Christ giving me the talents and blessings to take care of me, is there a reason why I can't have the attitude of strongness? I don't see why not. I don't see why I can't brave all the obstacles of life. Eekk..this is the second kicker of the night. I can work hard in everything, period. Hard at work, hard at home, hard at training and hard at Church.

If there is one talent I have. It is the ability to apply principles I learnt from one area of my life and apply to other areas. Be it at work apply to training or vice versa. Once I understand the life's lesson, I have to apply it.

I do get weakat times. It is easier to say, hey this ain't my fault or I wish I can be ignorant and didn't have this thought. I can't. Once I see it, I see it. Now I can put all these thoughts together and it is scary. B/c if I drop the ball.

I can't blame God. I can't blame others. I can't blame the situation. I can only blame myself. God has given me all the controls of my life. He has given me all the necessities I need and I am the Captain of my ship.

I often ask myself..."if to get to what you want and you have to give up everything, would you do it? If so, what's stopping you?"

Note: Before I woke up, I dreamt that my road bike is a motorcycle and I was pushing it uphill. It was cool, I can shift the gears and it will turn itself off.


Chris said...

Money definitely isn't everything. I'd rather be happy with my job making less money than making more money in at a job that I can't stand going to. With work taking so much of your daily life, it doesn't seem worth it to be a miserable wreck for the majority of your waking day.

Lora said...

Most people dont have these thoughts until they are in their 40's--hence the "midlife crisis". They're already set their lives up and now they question it--is this all there is, is this enough, what have I sacrificed and was it worth it?

Because of what you've gone through early in life, and having immigrant parents, you are doubly blessed. You will figure all this out early and have a much more enriched life.

Keep asking the questions....your answers will come.

Habeela said...

Deep insights at 3AM? How?! Believe me, money isn't everything but I'm tired of the Christians who use that as an excuse to be mediocre and not shoot for high goals. I think it's exactly as you say. It's not about the prestige or the wealth. It's about doing your best and whatever it is you do.

Best piece of advice I ever got: do your best at whatever it is you've been given to do now and another door will eventually open.

Keep having midnight revelations.

Hilda said...

As your family is Chinese you still know that in everything there are two halves, the good and the bad, the hard and the easy.
I’m pretty sure there is this positive side on your work, since you choose you profession freely.
Even choosing what you call following your heart could have its bad side... so just try to live enjoying always the positive side... on what ever you choose to do!

psbowe said...

yeah, those deep thought will surely keep you awake at night, but great post!

I think some people do strive to find & work at job that brings them happiness(less stress or whatever) with less pay but the fast increasing of cost-of-living works against them, it's alway something not adding up it seems.

Anonymous said...

For me all of life is a gift. We are here by the will of someone greater than ourselves. What some see as coincidence I would call providence. I too am the product of sacrificial parents. They have blessed my life and I owe them a debt I will never be able to repay. I'm trying to pass that on to my children.

I can see that your faith is causing you to see life in new ways. You should not only have the attitude that you can be strong, but you are strong. The evidence is there in your post. Thanks for telling your story. It's a real encouragement

E-Speed said...

good post Cliff. I think we all struggle with these questions (and if we don't we should!)

Cliff said...

This is Will's comment:

Comments aren't working so here it is

I have gone (going?) through similar thoughts Cliff. At one point I thought about leaving I.T. and just working at a canoe or outfitters shop, just relax and enjoy things slow.
I learned to not trust media, movies, TV shows, Oprah etc. They don't have any more answers than you or I do. Maybe less.
Work is what I have to do, so I can do what I want to do. Work has to be tolerable, but I think the human mind will always struggle with "The Man" being over us, telling us what to do and what we are worth in $$$.

$$$ is not a good measure of a man. It's the condition of his heart and whether he is saved or not. Work will never fill that hole, neither will Ironman or any other race.
Having a positive attitude is really a good first step. Trying to see the best at work and breakig it into small managable things. Be motivated to find other work if need be.

There will always be easy excuses to quit, stop, walk away from things and rationalizations, but a lot of the time, they are just that. Distractions from what we need to do.
Soon, the motorcycle will get to the top of the hill, and then you can coast down until the next hill. If you drop the motorcycle and walk, you've got nothing except the hill and you and it owns you forever.

You have a degree, you earned it, you're smart and motivated...make sure you don't forget that. You are what several companies very close to you are looking for right now.

The rest will sort itself out. You can always quit and get another job or another or move to California or BC or back or Alberta or Toronto or Hamilton or back home....

Dawn - Pink Chick Tris said...

Great insights and good feedback.

My 2cents - I have left jobs I hated to move on. Life is too short to be miserable. However, I'm with you, if you can't leave, think about what the "not so great job" gives you in benifits. For example - the place you live, the car you drive, the nice bike, the vacations. Maybe a little reverse (positive) thinking and before ya know it the job ain't so bad after all.

I've started over and even switched career paths a few times as well. I've been lucky to somehow find opportunities to do so. But did I find them or did positive attitude, confidence and transferable skills just lead me there. Money should not be the only reason one choses a certain path.

I've been broke and just as happy. Its really true that money does not buy happiness. Happiness comes from the joy we make of what we have or sometimes don't have.

Are the things you want (the bling-bling) really your desires or are you just trying to keep up with "the Jones"? Think about what it is that YOU really want and find a way to make it happen.

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

Few of us can translate what we love to do into a reliable paycheck. How many highly paid knitters, gardeners, triathletes and novelists can the world really support?

Life is about making sacrifices, seeking balance, and finding a way to realize your true heart's desire, not what the dominant culture says ought to be your passion.

If your real love is something (or a lot of somethings) that you'll never be able to make a living off of, you may have to opt out of the big-time career track with all its extra hours and sacrifices.

That's okay.

What would you regret most if you died without having done it? If it's bling and the career fast track, then go for it. Otherwise, seek the comfortable job that will give you the time you need to pursue your real passion while still paying the bills.

You know what they say-- no one ever died wishing they had spent more time at the office!

Rachel said...

everyone is different. being in research, a lot of people are workaholics and believe your life should be your job. i love my job but don't want to do it 24-7. i have way too many interests. I picked science b/c I thought it was a good way to integrate a career with something interesting and challenging. However, I still love the outdoors, animals, and riding horses, which I will do again someday. I have way too many interests to fit into one central job so I like that i get to diversify and try lots of things. but it's definitely important to have a job you enjoy on some level.

D said...

It is awesome that you realize that your parents made sacrifices because of you and that you appreciate that! Wow.

In response to your post - I wouldn't say I went all out - we went out with a plan and basically executed it. I like to keep my heartrate in the 140s and 150s during training (except for speed training and tempo runs) and for 1/2 and full marathons I try to stay in that zone for as long as possible and then get it into the 160s.

Great post.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cliff,

Great post and very thought provoking.

The internal debate you have about job vs career is one I often have with myself and my peers as well. As I grow older I find less self-worth from work and more from life. I think one of the things I struggle with is that pursuing the riches and success at work is almost in my mind obligatory because it's something I feel I owe my parents for their sacrifices. My parents gave up successful careers like yours in their home country and in a sense I feel like I need to fulfill what they left behind. It is not an expectation that my parents would ever think of because they moved here selflessly. But growing up in a family where hardwork and sacrifices are your life teachers, it's difficult to forgo these lessons and I often find myself wanting to prove that they made the right decision.

Thank you for sharing your midnight revelations.

qcmier said...

Cliff, Thanks for sharing. Be patient, be alert, remain faithful. The answers will come, sometimes even at times we least expect like 3am.

Nic said...

But is it wrong to WANT to find that job that makes you get of bed every morning? I am lucky. I really love what I do. Even now, at 7:22 PM, when I'm still at my desk taking a break, I love what I do. Keep searching - there is something out there for you to love... (And if leaving at 5 to train is it, then good job for finding that!)

BuckeyeRunner said...

What a great post. I often struggle with these thoughts as well. For me I am in a career that I when I began it, I thought it might be for me, but now, I realize that it is not. I can pinpoint the exact moment in time that I chose one path over another, and it was the wrong path. So now, I just have to deal with it. Although I am only 31, and not too young to change careers, I am too poor to do so! I am finding more satisfaction in my role as athlete, and not in my role as professional.
I can also relate to your feelings about your parents, as my father is filipino. No matte rwhat kind of dilemmas I may face in life, it is nothing compared to what he must have faced so long ago, coming to this country and making a way for himself and his family.
Thanks for the thoughts. I am sure that I will revisit this post often.

Anonymous said...

As always you are a man of great words of wisdom and truth! I came to this realization when I really started getting serious in the whole cycling and triathlon thing. The question you should ask...what are your priorities and are they in the right order? My answer was no, my job was 1st, school 2nd, and everything else a far 3rd. Now my 1st priority is my training and everthing else follows and I'm a 100 times happier. If I had the financial stability right now I'd quit work altogether as I'm sure many would and just traing fulltime.

As they say, "Don't live to work, work to live."

Unknown said...

I am happy to be getting an education to become a teacher even though I have to listen to all the naysayers tell me how little teachers make. I do believe that it is much more important to be doing something every day that you enjoy and believe in. I am sure that there will be many times that I will not enjoy my job, but I know in my heart that I believe in public education and helping children.

I am not big on money and fancy cars, but I do like to have money to go on vacation, or buy new running shoes and pay for race fees so I am still materialistic in many ways. Thoughtful post and good luck figuring it all out.

Mike said...

Cliff- excellent post. Won't repeat what alot of others have said..great feedback from everyone. Continue to feed your passions regardless of the job situation though! You only get one go around - make it count!:-)

Kewl Nitrox said...

I'm with Lora, what's important is that you keep asking questions. Look at the book of Palsms - it is all about asking questions and pouring out your heart to the Lord. That is what the Lord desires, a heart to heart connection!

You made an extremely good point - the job is a means to an end, and that's all it should be. Too many people make the job the end, and they wonder why they are miserable when the job goes south. The end objective in life should be to live life to the fullness, and only the freedom that comes from Christ can enable that. There is nothing wrong with having a job you love - it is a beautiful thing when a man's work and passion coincide, BUT it is a problem if the job becomes bigger than God.

I have said this before, but I am encouraged by your hunger for life, and your desire to live life to the fullness. Don't blame yourself for being weak sometimes - even Jesus accepted that sometimes "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak". What's important is that we keep running the race, which you are already doing so well. Remember that He has already promised that the good work He has started, He will bring to completion.

So keep up the good fight, and be encouraged by the impact that you are already making in our lives.

God Bless!

Eric said...

I have a mantra for you that I often repeat to myself.

I like my job, I love my.......wife, son, daughter, parents, dogs, etc.

Like the material things in your life, love the living things in your life.

I too am in IT and often wonder what good am I offering to the world. I am good at my job and am paid well for it, but where is the overall benefit. I am happy where I am at right now and do not wish to move up the ladder for more money because it would negatively impact my lifestyle.

I am a triathlete who works to support my passion and family.

Finding balance is one of the hardest parts of life. It's good to have those thoughts, I wish more people would have them more often.

Cheer up, you are not alone.

Battman said...

Being almost 40; having been in the work force for almost 20 years; here is my perspective.

You will never find yourself in your current life situation EVER again. Assuming you're like most other people, you will get a spouse, kids, home etc. in the coming years. You don't have any of that right now. The only thing you have right now is a job, and you will definitely have one then too.

What better time to follow your dreams? Work to live now while its "cheaper" because in the future the "cost" will be much higher. Go do Ironman Switzerland or New Zealand; take this tri-thing as far as you can, build some memories and have no regrets. At some point in the future, your perspective WILL change, and you will easily give up a 3 hour ride to be with your wife and 3 month old. But, what a great moment you'll have showing your wide-eyed child all the photos and memories of what you did before they were around. My kids love seeing what I did in college and my 20s (what I show them anyway ;-) )

Nancy Toby said...

I think this post makes plenty of sense!

Three times in my life I got jobs that I thought were my perfect Dream Jobs. In time my attitude changed. Three times I left those jobs thinking, "THAT SUCKED!"

I like my job now the best. :-)

Trisaratops said...

Awesome post, Cliff! I've been blessed with a job that I really do enjoy...most of the time...! :) But it is interesting to see so many young people hating their jobs...sounds trite but we really should appreciate what God's given us. You seem to have a grasp on that, which is awesome.

Bonbon said...

Man, life is life...Growing up is also admitting that life isn't perfect but adapting to your surroundings and accepting what God gave you. There is coincidence that you and I met or the fact that we are all part of the same fellowship. God put us here at the specific time and place that we met for a reason. He has a purpose for all of us. I mean there is no such thing as a perfect job...When you have financial responsibilities, you can't just choose your job or jobs...You take whatever pays your bills=)

Rae said...

Yeah, money is not everything. AT ALL. I look at my bosses and how work IS their life and I think 'no thanks'. I think at this point I want to create a job for myself where I get to enjoy the things I like. It's hard at a young age to pinpoint what you want to do forever, and I think that's why so many people our age work for a few years then make drastic career changes. I know I'm ready for one!

P.S. Your parents are awesome!!

Boris' Dad said...

cliff, you continue to inspire me. i'm really happy that God revealed these things to you -- especially late at night.

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