Being a grown-up means juggling the three big areas of life – work, home and play. Work and home are fairly standard concepts, and by ‘play’, I just mean the whole realm of things you do for yourself, to keep yourself sane amidst the madness of work and home. Watching a movie, playing a sport, reading a book for leisure, taking music classes… anything. At present, I’m in that glorious stage of life where being unemployed, I don’t have to care about work (other than, you know, looking for it) and being single, I don’t have to care about home or family. Which means all my time is left for play, which is fantastic (and so rare).
There’s a growing emphasis these days on work-life balance. Articles about how efficient companies don’t need their employees to work long hours are always floating around, reminding people that there’s a life out there where it is possible to have time for all the other joys of life. Still, of all the people I’ve talked to who are working (and this is especially true for people who work in Singapore), very few have ever said they’re content with the proportions work/home/play take up in their lives. Often, it is skewed disproportionately towards work, with whatever remaining time people have being devoted to home (especially for people with kids), and little to no time for play. It’s sad, but it’s the state of things right now, and I doubt it’s going to change much any time soon.
I’ve never been a career-oriented person; I don’t have big ambitions in terms of position or money. Secretary or chairman, I’m fine with either position as long as I have enough money to live a comfortable life and enough time to enjoy life. In that sense, I have a very clear idea of what I want my life proportions to be. If I’m working at a job that takes up 90% of my time, it has to be something I enjoy enough for me to consider it in the ‘play’ category as well. Otherwise, I want a job that takes up no more than 50% of my time, so I can actually spend the remaining 50% doing things I actually like.
That’s why I quit my previous job. It was not that it took 90% of my time that was the problem, so much that I wasn’t enjoying myself. There was just no point doing something that neither gave me joy in itself, nor the time to derive joy from other things. It’s also why I’m not in a desperate hurry to apply to whatever job opening is available. I don’t want to be stuck in that cycle again. I’d rather take my time finding something that suits my priorities before taking the leap. I’m also not averse to the not-so-glamorous idea of job-hopping, because until I find a job that fits my ideal work/home/play proportions, I will keep looking.
For me, home and play are glass balls that I need to keep in the air. The rubber ball that is work will bounce, but those other two will crack if I don’t give them attention, and I’m not willing to take that risk.