In 2013, when I was still a young HR executive, I worked hard every single day. Long hours. Sleepless nights. Weekends burned. 24/7 standby.
I thought that was the norm and seemingly the expectation for a young executive because we were supposed to be driven and hungry at this age, isn’t it?
Then, an incident woke me up from the disillusion.
A retired senior leader was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer six months after retirement and soon, passed on. He may have been wealthy financially, but that was pretty much what he left for his family. The void of him no longer being that was definitely not filled. Someone who’s supposedly healthy and expected to enjoy his life just left so suddenly.
It forced me to take a step back and think a bit more about the sustainability of my working mindset back then.
In 2014, when I thought the previous case was just an exception, history repeated itself. Another senior management in his early 50s had a sudden brain haemorrhage while working overseas. He was sent back to Singapore in time for his family to see him one last time, but that was pretty much all the time they had left with him. A truly sad story with a relatively young high flyer with a young family back home.
Fast forward to 2020, my idol Kobe Bryant who was only 41, died in a tragic helicopter accident. I was devastated. I was a total wreck for the entire week. It didn’t feel real at all, and I was grieving. How could the hero whom I’ve grown up watching and emulating just pass away like that when he was supposed to be the superman who could do it all? It felt like a prank or nightmare that I would want to wake up from but unfortunately, couldn’t.
Most recently, a fellow HR friend in his 40s who appeared healthy and worked out regularly, suddenly passed on from a heart attack. It shocked all of us because no one saw that coming. An active contributor who was always eager to give back but yet, we could no longer see him again just like that.
By now, I know how life is short and unpredictable. I recognised the importance of making my life count and doing things that truly matter to me instead of what others expect me to do.
While having a high income, awards, big job titles are what many would chase after and feel good about, I know that’s just not me. If I can choose, I’ll go for my family in a heartbeat. There is nothing wrong to choose what’s not the norm. It’s ok to go against what most define as success. At the end of the day, what matters most is you being happy about your choices in life and having no regrets.
What’s your choice in life?