Note: Article originally published on Poached Mag.
In the good old days – our parents’ generation, people had careers that lasted them a lifetime, or 30 years at the very least. You could be a doctor from the day you were done with med school, and you die being one. Your dad might have told you that the first company he worked for was also the one that he retired from.
Back then, employees who were loyal to their companies had pensions, received stock options, enjoyed insanely desirable healthcare privileges and employee welfare. Back then, people felt that it was OKAY to have just one job, cause companies took care of them, and sometimes even their families. But how many of us right now know that this is sadly, no longer the case? How many of us, upon realising the actual level of competition (both local and foreign) we are facing, understand that we need to be the masters of our own future, and take on that “fight or flight” modus operandi?
I remember that even as an undergrad, I was thinking about how being an A-grade student was no longer enough. So while I was out chasing my As in school, I was concurrently doing internships, taking on extra modules to read subjects I wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn again (e.g. Sociology), giving tuition to pay for my own exchange programme to UK, and participated in at least three different sub and main committees at any one time. I was young then, and I had all the energy I needed to carry me through this insane lifestyle of being a student/tutor/intern/whatever officer or secretary I needed to be. My peers said I was “siao on” (Singlish for being extremely and maybe overly enthusiastic), but I knew exactly what I was doing.
What I didn’t know back then was that I had effectively become what is now known as a “slasher”, a person with multiple roles or careers.
How do you know if you are one? When you can’t describe what it is that you do exactly without hesitation, e.g. If you’re a lawyer, but also an aspiring photographer, you’re a laywer-slash-photographer. And how much of a slasher you are is totally dependent on how many slashes you have, e.g. are you a lawyer/photographer, or lawyer/photographer/musician/chef?
From how we see it, there are three main reasons why one becomes a slasher:
1) Work is just okay/sucks, and you need to do something(s) else to feed your soul and feel alive.
2) Work really sucks and you’re picking up other stuff which you’re interested in till you’re good enough to have a career switch.
3) Or (if you’re like me), you are simply not one of those people who know from the get-go what you want to do/achieve in life; so you give everything a try instead.
While some may argue that living the life of a slasher is one of the very few ways to find purpose and meaning, we have to say, it’s also one that is extremely stressful and tiring. Mainly because just like everyone else, we only have 24 hours a day.
However, if you still wish to proceed with great courage, here are a few things to note:
1) It’s really okay to be the “Jack of all trades”.
Yes, we know your parents may not understand, but they never had to. Back in those days, starting your own business was reserved for the elite few. Then, the Internet happened. Being pretty good at a few different things can be exceptionally helpful if you’re still unsure of what you want to do with your life, especially if you habour the dreams of eventually starting your own business someday, or if you’re already an entrepreneur. You’ll realise soon enough that you won’t have the funds to have a finance, HR, design department or professional for that matter, so suck it up because you have to get it done on your own.
Even in a corporate setting, if you do decide that that’s what you want to do, having more skills than your peers just means that you can step up and be a problem solver on more occasions, and everyone is looking for a problem solver. The attitude to have here is one where you’re on an adventure to add more tools into your toolkit.
2) Don’t let your job become your No.1 Excuse.
We’ve heard it all before, or even used this excuse for our own situations, “I can’t take up a course in/pursue blah-blah-blah because I don’t have the time outside of my crazy work hours, and I really need my job because blah-blah-blah.” Of course we feel you, but if you’re really passionate about something, you’re going to be willing to put in those hours. Even if it means you working between the hours of 10pm to 2am. It is only through patience and passion that you will eventually build something that’s big enough for you to ditch your day-time job for.
In fact, it was this video of a presentation by Gary Vaynerchuk all the way back from 2008 that motivated me to leave my cushy banking job in 2010 to focus on my online business full-time, after working 16-20 hour days for 2.5 years or so.
3) Don’t burn out, always remember to love what you do.
The lifestyle of a slasher is an extremely stressful one, as you may have already guessed, and it is one which may not always make sense. Sometimes it’s about learning the art of saying ‘No’. You may have many interests, and even more things you wish to achieve in life, but it’s also about remembering how you only have 24 hours in a day (that will never change), and how important it is to have some me-time.
On other occasions, it may be that feeling of being under-appreciated by those around you. I remember this one comment someone once passed on me, which is still etched vividly in my memory – that I am lucky to be where I am in life cause I’ve been given so much. To that person who said this, I would like to tell you that people like us have worked really hard to be where we are, so please do not ever take that away. And even if we have been “given” that little bit more, we have always kept in mind to do things with our lives to make us worthy of what we have received.
Finally, there may be days where you start second-guessing yourself, and doubt if all this lack of sleep and social life is really worth it. If the day should come when you start wondering if you still love the things you are doing, maybe it’s time to recalibrate and consider which ones you are able to take out of your plate and say goodbye to; which are the ones that you actually do love, and perhaps just need to take some time off to fall in love with all over again.
Image Credits: Fast Company, NoExcusesHR, LogicalSpiritualism, Kampyle