Don’t brag about your work ethic, ever

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Why nobody needs to know that you are a hard worker

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Dec. 9, 2015

You think you work hard. Well guess what? Nobody cares. Nobody cares how hard you work. People care if you get the work done or not. How hard you work is your business, and even then it’s just your own perception of yourself, and we know how often that is flawed.

It’s a competitive world out there and hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. However, when you start advertising your efforts as if what you’re doing is so much more significant than everybody else, you are putting a target on your back. You think announcing your hard work will get you praise, but rarely is that the case. Telling someone you’ve worked hard, even if you did, is like a pretty skinny person telling you that they are attractive. On the other hand, if you tell someone that you’ve worked hard and they found flaws in your project, then don’t you look like an idiot?

Wanting people to know that you’ve spent significant time on something is natural. We live in an age where sharing information—regardless of how mundane—is as normal as sharing an elevator. But when you are telling people that you work hard all the time, what you convey is that you are stressed out and under pressure all the time. Many people see hard working people, not as inspiring, but as pitiful. They have to work harder, because they suck at what they are doing. Other people with the same job and same assignment as you are getting it done with ease, but here you are, working hard. Pfft! Don’t make a job sound hard; make a job sound enjoyable and painless.

You might think that your boss wants you to work hard, but that’s not true. Your boss wants you to bite off what you can chew and swallow it well. The Canadian workforce loses $16.6 billion a year in sick days. Keeping you healthy and working consistently is better than having you breaking your back and winding up out of commission. Working recklessly doesn’t impress anyone, not even the person paying you to do so.

If you work hard, the product will speak for itself, and nobody will ever be able to take it away from you. It’s true—sometimes, hard work doesn’t pay off immediately. You can play a great game and still lose. But if you are genuinely putting in the effort, with a set goal in mind, you are not after the praise. You probably don’t even care what other people think. You want to do your best. How you get to your accomplishment doesn’t matter, the key is that you get there.

Wake up and compromise

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The pursuit of dream may not be the same journey as the pursuit of happiness

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor

Happiness is not getting everything we want. Happiness is accepting what we have.

We all want glory and success. As children, we dream of our achievements as adults and all the possibilities. People will ask what we want to be when we grow up and we’ll list off all the options: actor, athlete, astronaut, doctor, etc. At some point, we need to face reality; perhaps our childhood desires are not what we want forever.

Having a dream is having a goal. When you are young you have all the potential in the world. Nothing seems impossible. You can become a doctor if you want. It’s like buying a lottery ticket, and you are anxiously awaiting the draw. You haven’t lost yet. You haven’t won either. As you grow older, you might realize that you aren’t that interested in medicine, and studying makes you sick. Pursuing a career as a doctor—not only dedicating time and money but also excelling in the programs—is likely to be torturous if that’s the case. So I ask: is it worth it for a well-paying job?

When we talk about dream jobs, we aren’t really talking about the job itself, we are talking about being successful in one particular field. The problem is that our society only shines the spotlight on certain roles, placing them on a higher pedestal than others. The CEO gets the spotlight, the lead actor gets the spotlight, the star athlete gets the spotlight, but we ignore the supporting cast. Rarely do children dream of being part of the pit crew. They want to be the driver.

We want to take our interest and transform it into a lifestyle. The problem with turning hobbies and interests into work is that we turn something we enjoy—music for example—into something tedious. Putting pressure onto anything may often destroy it. And so it goes with dreams.

We chase our dreams, but what we should do is chase our passion. Dreams are a fabrication, while our passions aren’t. Once we accept that, regardless of what we do, we’ll have to work hard, we can then hone in and identify what actually makes us happy—or not. That’s the thing about passion, it changes, and we can allow it to.

It’s not a crime to give up on your dreams. We are lucky to have an opportunity to pursue it, so don’t feel guilty. Not everyone is built to climb Mt. Everest and to be stupid enough to believe you can without the hard work is irresponsible. Dream is a finish line. Happiness is the desire to improve and seek progress. Dreams just happen. Happiness requires work. Find work that makes you happy and that may mean changing paths now.