Pressure is About Expectation

Wendy just arrived in Shanghai from her wonderful U.S. trip, but immediately after she set foot on the soil of Shanghai, there are many things waiting for her to do. Despite of the extremely hot weather (39°C), the to-do-list is hotter.

50 hours after her arrival, we still didn’t find time to check out the photo she took in Seattle. Wendy complained why there are so many stuff to do in Shanghai.

It seems to me that the pressure we got from this city is all about expectation – people’s expectation and ourselves.

My friends just got married. They planned to postpone their honeymoon. They said, it is the same to have it immediately or take it later. My suggestion is “No”. During honeymoon, the best thing is, NO people expect you to work, to reply to emails, or to turn on mobile phone… When people don’t have the expectation, your life is much easier.

Wendy came back and jumped into the center of expectations.

19 Comments

  1. I am always amazed how dedicated people is working in china. They devoted themselves so much into the work they do. Doing such ends up with a lot of sacrifice in personal life and family life. It is a fact in China, for the successful individuals and couples, they either have no children or their child is watch by grandparents or Ayi or they will be sent to expensive boarding/private school. So, I would say the pressure comes from inside and outside. The pressure comes from how you value your life. The pity thing is that ‘to be the best’ and ‘to be as good as others can be’ have been planted in our mind so deep that often times we forget what is true value for all those effort. And the problem is it is so hard to figure out what is the true value.

  2. She complained about too many stuff to do in Shanghai?

  3. It is not easy to balance working and family life nowadays, most of us need to work harder and harder to maintain the quality of our life now and try to have more savings for the future, as we are not the rich men/women. But,there is no end of working in the world, so the pressure from working will be existing constantly, happy life depends on how you value your life.

    Alice

  4. …this is quite true.

    It’s like a nighmare when step into the office after a holiday or a business trip, things are just piled up on the table and waving to you…

    I have slowly learnt to educate myself that when I close the office door behind me, I shall leave the working part of my life behind that door too, however, it’s not easy.

    We work hard and get better paid so we can afford nicer life and more freedom to choose what we want … on the other hand, we realize that we actually are lacking of time to do what we want… it’s all about what we get at what price…

    Alice was quite right that a happy life is on our own judgement. Many times, it’s a tradeoff…

  5. It is up to yourself to decide whether you want much out of your marriage life or much out of your work. There are people who are at their best when they devote themselves to what they do. The cliche works again in this case: there must be a powerful man or woman behind these people. Someone has to make some sacrifice. Of course there are examples where two people are what we call power couple (like Zhang Guoli and Deng Jie). But for most of us who have a regular 9-to-5 job it is simply a dream. Damn it (excuse the French) I work from 8-to-5 sometimes. You got to make a plan as to who does what in the family.

  6. Besides working hard and have high expectations, there is a pleasure, I think. People must like to work, and not only work to earn a living. What impress me much is about how Fast they can do all things. So many things to do in so little time !

    I used to say, 1 year in Shanghai worth 4 in other place… :-)

  7. Every man is his own worst enemy …when you try to find your real value from your self world….You have to find another you outside your inner part to consummate it ………then , bring into or maintain in a state of equilibrium…..

  8. “It seems to me that the pressure we got from this city is all about expectation – people’s expectation and ourselves.”

    No offense, but you think wayyy too highly of Shanghai, maybe rightly so… but definitely not in this case.

    Everybody “thinks” they have a lot to do after they come back from vacation or from a business trip (at least I do too). Especially in Asia/Japan where people work at least until 11pm every night! So its not about expectations from Shanghainese, it is life.

  9. Work , work and more work is the life style of people in Shanghai.

    Two of my colleagues based in the U.S. couldn’t imagine the overtime on Saturday had become regular to us .

    They told me that the most important thing to them should always be their family .

    And the time accompanied with their kids should always be prioritized .

  10. When summer is here and when I see my kids are on summer vacation, it makes me feel so bad that I cann’t be with them instead I have to sit in the office. We always think to live a decent life and provide as much as we can to the children. Maybe it is better to lower the standard of living and have more time with them. Sometimes I consider it is very selfish only pursure career, but not having enough time with family.

  11. It’s been said (and I think recently an academic study was done which confirms this, although I cannot cite the reference) that when people at the end of their lives are asked if they have any regrets, they never mention wishing that they had spent more time at the office, but almost always wish they had been able to spend more time with loved ones. It’s a very difficult thing to balance, however, in a society where the cultural expectations are such that working until 11PM is the norm.

    I would be interested to hear more in this discussion from those of you who may have grown up with parents away from home for such long hours. How did it affect you?

    I’m guessing that since it’s the sort of thing where “everyone does it” and “it’s just the way things are” children, who are by nature I think very resilient, probably don’t suffer too many ill effects from it in the long run — especially if they are cared for by very loving older relatives.

  12. Carroll,

    You may get quite different takes from young folks in China than those same aged kids in the States. In China, at least in the case of the childhood of today’s 20 somethings, their parents both worked as a norm and out of necessity, not as an option. Also, in China childhood is far more “communal” than in the States or many other western countries. Finally, in China grandparents, whether living in or living out, are considered family members rather than relative, therefore, they simply pick up where the parent leave off.

  13. I definitely agree that it is how you value life. Why i was so

    stressed before I had to keep meeting standards set by others,

    pressure on me. Everyone should define his/her own standard of life,

    standard of living. As long as you have a set of values, u will be not

    be affected by external factors. You will think how to accomodate to

    suit your values not vice versa. Such as I know I need to sleep early

    and wake up early and need plenty of sleep. Otherwise I will be fan

    zao and cannot think clearly and be will be nasty. I have gone through

    these horrible stages. Taking more than I can cope will make me hate

    work and life.

    I know what I want in life. I want a balance work life. I want to

    enjoy and learn from my work. I want weekends to do things I want,

    hang out with friends, enjoy the nature. I want kids, I want family. I

    want to learn cooking. I am not prepared to sacrafice my personal life

    for work and money.

    Since everyone has their own values to life. Some want money, career,

    climb up the corporate ladder, then they need to understand they have

    to sacrafice their personal life, personal relationships with friends

    and family. I want to help others, do voluntary work, want to help

    others, bring a smile on their faces. Life is beautiful, there are

    many things we can do except work and money.

    Do you agree?

  14. Here is my 20cent worth…

    I have been very lucky, not knowingly have fallen into the correct stream at university and the into the correct industry. The choice was pure luck. But I loved the job and the profession… having said that there are always days of less than happy situations. There were no regrets the money was very good and the work interesting and intellectually challenging.

    I therefore believe that with a combination of luck & careful choice there is a fair chance to get just what I am experiencing….

    I of course agree with much of what has been said about balance of work/personal needs. A persisent focus on what you what out of life combined with willingness to be independent of the peer group’s values( not yours) & develop an independent life straegy…. will naturally lead to a happy outcome, but Lady Luck plays her part also.

    I have run out of 20 cents !

    Ken Oz

  15. Stephen Covey wrote in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” that when someone is on his deathbed, he never wishes he had spent more time at the office.

    To live your life fruitfully, Covey suggests that we know ourselves better and find the LIFE VALUE which is your focus in life (This VALUE could be spending more time on wife/kids, your religion, your friends, your parents, your charity work, etc.) Once we have a focus, we can plan all our time (and pressure & activity) around the centre focus. Ask yourself if getting angry over a small problem is worth it if you look bakc after 10 years time?

    Pressure is what you impose on yourself. If your lifestyle is not satisfying, change your job/career or what your are spending your time on.

    As for me, I moved away from a stressful life selling CRM applications to a more relaxed work environment. The upside – I get to spend much more time with my wife and kids. I am enjoying life!

  16. I am a chinese from Hong Kong. I used to run my own business in Hong Kong since I was 19 years old. I always feel lucky and be blessed by God for all these achievements. God has given me a lot of strengths and trust in myself. However, I was kind of living up to other people’s expectations. Might be, I was affected greatly by these Chinese family influences, showing off my family’s name to other people. Shallow, indeed. A lot of people were competitive in the business, if y failed in examinations, y would be nobody. If y failed to be a top dog, y would be left behind. The feeling of being rejected was even harder to be dealt with. Parents put a lot of pressure on us to help us to be aware of these consequences in reality. I am not saying that parents did it on purpose to undermine us, in reality, they did not know any better how to have a better life. They themselves worked vy hard to keep the family going. They just wanted the best for us to have. They did not mean to hurt our self-esteem. Now, at 40, being successful and happy would be two different things, it is down to us to figure the balance out. I bet that a lot of chinese would not know why they work so hard in the first place, e.g. low self esteem, or just some expectation from family, or truly, there was an opportunity waiting for y to explore!!!

  17. I am a chinese from Hong Kong. I used to run my own business in Hong Kong since I was 19 years old. I always feel lucky and be blessed by God for all these achievements. God has given me a lot of strengths and trust in myself. However, I was kind of living up to other people’s expectations. Might be, I was affected greatly by these Chinese family influences, showing off my family’s name to other people. Shallow, indeed. A lot of people were competitive in the business, if y failed in examinations, y would be nobody. If y failed to be a top dog, y would be left behind. The feeling of being rejected was even harder to be dealt with. Parents put a lot of pressure on us to help us to be aware of these consequences in reality. I am not saying that parents did it on purpose to undermine us, in reality, they did not know any better how to have a better life. They themselves worked vy hard to keep the family going. They just wanted the best for us to have. They did not mean to hurt our self-esteem. Now, at 40, being successful and happy would be two different things, it is down to us to figure the balance out. I bet that a lot of chinese would not know why they work so hard in the first place, e.g. low self esteem, or just some expectation from family, or truly, there was an opportunity waiting for y to explore!!!

  18. I don’t think it’s only the people in Shanghai or some Chinese cities who are suffocated with pressures. I think it’s the society we are in that’s creating this pressure. Twenty years ago, when there e-mails and cell phones weren’t prevalent, people could work more slowly with lots of lays in between. People didn’t expect you to get back to them right away. But along with the modern hi-technologies, one can be chased everywhere he or she goes to. Not only there are cell phones, e-mails, paging serive, but also the wireless Blackberry. One is without excuse not knowing what people want of him/her because he/she can be reached any time. On the flip side though, modern workers are a lot more efficient than their counterparts from 20 years ago.

    I have two children: one in the Bay area and one in the LA area. Both of them always complain how busy they are from thier work. My daughter, who is a young consultant, says she often has to work until 9 or 10 PM. Sometimes, she has to go in to work on weekends, or she sleeps all day on weekends to catch up the sleep.

    I’m glad that I don’t have to work anymore. No work= less pressure=less compalint.

  19. Thanks for comments posted by Yo. It’s so inspiring. As I’m a stage performer, I constantly have to overcome the fact that I have a whole crowd of people staring at what I do, and probably judging the way I perform. I’ve never exactly put my thumb on why I get so stressed when I perform sometimes, until now, you’re so right – I always try to meet the expectation of others, their set of standards. Now come to think of it, it’s such a waste of energy to even to think about that. I mean, how on earth am I suppose to know what everyone’s thinking? Of course, there’re certain things that people generally regard as “good” things. However, do I know how each person rank the so-called “standards”?? That’s impossible.

    I agree with you that in order not to be affected by external factors, is to have my own set of standards, values. Afterall, it is me they’re coming to watch. And the performance is about my own interpretation.

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