Eating The Elephant Whole

Last Wednesday was my first day in a new job.

So far, the orientation has been light and i’m on an early get-to-know-you stage.  I’ve come to realize that i’m now more sober when it comes to my outlook on the job.  Not that it’s not exciting, it always is in this industry anyway.  But unlike the previous years, i have consciously resolved that there is life outside of the office.   Since joining ICT back in 2009, i told myself that i will go home early.  The max number of hours i spend in the office is 10 from the usual 16 in the previous years.  Had i not resolved to do this, i probably would not have been in a serious relationship and would not have been able to appreciate the joys of being in one.  Sometimes when you are so entrenched into something at work, you fail to see the really important things in life, and then it passes you by and you wonder where the time went.  I’m glad that i veered myself away from the office addiction before it was too late.

Last night a colleague of mine boasted how she has to spend 14-16 hours of work in the company.  I told her that i have resolved not to do that anymore.  But she said that one cannot help it considering the many things needed to get done.  She even dared that i may have to  “unresolve”  my work-life balance resolution soon enough.

Coincidentally, in a separate conversation, another colleague reminded me to “not eat the whole elephant” and to go home early.  He said sometimes to eat the whole elephant, you need to take it in bites.  Of course, he is right.  (Then again, a part of me wondered: “how would an elephant taste like anyway?”  )

In the past, i made that mistake as well, only to find myself burned out and disenchanted about a lot of things.  In the end, despite a hefty salary, one needs to be reminded that no amount of money can ever replace the time you spend with the people you love; it cannot replace the time you spend getting to know yourself; it can never replace the little but special moments in one’s life:  a silent hug, loads of free laughter or even that most awaited long-distance call from a friend.

Not eating the elephant whole is also a message about temperance.  Sometimes when one is new to the job, a kind of raring fix-this attitude abounds in the first few months.  The Messianic Complex starts to grow on a person.  But as most Six Sigma initiatives are, the progress does not lie in enterprise-wide initiatives but in meaningful piecemeal projects.  The projects that you can grow and build upon as time goes by.  The projects that when you put them side by side become a storyboard of how you’ve evolved.

I told my sister a few weeks back about the asteroid Apophis that was once deemed to have a 1 in 37  probability of hitting the earth in 2036.  Although with recent calculations the chances of a near-Earth collision by Apophis is now low,  more calculations are needed in order to track changes in its path.  I told my sister that with all the problems we embroil ourselves in, it becomes so diminished when you get hit by an asteroid.  In the end, those little things do not matter in the grander scale of Life.

So here’s what i think:  Look at the elephant, know that it is there.  (If it’s really there in the first place and not a figment of your imagination.)    If you’re ready to eat it, also know that this is not a kind of “offer is good while supplies last” kind of thing.  It’s always going to be there anyway.  It’s a fixture in a zoo.  But not the only zoo highlight.

Plus, there must be other things on the menu.

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