How To Have A Job And Not Work

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”


As a soon-to-be job hunter, I strongly believe holding onto this quote tightly might just be key towards having a contented life. Then I can be truly happy.

After fourteen schooling years, four more in university and another two as a working adult, it finally hit me that I got it all wrong right at the beginning. Getting a high-profile or professional career does not define my life. My career should be something that would provide me the essentials to fuel a lifestyle I enjoy.  While I am at it, I might as well choose a job that I take pleasure in.

I have been studying science as opposed to arts for as long as I could remember. Back in the day, my choice of major was not driven by my passion but more to a list of items which I now perceive as shallow:

  1. Students doing science subjects are deemed “smarter”.
  2. Science students can always switch to art stream anytime but not vice versa.
  3. Being “technical” has a bigger chance of making more money than being “artistic”.
  4. A professional degree is more prestigious than just a science or arts degree.

Perhaps it’s a cultural thing. Most asian kids are typically programmed to “study hard and get a high paying job, ideally as a doctor, engineer or lawyer.” I was really poor in biology and sucked at remembering facts so I ended up graduating with a Bachelor in Engineering degree. It never crossed my mind to choose my major based on what my true passions are. Never.

My subsequent two years as a practicing engineer in Malaysia had me feeling miserable, confused, lost, frustrated, incapable and very stressed at my job. Finally, everything simply boiled down to “I hate my job!” I found out the hard way that I don’t have what it takes to be an engineer. At least not in Malaysia.

I don’t hate engineering. I am not really good at it either. But sometimes I can’t help but wonder if I might be better off and happier doing something else that suits my personality more. If only I knew myself better then.

My decision to further my studies in New Zealand was motivated by the hope that it will open up doors for another career path – an academic profession and beyond. A second chance. I hope it’s not too late to acknowledge that I love to teach and write. Sometimes I question my own decisions in doing yet another degree in engineering, whether I am making another mistake in the choice of major yet again. Yes, I am still stuck in engineering. I have gone too far to not do a PhD in Engineering. Plus, those who can’t do, teach 😉 I trust that my background in engineering will help me teach better.

Now that I am many years older, hopefully I am much wiser in my career choices this time around. A job that not only lets me teach and write but also provides for a comfortable lifestyle. Professional recognition and opportunities for promotion are just bonuses for me.

Are you happy with your job? Have you ever regretted your choice of major or course of study?


21 comments on “How To Have A Job And Not Work

  1. I was an economics major in college, and changed my mind. My parents were kind of disappointed. I didn’t want to crunch #’s for the rest of my life and hate my job. I am passionate about art, so I became an art teacher. Some days I can’t believe I get paid to have fun and do something I love to do.

  2. nadia says:

    I have spent a total of 18 years studying (including a year of internship) in the health care field the way it was planned the day I was born. I wasn’t given a choice to take up anything else by my grandparents. I was the first born and hence everything was planned from day 1. If given the choice, I’d take up mass communication.

    Are you happy with your job?

    Yes! It’s challenging and fun, I can work from home sometimes, and my husband is my boss 🙂

    Have you ever regretted your choice of major or course of study?

    No, not really. It wasn’t my first choice, but I don’t regret it.

  3. D... says:

    Tien, life is about the journey not the destination. You have a lot to offer and what you choose to offer is up to you, so you always have the opportunity to be happy. And once you’ve determined what will bring you happiness and/or contentment you will be closer to your goal. It’s never too late to change. You’re a special girl and as long as you feel good about your choices then you are successful.

    D 🙂

  4. Cheryl says:

    Thanks for the reminder Tien…..I’m still stucked as an engineer and correction: it is not a high paying job :p
    Don’t know if i will ever find my dream job, prayerfully i will 😀

  5. Michi says:

    Great post! I am going through something similar right now, where I don’t know whether to abandon my “practical” studies for something that I will be much more passionate about – something that will make me much happier. It’s always a risky road, having to make decisions on a constant basis in one’s daily life, but all we can do is trudge on ahead (in my case, take several lucky leaps of faith) and have faith that your decision was indeed the best one for you.

  6. shinloo says:

    i wanted to be a writer when i was a kid. i used to love reading and all. but i thought that being a writer (a not famous one) wouldn’t earn me much. then when i chose chemical engineering, i thought i was good in chemistry, not knowing that chemical engineering didn’t have much to do with chemistry.

    do i love my job? well, i’d say i kind of enjoy it. i only hate the office politics. people step on each other to climb the ladder. people gossip about how unsuitable the other is to be a design engineer. people telling me, “she’s been here for 3 years and she doesn’t know how to size a line/valve/separator”. i also hate not given an opportunity to learn or be exposed to other projects. sometimes i look at the P&ID drawings, the line list, the interconnecting drawings that i’ve been doing for the past 6 months – the exact same thing, i felt like wanna throw them all down the orange recycle bin just around the corner.

    but u know what? my job get me paid. it gets me my guess handbag (though not burberry, but still), my food, it pays my electricity bill, phone bill, internet bill (which allows me to post this right now), it gives me a possibility of having an aspiration of a house of my own. and let’s face it, if i were to be a writer, like my childhood dream, chances are i won’t end up as good as i am now.

    it’s not the first time i realize this: the world is a cruel place.

  7. Tien says:

    Yes, i know what you mean Shinloo. Unfortunately, that’s how the world works for most of us. Well at least you can still write as a hobby, that would keep you sane. But keep to your motto, your job is just a job, that lets you live your life, nothing more. Cheer up!

    P.S. You have a Guess bag…..??! Somemore thinking of Burberry….? You go girl….!

  8. Claire says:

    Hey Tien

    I think the key here is to really know what you want. I have to tell you… after being in the work force for almost 6 years now and I’m in my fourth job… I can safely tell you – I haven’t found my dream job, just the one I’ve been fantasizing about….

    I thought I’d found my dream job when I last switched to the current job, but I guess I didn’t….

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate my job, but I don’t LOVE love it… I guess it’s partly because of all the restrictions and political stuff that goes around (It’s an office FULL of women… whadya expect?)

    Thing is, I don’t really know what I want yet… so if you know what you want… and are able to go for it… DO IT! 🙂

    Good luck

    • Tien says:

      Thanks Claire, you have a very good point. Problem is, I might think I want something, but I won’t really know until I got it. Hopefully I’m on the right track this time. Good luck to you too 🙂

      • Emily says:

        sometimes you just gotta let the idea hit hard on the head to know what you love doing. Time & experience will tell.
        Everyone been through this phase. Doubting what is the purpose of all this. Thinking and dreaming away what we should be doing

        Also because we are not exposed to what the world gotta offer when we were young and living our parents dreams and beliefs.
        Now that we are living a life, we see and we realize what life is all about.

  9. Serene says:

    Hey yoooo, I’m reading your blog. Surprised?

    I’ve been studying for the past almost 20 years now. That’s like 5/6 of my life. I do think that I was studying the wrong degree and initially I wanted to change from Biotech (after 1st year) to archaeology or environmental science, but unfortunately, I didn’t have the “balls” to do so due to the what am I suppose to work as if I graduate in archaeology and the I would be wasting parents’ $ if I were to just switch.

    I like science, don’t get me wrong, but I’m just not as passionate about it as some others. I’m more into languages but I think it is kinda a bit too late for me to plunge myself into that and starting all over (not to mention there’s the issues of cost and me not getting any younger).

    And now I’m in Chemmat Eng just because of Darrell’s project which kinda is a bit on environmental/green processes (which I’m way more passionate about that just the usual biomedical/biotechnological research of genes, DNAs, cellular metabolisms and etc) albeit not exactly how I would imagine the utilisation when I first discussed with him.

    Ah well, life goes on, and maybe I will eventually get to do what I really love when I’m older once I win the lotto (if I even buy any) which is to laze around and be waited on hand and foot and shopping! Kidding about the front part but yea, how nice it would be if I can just be a professional shopper. =P

    • Tien says:

      Hey Serene, thanks for dropping by to comment! I went through the same thing in first year and actually toying with the idea of switching to mass communication. Then I chickened out of the idea sighs. True, life goes on, best of luck to you and me… 😉

  10. […] are really really really smart knows better than to go do a PhD. I started my PhD program because I hated my job! I struggle with my PhD program. To the point I ask myself almost daily now, “Tien, what the […]

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