For the Day When Work Breaks Your Heart

The rule of life is this: If you care, you will hurt.

One day you will go through it yourself. One day you will try to achieve something meaningful but difficult; do everything you can; and give it your best.

But it won’t be enough, and you will fail.

One day work will break your heart.



The world judges you by results.

It may feel shocking at first, especially if you’re used to winning. You used to be able to say “Results don’t matter,” because you were already winning. Like the millionaire who says money isn’t important, or the Instagram celebrity who says looks aren’t everything.

But today, your results suck. You’re below expectations.

It will seem incredible that a winner like you can be viewed as worse than your less-talented colleagues.

Don’t be bitter. They’ve been in the game longer than you.


And remember this: your results may suck, but that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. You may fail at things, but that doesn’t make you a failure. The world may judge you on results, but your self-worth should never come from that alone.

You are a lot more than your job.



Understand that you will eventually find a way out. Your problems look insurmountable today; impossible to solve. I feel your despair.

But with time, I have no doubt that things will work out.

If it’s not something that you can solve yourself, that’s what your bosses are for. And your friends. You are not alone.

Remember, you come from an incredibly brilliant and resilient species. We’ve put people in space, wiped up horrible diseases like smallpox, and carry supercomputers in our pockets. That client-from-hell is nothing compared to problems we’ve solved together before.

It’s not that your problems don’t matter. But someday, you will look back at them and smile.



Some of your colleagues will take the easy way out.

You can tell by the vacant look in their eyes. They’ve checked out and become part of the statistic; they don’t care anymore.

You have two choices. You can join the majority by numbing yourself deep inside. Create a hard layer of protection between yourself and the unforgiving forces of work. A shield.

But the price for numbing yourself is this: as much as you’ll be unaffected by the losses, you will also be unable to feel genuine joy for your wins.

This is how passion for life dies.

Or you can immerse yourself in the pain, and learn from it. Manage it, while never letting it consume you. This is one of the most difficult things you will ever have to learn.

Because you will face that choice again and again; the next time you pick up that pen, mouse or notebook. And every time you dare to dream.


– – –


The rules of life never change: If you care you will hurt. If you make yourself vulnerable, you will feel pain.

But if you don’t care about your work, is it really worth doing?


– – –


Originally published at Thought Catalog.

Pic from Pexels.

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  • A touching article – almost as if you read my mind eventhough you wrote this three years ago. I think when it hurts like the devil, you realise that you’ve put way too much emphasis on work in your life and your reason for being. A course correction is needed at a time like this.

  • I do not have a good career life. I’ve changed to 3 jobs and my boss always commented the same on me which is I am slow in observing info, hence, my boss don’t have high expectation on me. I am still only an Assistant Manager in my 31. I know I am slow, not the street-smart type, but I do try my best in my job. Absorbing slow is not beyond my control. I might be absorbing info slower but doesn’t mean I don’t understand at all. I hoping myself can shine at work but is even harder now because I start to believing that I am not good enough like what they commented on me.

    • It’s okay to feel down Jacqueline. But never give up! (Btw for some people, being an assistant manager at 31 is already very good — just depends on our frame of reference.) Keep working hard, keep striving, and all the best!

  • The way you word the death of passion. Thought provoking. Hats off.

  • Deep and insightful thoughts! I wouldn’t have been able to word it better. It’s a great inspirational article for a newbie in the working world like me. Hoping to read more posts from your blog! Cheers 🙂

  • I dont actually relate this to my work, but when I think of the person Im with right now, I seriously can. All the hardship, makes me feel like giving up, and then, I feel a lot better now since I can say that
    this is worth it because I care for it.
    what a great reminder.

  • Awesome food for thought. In a moment, having the feeling of “the people who are crazy enough to change the world are the ones they do”. Then, the reality sets in and it strikes truly hard. Yeah, I guess everyone who read the article can feel the heat and pain. After months of hard work (despite less than a year ever since my graduation), I come to realize finding meaning in an imperfect present moment is not easy, but it is possible. Sometimes, things seem to be against us or doing some great stuff, but the money just might not follow. I do admit it that developing a greater sense of patience is important. Observing some quick-tempered young ones who leave their job hastily, I start to learn I need to observe the sense of impatience objectively. Hardship always comes up with something of fear, and it may not be within our locus of control. Obviously, life is about trial and error. The only way to do great work is to love what we do, but it may take years of effort. After all, slow and steady wins the race. Thanks for the inspiring article, Mr-stingy!
    P.S. Great talk show on BFM @ Ringgit and Sense.
    Hope to hear more legit advice and sharing from you soon.

    • Thanks a lot for your well-thought out comment and kind words Kit,

      So much truth in everything you said. Love this too: “finding meaning in an imperfect present moment is not easy, but it is possible.”

      Wishing you the very best ahead for 2017!

  • Still hopeful over here. I look to the few who get out of bed and be at work by choice. Gotta do that so that whatever plan we have can see the light of day. Being in the bog that is civil service is a daily challenge in itself. Thanks Aaron!

  • Thank you. Just what I needed on the eve of my job interview. A reminder of why I’d take the harder and unknown route

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