Don’t be one of the “Hodo Zoho”

Here’s a new phenomenon we are seeing in Japan.  Young professionals are turning down “promotions” because they want a life in addition to their work.  Civil service workers are choosing not to take career-advancing exams and thousands of IT workers are looking to switch to less demanding positions.  The Tokyo Metropolitan Government (once the goal of many elite workers) now says only 14% of the eligible employees took high level exams for management positions in 2007 – down from 40% thirty years ago. 

The “hodo-hodo zohu” translates roughly to the “so-so folks.”  Before you jump to conclusions about this new “slacker generation” please remember there is another term that has been very popular in Japan in the last 20 years as they have gained business and economic prominence.  That term is “karoshi” and it means “death from overwork.”  There have been cases of 30 and 40-yr olds who have died at their desks after weeks and months of 14 hour days, seven days a week in their attempts to climb the corporate and financial ladder.

So where’s the balance here?  If you turn down a promotion you will be seen as a “slacker” and similar to the “hodo-hodo zohu.”  If you work 70 hours a week you may be risking “karoshi.” 

We all have 168 hours a week – no more, no less.  If you sleep 8 hours a night and work 70 hours a week you are left with 42 hours – or 6 hours a day.  That has to cover your investment of time in your physical, social, parenting and marital, spiritual and personal development areas.  If you are the “average” American you are also watching 2.6 hours of TV every day.  That drops the time down to 3.4 hours for all those important life areas. 

I trust it’s clear there won’t be much success in any of those areas with that little time invested.   Don’t compromise the success you want physically, spiritually, in your marriage and your family by having it dry up from lack of attention. 

Okay – what are you if you have it all together — you’re already standing out from the crowd?  My Japanese is pretty weak so let’s just go with:  “Urfulealive”

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14 Responses to “Don’t be one of the “Hodo Zoho””

  1. David Rupert Says:

    ah…love it dan!

    It took me a while to figure the difference between “life” and “living”. Your post is a great reminder that there are important things in life!


  2. Elias Salem Says:


    Last year on the day after Christmas I was driving to work and nearly wrecked my vehicle. Thank God nothing happened. I was so mad that I had to go to work that day that I called my wife and said, “I promise you, I will be working from next year at this time.” I had the desire and the goal in mind and here I am working from home. I can even come to your 212 Event with out worrying about “vacation time”. See Ya!
    Eli – Littleton, CO

  3. Erin Casey Says:

    Being fully alive… isn’t that what we all want?! Living in overdrive certainly takes its toll. Finding time to unplug has been huge for me. Turning off my phone, going camping with my family, having a few TV-free evenings… My next challenge is learning to be fully present – to not think about work when I’m with my family.

  4. Ray Says:

    Very Nicely put Dan!

    Isn’t it amazing what we will wrap up our limited lifetime in? 168 hours, and we choose to pour the majority into paying for what we think we want or what the world says we need. Then, we try to balance out the remaining 6 hours a day between so much other stuff, therefore, in frustration, we throw some of that away watching entertainment!

    Jesus said in Matthew 6 that we should not waste time worrying about what we will eat, drink, and wear. I imagine today He might add, where we live. If he has taken the time and thought to care for birds and flowers, how much more for us!

    It is true we must work, but our Focus should always be toward Him. Not “what He wants us to do!” Just the person of JESUS himself. When we stare at Him, all else falls into place properly!

  5. Sam Says:

    This has been my philosophy for most of my life. Trust in the Universe and you will be taken care of. It got me through a lot of hard times, raising three really great kids and an amicable divorce. At 54 years young, however, I must admit I have started thinking about my future (retirement years). I would like nothing better than to work about 20 hours a week and use the rest of the time to cook and bake and read and walk in nature and fully experience each sensation. Since I’m not quite there yet, I’ve developed a way to still fully live and continue to work 40 hours a week. It’s not always easy – but the weekends belong to me, my significant other, my children, and my friends. Time is not a consideration for those 2 days. We laugh, play, work, and live. It’s good to be alive. 🙂

  6. Marla Martenson Says:

    So true! We are working ourselves to death! And usually for someone else! We need to find a balance.

  7. Says:

    Interesting article.

    Dan is scheduled to talk live about how “48 Days” applies to the music business on 11/05/08.

  8. Toni Brayton Says:

    I’m a wife, mother, grandmother, church volunteer, Youth for Christ volunteer, neighborhood association president, tax preparation volunteer and part-time self-employed woman. I’m learning to say ‘no’ sometimes and turn off the phone. The stress level goes way down and I can concentrate on the important tasks in front of me. I have energy left at the end of the day to give my family. That’s the best part.

  9. Eddie Says:

    Balance? Is there a way to balance a tornado, a tsunami, a hurricane? There are so many times I feel completely out of control. Working full time, a parent of three, a husband, a Sunday school teacher, a minister, trustee, parents elderly and in poor health – it’s an endless ‘spin cycle!’ And I’m fairly certain my wife has it’s worst. Oh and I added pursuing a degree to all of this.

    My center points are there. Many days I take a lunch break at a nearby forest preserve. The intent is to study, stare at the trees and when time permits, listen to inspirational lectures. Often I fall asleep and I think it’s pure exhaustion. But I don’t sweat it much. I also spend time with my two boys who are at home and long philosophical conversations with my college age daughter. I try journaling as often as possible and when time permits, I draw and paint.

    I think for me, for all the busy-ness of life, the stir of things in my life is ingrained, so the balance is finding time to appreciate my blessings. Life is GOOD!!!

  10. parrott84 Says:

    So many times in the past I volunteered to work holidays for the double pay…let me tell you, it’s still not worth it. I came home to my kids one time who were mad at me because they haven’t seen me the night before (home late) or the next morning (at work early), that made a dramatic difference. Now I am trying to fix my priorities.

  11. Jan Says:

    I like your former note, which is kind of the same thing:

    If you could only work for two hours tomorrow, what would you do?
    I suspect you would complete what was most important. We often
    confuse time with accomplishment. Maybe we just need to determine
    what is worth doing at all.

  12. Lynda Tracy Says:

    I had to come up with ways of reducing work hours and associated stress as part of the treatment for my hereditary high blood pressure. Some of the steps I took:

    1. Get call display. Not every call has to be answered!
    2. Create a VoiceMail message that says you will not be picking up calls from 800 numbers, unidentified callers, unrecognized phone numbers, or pay phones. If the caller really has any business to do with you he will say so and leave a message.
    3. Sign up for Canada’s new “Do Not Call” registry. Amazing difference. The phone no longer rings constantly.
    4. Cancel the newspaper. I don’t need to spend an hour a day reading it when the same news will turn up online.
    5. Cancel cable TV. It is much pleasanter to plan an evening watching a movie I have wanted to see. Renting a couple of new movies a month and buying the odd classic movie when they are on sale used is still less expensive than monthly cable bills, and a lot more fun!
    6. Having had two jobs to make ends meet, I dropped the most stressful job and prepared to live on less. That eliminated more than 2 hours of driving per week and the late/no payment stress of a contract position.
    7. Don’t turn on the computer to check email until the dishes are done, floor swept, beds made, meals planned and underway, personal devotional time has taken place, and some kind of exercise done. (Still working on living up to that one, but it’s getting better!)
    8. Spend some time every day stroking my cat. He’s so appreciative!
    9. Spend some down time every day knitting or crocheting. It lowers my blood pressure and makes good prayer time too. The bonus is the stack of Christmas presents I am creating.
    10. Get a nutritional assessment and find out what I am eating that stresses my body’s inner workings. Major finding: wheat raises my pulse and blood pressure and puts plaque on my teeth. If only I had discovered that before spending all that money on filling my teeth over the years! Nutritional assessment not covered by my medical plan, but worth the money. Giving up wheat products turned out to be unbelievably easy. It is so nice not to have my tummy constantly cramping and moving “air”! Definitely less stressful than the continual efforts to keep the symptoms under control! 🙂

    Success so far: blood pressure decreased from 190/110 to 140/77, without any blood pressure medication but a mild diuretic.

    Still need to work on #11, getting rid of the “night hawk” habit and getting more sleep, I’m sure that will help too!

  13. 48days Says:

    Lynda, Wow — what a great list. It’s amazing the simple things we can do when we just “decide” to make our lives better. Thanks for sharing — I’m sure it will inspire others to adopt yours or make their own helpful steps toward being “fully alive.” — Dan Miller

  14. World War Z Online Says:

    Hurrah, that’s what I was exploring for, what a data! existing here at this weblog, thanks admin of this site.

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