Posts Tagged ‘karoshi’

Don’t be one of the “Hodo Zoho”

November 4, 2008

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”