June 23, 2017

You Just Seem to Work Hard

The following is a guest post by Yan Tang.

Photo: Yan Tang
Recently I have finished reading a Chinese book that went viral in 2015 after publish. It talks about many different millennials' stories with topics about dreams, youth and relationships. The author is a millennial and his book has inspired thousands of other millennials in China. With curiosity, I bought this book in early 2016 right before coming to United States, in a hope of learning something special from a young writer's perspectives. Interestingly, his book did not excite me as I expected and many of those stories are very unrealistic. However, I did resonate one topic very much: you just seem to work hard, but you didn't do your best.

Many times, you give others an impression that you are very busy, staying long hours in the library with a pile of books. You stay up late to meet assignment deadlines and even don't have time hang out with friends. For outsiders, they assume you must be a good student with excellent grades as you work so hard. However, you are still not the top five students even if you spend your day and night in the library or you keep yourself busy all the time. Why?

Photo: Yan Tang
Because when in the library, you still cannot leave your phone alone and you can't help to check your WeChat, Facebook or Twitter from time to time. You keep your laptop open but actually you are browsing some websites that are irrelevant to your homework. You take a selfie and post on social media showing how hard you work. Even if sitting in the library all day long, you are not really focusing on reading or finishing assignment but indulge in playing your electronic products or updating your Facebook or Twitter. You thought you could to get extra resources for school, so you visited Amazon to buy lots of books, downloaded lots of materials from internet. But you end up reading nothing except letting them sitting somewhere covered with dust. In a word, you just seem to work hard; you are busy but inefficient.

Many people especially millennials (including myself) have this in common, but actually no one has ever articulated it or pointed it out. I was a little shocked after reading this book as it happens to me all the time. For example, a 2-hour assignment, it will take me six hours to complete as I will get distracted by the phone or doing something irrelevant. It seems like I work hard by spending six hours doing assignment, but in fact, it is simply inefficient. 

The reason I am writing this is to remind myself of becoming a real hard-worker: when you are at work, work efficiently and productively. Now I am at a turning point of writing the next chapter of my life by starting a new venture, and hard work is a must. But first and foremost, I have to get rid of that habit--"you just seem to work hard." I can't do the business research well if I keep updating Facebook or reviewing WeChat moments every five minutes. As for entrepreneurs: every hour matters, my advisor, Aaron Rose, says.

Yan Tang serves as President and CEO of CareerLight, LLC, a Seattle, Wash.-based company that provides customized career training for international students to help them prepare for a successful career.

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