Success - but at what cost?

SINGAPORE - I read with interest the report ("Our Singapore Conversation survey: Majority want slower pace of life"; Monday).

A similar theme was echoed in another article on the same day ("Staying alive when working flat out").

As a clinical psychologist, I bear witness to the negative effects of work stress and burnout on a daily basis. These are related to difficulties in coping with our society's fast pace of life.

Some may argue that competitiveness and achievement-orientation are necessary ingredients for individual and societal success. However, this begs the question: But at what cost?

One obvious cost is the individual's mental well-being, which incidentally has a "rebound effect" on his ability to function effectively in the workplace. It seems to boil down to finding the right balance, as with most things in life.

I agree with sociologist Paulin Straughan's call for the Government to take the lead

in identifying the path for a more balanced work-life approach.

Societal values do not change overnight. Change requires a clear and consistent message spearheaded by key decision-makers.

To this end, it may be useful to emphasise the process (or "the how") of achieving success with minimal personal and societal costs.

After all, isn't life about the journey as much as it is about getting to the destination?

Marlene Lee (Dr)

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