It seems that some people do not realize that all of us have only 24 hours a day, and that things that ought to be done, will need to be done, regardless of our own individual desires.

Let’s face it. A corporation is here to make money. If it is a private limited corporation, its very existence is to make money for its shareholders. If it is public-listed, then it needs to make money even more ferociously to conform to the desires of all the major shareholders, even if it means deviating from the personal dreams of its founders.

And here’s the dichotomy – it seems that many young people want to have their notion of “work-life balance” the very day they start work, regardless of what a corporation might think. Some chief executives of corporations are astonished that such an idea actually exists in the minds of these young people, as opposed to those older workers who will always place sufficient priority to the work at hand.

Life is not that complicated. We have 24 hours a day. We need around 6 to 8 hours of sleep per day, depending on how much you intend to drain your health. Let’s say we spend time to travel and to eat a decent meal, that would leave somewhere between 13 to 15 hours per day to use.

If one intends to stay in a junior or entry-level position, with no ambition to go further and therefore no reason for promotions or remuneration improvements, then he (or she) can work around 7 hours per day, and spend up to 8 hours a day to enjoy life as it is, whether it be simply relaxing, getting entertained, learning a language, or refining a hobby. This life may persist until he decides to start a family, and then the kids consume his personal hours.

But if one has studied for a particular field and intend to progress into executive positions, then time is no longer all his own. It comes with the territory.

For example, if you are a manager, a director, or a vice president holding down an important portfolio, working through your personal hours to the bone is not uncommon, especially since you may need to travel around the region or even across the globe, spending hours and days at airports and hotels, and having conference or video calls in strange hours due to differing time zones. The perks are there, the money is much better, and you get to manage teams of people to hone your leadership skills – all good things, but at the expense of your own personal time. You can decide if you want to live up to your own ambitions, or be content with a simpler life and command your personal hours. You cannot have the cake and eat it.

Respect is a strange thing. It is mutual. One cannot expect another person to respect him intrinsically, until and unless he respect the other person first. One needs to earn that respect, usually over long periods of time. Therefore, to demand as a spoilt brat of another person or entity, without first putting in equitable hard work, commitment and results, will be a tough pill for others to swallow. One only need to ask, “what’s in it for me?” and realize that he would be hearing an echo from others, asking the same.

So, is there such a thing as “work-life balance”? Yes, definitely! It is up to one to choose a simpler life and fulfill many personal goals unrelated to a less ambitious career, or scale the ambitions of a soaring career and know that personal time is sucked away. And if one chooses to have a family, then work will suffer, and invariably, one has to adjust materialistic and time expectations downwards, rather than expect the perks of life to remain the same.