To Get a Balanced Life

A long time ago, one of my mentors told me a story of PhD banana. To be honest, I am not an expert on Banana. Banana tree is a plant that lived once, produced very yummy fruits, and then the farmer cut it down because it will not produce anything, anymore. A story of PhD banana is a tale of once a productive PhD candidate then graduated with PhD degree full of self-complacency and deserted all the research energy within them.

According to his ideal, a PhD graduate must maintain the high spirits of research and start to increase the productivity AFTER his/her training of research (PhD studies) finished. Well, it is what he showed me, a full power and constant productivity of research. Pretty much expected from someone who has been trained in the famous super discipline environment of Japan.

And then, I am destined to follow the same path, walking the way of the PhDs. However, the life brought me to the land of down under, Australia. Here, I found the very opposite spirits. The Australians are very proud of their work-life-balance lifestyle. It is my first time seeing the monument of working 8 hours a day erected in the downtown of Melbourne. There is no much culture of overtime hours and sleepless nights.

In the case of PhDs tales, one colleague of mine who did his PhD in another part of Australia told me the story of the rubber ball and the glass ball. The candidature (PhD) is like a rubber ball, when it sometimes falls down, it will definitely bounces up, inevitably. Don’t take it so hard when your candidature took its lowest phase, take it easy, there will always a way to climb up. However, your personal life, your family, your mental health during a candidature, is as crumbly as a glass ball. When it falls down, it will break. Whatever your efforts to fix a break glass ball, it always leaves visible marks that will remind you forever. A hurt that might hunt you sometime in the future.

The Australians professors are definitely not the type of PhD banana kind of graduates. But I also admired them for their respectful way of maintaining the systems of PhDs supervisions balanced. Everyone can always achieve whatever they plan while keeping the work-life-balance lifestyle. The keys to this are commitment, consistent, and efficient. Well, you can always compare the achievement of Australia with let say, the super hardworking culture of Japan or Singapore. Not bad right?

This writing is dedicated to anyone who will join the way of PhDs, like mine. Living almost five years in Australia, make me realise that, achieving many things is great, but maintaining the systems that keep you and everyone sane is important.

Regards,

–Hilman

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