但美國人也不遑多讓。據國際工會（International Labor Organization）最近調查報告，美國人的工時比日本人更長，高踞工業國家榜首。該報告說，美國工人平均每年工作1966小時，在1980年平均是1833小時，日本人同年平均工作2100小時，現下滑至每年平均1889小時。美國人則在1993年迎頭趕上。相較之下，法國人、德國人的工時較短，平均每年分別為1656及1574小時。
上述統計想是指藍領和白領，行政和專業人士工時更長。根據一個幫忙各公司物色主管人才的機構（Management Recruiters International）所做的調查報告顯示，在5000名受訪的管理階層人士中，82%休息時不忘工作（如渡假時處理業務）。不少人在周末及假期上班，或利用手提電話和傳呼機遙控。不少人渡假時有罪疚感。他們覺得，如想出人頭地，就非加倍努力不可。至於是否做到自己身心力交瘁及犧牲家人，就一概不管。設若夫妻二人同時忙得天昏地暗，這個家可想是家不成家。
I originally wrote this article for ProMinistry in English:
WORK TILL YOU DROP
I recall the years before my own early retirement, when on average I worked 80-100 hours a week. Carrying work home was a ritual. Bringing work and mobile phone while vacationing with the family was a given. Ironically, it was only during long overseas flights that I was able to have a few hours’ time for quiet relaxation. Being from Hong Kong where people rush around even though they are not late (or not going any where in particular), I was a consummate Type-A Workaholic. It was in my nature to be fiercely competitive in everything I did. I remember even when I was exercising by swimming laps in a local gym, I had to beat the stranger who was innocently swimming in the next lane! Later on I abandoned the relatively non-competitive sport of recreational swimming, and was hooked on the faster and more competitive game of squash.
No doubt I was only one of many millions of Type-A Workaholics whose addiction in life is their WORK. I was told that Japan is full of these people, and there is even a special term for suicide from overwork – “karojisatsu". But Americans are quickly catching up. A recent report by the International Labor Organization discovered that Americans work the longest hours in the industrialized world, even overtaking the Japanese. The report says on average American workers 1,966 hours each year, compared to an average of 1,833 in 1980. The Japanese only work an average of 1,889 hours, having dropped from 2,100 hours a year in 1980. The report pointed out that American workers overtook the Japanese counterparts sometime during 1993. (Harvard professor Juliet Schor must have sensed this, when she published her book titled “The Overworked American" in 1992). In contrast, French and German workers have always worked less hours than the Americans, averaging only 1,656 and 1,574 hours each year, respectively.
The above statistics probably include mostly blue-collar and office workers. Management executives and professionals most likely work even longer hours. In another survey of 5,000 executives conducted by Management Recruiters International, 82% said they mix business with pleasure (i.e. taking work with them when they are on holidays). Many Americans have put in extra hours during the weekends and holidays, or at least maintain contacts with their work place by beepers and mobile phones. I believe many would feel guilty for taking some time off. They feel that in order to get ahead they must work harder and harder, even if this means bringing incredible physical and mental stress to themselves and their families. If both husband and wife work these breakneck hours, one can imagine the stress their work brings to their marriage.
Turning to the booming Silicon Valley, I was told by some software-engineer friends that they consistently work an average of over 120 hours a week. Everybody is thinking: times are good now; job market is tight — it is now or never. Surely the rising income, more upscale homes and stock options are attractive. This is the time to make every move to bolster your career and your personal net worth. But the experience of many who make tremendous sacrifices to further their careers is that while they are working and earning more, they are enjoying it less. It is not surprising — how can one begin to enjoy life or to enjoy the fruit of one’s labor if one can’t even find the time to do so?
The sacrifice a workaholic makes is tremendous, and often times the damages being inflicted upon oneself and the family is irreparable. Medical journals have long warned that excessive stress is a quiet killer. Think about the busy executive who is struck by a fatal heart attack at age 48. Or the hot-shot programmer who is burned out age 32. Or the son of the workaholic executive who gets into drugs and crimes because of parental neglect. For Christians parents, there is no greater tragedy than to bring children into this world, only to have their souls end up being lost eternally. How can one compensate such loss by gaining another zero in the net worth column, or a doubling of the stock option shares?
“No one on their deathbed has wished that they had spent more hours at the office". We need to have clear priorities in our lives, and working until we drop is often our own choice rather than a company requirement. The greatest obstacle is ourselves — our pride, our sense of insecurity, and our all-consuming desire to enhance our careers and financial standing. The solution for some is to re-set their priorities in life. For some, it could mean voluntarily cut down on work hours. For others, it could mean foregoing the next promotion. But above all, the solution must be a spiritual one : finding the true God of the Universe, accepting His Son as your personal savior and committing your life toGod Kingdom. Make God your priority in life. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33).