Against all odds

Noth­ing can hold a per­son back if he puts his heart and soul into it.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING - By KEE SUAT DAY

EV­ERY time a new year comes around, peo­ple make new res­o­lu­tions. As ex­pected, year af­ter year, the same thing hap­pens. Within a few weeks, our res­o­lu­tions qui­etly fiz­zle out.

But I know of one per­son who stead­fastly held on to his New Year’s res­o­lu­tion, suc­cess­fully achieved it and more.

For nearly two years, af­ter the dread­ful global fi­nan­cial cri­sis, he still could not pro­vide a com­fort­able and sta­ble life for his fam­ily. He lost his job as a ma­chine op­er­a­tor af­ter 10 years with a com­pany in Prai in­dus­trial es­tate. When he found out he was laid off by the com­pany, he was shocked, lost and help­less. All of a sud­den, he no longer had the se­cu­rity of a job and a pay­check.

He did not know how to deal with the un­ex­pected loss. As a re­spon­si­ble hus­band and fa­ther, he felt dis­ap­pointed, ex­pe­ri­enced a loss of con­fi­dence and was an­gry with him­self for let­ting his fam­ily down.

For­tu­nately, at that time, he still had a sub­stan­tial amount of sav­ings in the bank ac­count. His sup­port­ive wife was there for him dur­ing his dif­fi­cult time. She coaxed him out of his re­sent­ment and en­cour­aged him to stay op­ti­mistic. In the be­gin­ning, he wan­dered from job to job with­out be­ing able to stay in one place for long.

Since he had al­ways dreamt of be­ing his own boss, he went into di­rect sales. But it did not turn out as planned, when he found out it was not that easy as promised by his re­cruiter. In the mean­time, his wife helped out by work­ing as a part time as­sis­tant in a nearby clinic. His two un­der­stand­ing school­go­ing chil­dren also did their part by cut­ting down what­ever spend­ing ex­penses they could. The fam­ily man­aged to scrape through fi­nan­cially each month.

Then, he worked as a van driver with a sta­tionery whole­sale dis­trib­u­tor, de­liv­er­ing sta­tionery prod­ucts to cus­tomers around Pe­nang is­land. The work was tax­ing and the pay was far less than what he was earn­ing be­fore. Fear­ing that he would not be gain­fully em­ployed again, he didn’t dare look around for bet­ter work prospects or ex­plore other new ar­eas. He was un­happy with him­self be­cause he felt he was wast­ing his life away with his present dead end job.

But he was not bold enough to get out from his rut, un­til one fate­ful day on New Year’s eve three years ago.

He was out on the road busy with de­liv­er­ies in Ge­orge Town and the city was grid­locked with bumper to bumper traf­fic. It was dur­ing the mas­sive traf­fic jam that he no­ticed a car sticker on the back win­dow of a ve­hi­cle in front of his van.

It read: “What’s hold­ing you back?” The ques­tion felt as if it was di­rected at him.

He started con­tem­plat­ing and asked him­self. What was hold­ing him back and why was he not do­ing any­thing about it? Then it dawned on him that it was his fear of los­ing a reg­u­lar in­come, lack of self­con­fi­dence and self­pity that had caused him to live an un­happy and un­ful­filled life.

The ques­tion on the sticker was an eye­opener for him. Since the next day was the start of a brand new year, he de­cided to make a New Year’s res­o­lu­tion to stop mak­ing ex­cuses and start tak­ing con­trol of his life. He knew change was hard, but he was de­ter­mined to make it work.

As he had al­ways wanted to go into busi­ness, he sug­gested to his wife that they start op­er­at­ing a food­stall at the food court near their home. They both knew it was a risky de­ci­sion. But af­ter much de­lib­er­a­tion, they de­cided to quit their jobs and pre­pare to work for them­selves.

In the be­gin­ning, it wasn’t easy or as promis­ing as they had en­vis­aged. For the first few months, busi­ness was slow. Some days, they made losses. At times, he felt like call­ing it quits.

He told me, the thing that kept him go­ing, was his New Year’s res­o­lu­tion. Af­ter the third month, his per­se­ver­ance and pa­tience paid off.

When the busi­ness be­gan pick­ing up, sud­denly, his wife suf­fered a mild stroke. Im­me­di­ately, he had to aban­don the thriv­ing food busi­ness to take care of his wife. It was a big blow to him, but un­de­terred, he sol­diered on. He kept telling him­self, he was not go­ing to let his neg­a­tive thoughts bring him down in the dumps again.

When his wife re­cov­ered fully, he started driv­ing a taxi around for half a year. Af­ter that, he still faced many ob­sta­cles, but he strived harder and was even more de­ter­mined to achieve his dream, to be suc­cess­fully self­em­ployed. He kept plug­ging away do­ing var­i­ous me­nial work, and even­tu­ally found his dream job as a pri­vate tourist guide.

There­after, he started a suc­cess­ful travel blog. At the same time, he helped his wife to open a home tu­ition for pri­mary school chil­dren and quit smok­ing.

He is a much hap­pier per­son now and still en­joys his work as a tour guide in Pe­nang. Noth­ing is go­ing to hold him back from liv­ing his dream. I’m truly proud of him, as he is my favourite ma­ter­nal un­cle.

This page is for heart-warm­ing and thought­pro­vok­ing sto­ries. If you have an orig­i­nal one to share, e-mail: star2.heart@thes­tar.com.my.

Illustration by FCHWan

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