Against all odds
Nothing can hold a person back if he puts his heart and soul into it.
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.
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Illustration by FCHWan