By Susan V. Ople

One of my favorite songs (for now) is Bruno Mars’s “The Lazy Song.”

The song goes: “Today, I don’t feel like doing anything. I just wanna lay on my bed. Don’t feel like picking up the phone so just leave a message at the tone. Today, I swear I’m not doing anything.”

Sarap naman!

Don’t you wish we had more of those days? Better yet, wouldn’t it be simply splendid to be able to declare holidays for one’s self? Unfortunately, those of us who have to earn our keep can’t simply shut the door, lock it, and hide under the covers. We need to work, work, and work some more.

If we don’t, then the bills keep piling up – electric and water bills, weekly groceries, rent, cable television, mobile phone credits, and the list just goes on and on. The truth is despite the number of hours of nonstop work, the demands for cash have no way to go but up.

This is why it is important to exert more effort and careful planning towards financial security. We must earn the right to be lazy from time to time because we can afford it. To do that, we (yes, me included) must understand the power of saying No.

No to frivolous spending! No to buying stuff that you don’t need simply because it’s on sale! No to foodie sessions where you pay not just for yourself but also for the friend beside you! And no, no, and no to demands for money from members of the family who have abused your generosity time and time again.

From saving to spending and everything in between, it pays to know one’s priorities in life. I say that financial security can only come if a person enjoys what he or she is doing so much, that saving becomes an absolute joy to do. Or, saving money becomes a step toward fulfilling a desired goal, a forward-looking destination, and the freedom to choose a preferred lifestyle.

I think that more Filipinos especially our overseas Filipino workers must learn the art of designing one’s life. Often enough, we let the demands of our family dictate on and shape our lives. But guess what, brothers and sisters? We each have but one life to live. Doesn’t it make sense that we live our lives according to our own dreams and wishes?

Here’s a specific example. Myrna Padilla of Davao City worked as a domestic worker in Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong for 20 years. She used her days-off to enroll in a computer class while in Hong Kong.

Today, Myrna runs her own business process outsourcing company known as Mynd Consulting. Was that by sheer accident? No. Myrna, who incidentally has no college degree, designed her life to be exactly what she wanted it to be. Her company designs Google and Facebook applications and even sends her employees as scholars to Sweden. Who would have guessed this to be possible? Myrna did. She believed in herself and never looked for an excuse to wallow in self-pity or take shortcuts.

My dream as a young girl was to be a writer one day. I love writing! I would read books about writing and devoured books like pistachio nuts to learn the kind of writing style I enjoyed the most. I had my own journal. I wrote poems. And wherever I was, I would stick to my writing, bringing a laptop with me like all writers nowadays do.

Thanks to Laura Perez and other noble people behind this magazine, I now write for you. Was this all by accident? Nope. I designed my life this way.

You have the power to design your life. The first step is to know what you want. You have to know and feel and ache for that special something that defines you as you. A half-hearted dream is not a dream but a fleeting wish. Once you know what it is that you want out of life, then go out there and fight for it.

You can learn anything. You can be that person who you think you are. The word “aspire” knows no boundaries.

But know who you are, and work hard for that dream of yours. You have but one life. Go live it. Go plan it. Go shape it.

Design your life. God gave you life to lead not to lend to someone else.

I bet some of you are saying but it’s not that easy. We have obligations to fulfill! To that my answer is, you and I will never run out of obligations to God, country, and our fellowmen. Not excluding our jobless next-of-kin.

But when will you start taking care of yourself? And who will take care of you when you no longer have the strength to help everyone else out?



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