Just how much should you give up to succeed in your job? (Thoughts on The Devil Wears Prada)

Andrea wanted to be a reporter, but to do that she must first work at Runway Magazine under the most impossible boss you can imagine, Miranda Priestly.

At first she was fine with just getting by, but as demands got higher, she did get pushed into doing more and more as she subconsciously wanted the approval of her boss. And the more she did a good job, the more was expected of her. And this, my friends, is the never ending cycle of corporate America. It’s a vicious cycle of eat or get eaten.  

At a certain point though, you might think to yourself, up to what point is all this work still worth it? You might not think about it that much now, but I can imagine that as you get older, time can become more and more important and all of a sudden you come to realize just how much of your life you have spent in something that you really did not want to do.

Now there is this book by Bonnie Ware called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, and there she enumerates some things that I feel are related to the things Andrea, in the Devil Wears Prada movie, realized later on.  

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
The author said that this was the most common regret, and people do come to realize it at a time when they may no longer have the luxury of health to pursue these dreams.

With this in mind, I think it’s important, in whatever stage you are in right now, to reflect if you are living a life that is true to yourself. To live a life with no excuses and no regrets, you have to make sure that the state you are in now is something that you have decided for yourself is the most positive and fulfilling direction for you. Not what your parents, family, or friends think, what you think. Only you can know what you really want, and you just have to be brave enough to grab it.  

For Andrea in the Devil Wears Prada, I believe there is such a thing as courage in quitting. When it comes down to it, she decided that she wasn’t the person her boss believed her to be. She wasn’t ready to sacrifice her principles or friends to get on top of the ladder. And after she made that decision, she was much happier for it.  

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
You know when you always do overtime, and you feel like you can’t spend any time relaxing, else everything will fall to pieces? Well, contrary to what you might think, that might probably be the best time to get a vacation. Based on actual studies, this can rejuvinate your thought process, prevent a harsh burnout, and in the grand scheme of things even lower attrition rates for companies. I guess you can say this might be the reason why secretaries of Miranda Priestly doesn’t stay very long.     

But if you are very much a wokaholic, who just makes a point of working and working, sacrificing everything else for your career, do keep in mind this fact that when people get older, no one wished that they had worked longer hours. No one. So set aside some time to think about what really is the most important for you before it’s too late.   

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
If there is something that is very much bothering you deep in the pit of your stomach, let it out, you will feel so much better for it. If it’s that important, don’t think about what others will think, will say, or will do. Society will judge you anyway, so first and foremost, be kind to yourself.

There is a related quote by Mark Twain, and it goes: Twenty years from now you will be more dissappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So have that bit of courage to step out of your shell, and remember that you should never settle for anything less than you think you could, and more importantly not because someone else think you could not do it.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
It’s so easy to get caught up with what you are doing right now that you forget about the people in your life that are actually the ones that make life worthwhile. Don’t take your friends or family for granted. If you don’t have time, make time.

In the movie, Andrea was focusing all of her time and energy in work that her relationships became rocky. She did soon realize how important these relationships were to her. And It’s good to mend these things before it’s too late.  

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This notion is intertwined with some people generally being afraid of change. They become comfortable in old habits and ways that they didn’t just get out there and experience things to laugh and be silly about. They might have been too scared about what others may think that they traded off their own happiness for it. I don’t think that’s a good way to be, and being true to yourself is the only way to live a life well lived.

So yeah, that’s some of the thoughts I got from the Devil Wear’s Prada. I do think some movies can nudge you into introspecting about your own life, and gain something positive from it.  

I do think heroine, Andrea, got it. She got to the point where she was finally recognized for her work, but that was also when she realized, it wasn’t her. And as you should hopefully know by now, no work is worth sacrificing yourself over, as in the end, you don’t want to look back at your life regretting.

So that’s it, I hope you got a bit of value from my own introspection. What do you think? Are you happy with your work? Are you currently working over time? Do let me know what you plan on doing about it.