Why do young people nowadays prefer to have a lower salary but live comfortably without being too exhausted?

Many people would rather work in a small company office where they can slack off every day, earn a monthly salary of four to five thousand, than go for higher-paying jobs with overtime.

The essence of “lying flat” is to live in the present, to live for today.

The essence of striving is to place hope in the future, to live for tomorrow.

So, the fundamental question is—who has taken away the young people’s hope for the future.

Because relying on a salary from a job 1) can’t lift you out of poverty, 2) can’t make you wealthy, and 3) can’t benefit your family and friends, it’s meaningless.

Because capitalists now exploit not only during the day but also at night

It really can be lethal

Attitudes of Young People towards Work and Life

This may not represent the thoughts and attitudes of all young people.

It can be understood that some young people cannot find high-paying jobs, so they have to work at small companies and take a laid-back approach.

If given the opportunity to earn a high salary, not many would easily refuse it, unless they truly don’t need the money.

It can also be understood as a way to ensure happiness, which is why they maintain a laid-back attitude towards their careers.

After all, working tirelessly may not necessarily lead to achieving their desired expectations.

Young people have their own perceptions and have seen through the harsh realities of the workplace, which is why they give up on the rat race.

Because they will realize that no matter how hard they work, they can still be laid off for optimization, so they prefer to take it easy and avoid exhausting themselves.

In the workplace, all the decision-making power lies in the hands of the capitalists, and the workers have no choice.

When they need you, you have to work overtime, but when they don’t, they can let you go at any moment.

There is also another situation where many young people pursue side jobs. Choosing a low-paying job is about gaining freedom in their spare time.

On one hand, it allows them to live comfortably and have more time to enjoy life. On the other hand, it gives them the freedom to do what they want without constraints.

If their side job becomes successful, they naturally won’t pay much attention to their main job income. They just need to ensure the stability of their main job, pay their social security on time, and leave work on schedule, which is already satisfying.

Of course, this is similar to those with favorable family conditions, as they may only need a job out of necessity.

They don’t need to put in much effort for this job; they just need to have a job to solve their life experiences.

Economic Principles Behind Overtime and Skill Development

A few years ago, I analyzed overtime, and back then, many people dismissed it. Today, I’m reposting it to see the effects.

On a badminton court, the most common players are “street butterfly” types, and their skill level is at level 0.

What do you think is the most common skill level after level 0?

It’s not level 1 or level 2; it’s level 4.

Normally, skill levels should follow a normal distribution, so why is there a sharp drop in the middle?

This is rooted in a profound economic principle - marginal returns.

The reason why “street butterfly” players never improve is due to a cognitive blind spot. Most of them don’t know that badminton is a competitive sport. In their minds, the goal is to keep the shuttlecock in play for as long as possible, thinking that more rallies make them better.

A few know the rules but believe that achieving a high level requires exceptional talent, which they think they lack, so they give up.

Once they break through this cognitive barrier and realize that they can become skilled badminton players, they start systematic training. Starting with their grip and footwork, they learn techniques like clears, drops, lobs, net shots, and smashes. There are numerous skills to master initially.

Every newly acquired skill gives them a sense of achievement that keeps them excited for days. As they polish their skills and make continuous improvements, the excitement can last for months.

During this period, the marginal returns are significant, and they focus solely on training. Soon, their technical details are well-refined, and they reach about level 4.

To progress further, they need to invest a considerable amount of time in repetitive practice, which can be tedious. Consequently, the marginal returns decrease sharply.

However, there is still one challenging skill left to master: the backhand. Even though the marginal returns are small, it’s better than nothing. Some level 4 players attempt to break through with the backhand, and once they do, they usually reach level 5.

But from level 5 onwards, there are no new skills to learn, only endless refinement of details, and the marginal returns drop to almost zero.

This is why you occasionally see level 5 players, but level 6 players are extremely rare, leading many clubs to offer free memberships to level 6 players.

A similar principle applies to the Chinese workplace.

Starting with the internet boom in 2000 and the mobile internet boom in 2008, a saying emerged: “Even a pig can fly when standing on the wind.” This changed the perception of young Chinese people, making them realize that wealth and financial freedom could be achieved through hard work in this era.

With internet companies repeatedly raising salaries, the marginal returns for overtime became extremely high. Looking at history, there have been few eras where an ordinary person could become wealthy through sheer hard work. The decade from 2010 to 2020 in China was such an era.

Simultaneously, the marginal cost of overtime approached zero because most people had few hobbies and interests outside of work. Even without overtime, they would spend their free time browsing social media or playing games. The opportunity cost was nearly non-existent.

With money to be made through overtime and nothing else to do in their free time, why wouldn’t people choose to work overtime?

However, as individual circumstances vary, you may not agree with this perspective. But as a whole, in a relatively free market environment, people’s behavior tends to align with economic principles. Such collective behavior is not easily swayed by individual will; otherwise, it wouldn’t be a principle.

According to these principles, we can boldly predict that overtime in China will significantly decrease in the coming decade. The mobile internet boom has subsided, and the next wave has yet to appear. The post-2000 and post-2010 generations, growing up with diverse hobbies and a colorful life, will have higher opportunity costs for overtime.

With diminishing marginal returns and rising opportunity costs, no one wants to engage in a losing game. That’s just how the world operates.

There are many other real-life cases like this, and I’ll discuss them in the future. If you’re interested, feel free to follow along.

Anyway, you probably won’t read this even if you bookmark it, so just give it a like if you’d like…

Don’t Pretend to Be Young Here!

Most of those who work 996/007 in big companies are young people.

Only young people can endure such a schedule.

As people age, they tend to opt for a more laid-back lifestyle, and it’s a natural phenomenon.

Their bodies and energy levels just can’t keep up.

In reality, young people in this society don’t have much of a choice.

It’s 996/007 with high pay or 955 with basic needs met.

The majority choose the former, while a few with no financial pressures or family wealth choose the latter.

Of course, some have no choice and must settle for 996 with low pay.

Those who can have 955 with high pay are the top few or some leaders.

Many who are willing to work at small companies are not necessarily avoiding big companies; they just can’t get into big companies.

Even when they opt for a laid-back approach, doing so in a big company is much more profitable than in a small one.

In fact, some top foreign companies offer very comfortable working conditions.

For example, take Hulu, which used to provide excellent conditions until recent changes led to the separation of its core business.

In recent years in China, there have been some foreign companies that offered good benefits and followed labor laws. However, as they left, compliance with labor laws decreased, and everyone’s lives became even more exhausting.

While there are indeed some young people living a laid-back lifestyle, the vast majority are not quite able to do so.

Don’t Dampen the Spirits of Young People

The conclusion that “I’d rather have a lower salary than work so hard” doesn’t necessarily represent all young people.

This greatly depends on the work environment each individual is in. In my view, many young people still choose to strive and accumulate wealth in the early stages of their lives.

For instance, everyone knows that working in the internet industry can be tough and competitive, but many young graduates still aspire to work for internet giants. They are willing to endure the hardships because they want to learn and gain some credentials in a big-name company.

Likewise, those who migrate to cities like Beijing, Shenzhen, or Shanghai in pursuit of their dreams have usually done their research and are mentally prepared before embarking on their journeys. They are warriors who knowingly face challenges.

Then there are many young people who could live comfortably in small towns, secure stable jobs in their hometowns, but choose to broaden their horizons and explore the world. They believe that life should be about experiencing and leaving a mark, without regrets.

People who choose to adopt a laid-back attitude have various reasons. Some have tried their best and accepted reality, some lack the resources to compete and settle for smaller opportunities, while others simply don’t want to strive, nor do they want others to.

The motivations for choosing to be laid-back vary.

Therefore, please do not discourage young people or impose a laid-back rhythm on them. Persuading or even intimidating them to stay in their comfort zones is not the solution.

In fact, from a broader perspective, societal progress and development depend on those who strive, even if you are just a laborer at the bottom of society, you are still making contributions in subtle ways. On a smaller scale, if you want to climb the ladder and achieve success in your personal life, striving is the inevitable path. After all, most people do not have the privilege of being born into wealth or power.

Each social stratum has its own pressures, and not all second-generation offspring choose a laid-back lifestyle. After working and interacting with some of them, it’s clear that many still work tirelessly every day, seeking to earn more money. In their circles, relying on their families is not seen as an honorable thing.

The current job market is tough, and not only is it difficult to find work, but the rights of workers are also not well protected. The reasons behind this include economic conditions, policy gaps, and poor enforcement at the grassroots level. However, it cannot be denied that these problems are universal, affecting everyone. In the future, whether these problems can be solved or not, they will eventually be overshadowed by the wheels of history.

However, life is personal and unique, and you only get one chance. You cannot gamble with your life in an uncertain world. You cannot predict whether problems will be resolved, and you cannot control when they will be resolved. So, even if you wait for that day when you are in a fair and just world, you may not be able to keep up with the pace of the new era. You’ve been laid back for too long, and during that time, you may have been eliminated.

You may see laying back as a form of protest and consider it cool…

Some young people always arrogantly pit their fragile bodies against the world.

Lu Xun once wrote in “Hot Wind,” “If there’s no torch after this, then I will be the only light.” However, if you choose to be laid back, you will never become that beacon, and you might not even illuminate your own life.

Let’s Be Honest About High Salaries

Come on, it’s almost the Lunar New Year, can we just be honest and stop pretending? Tell me, are you unable to get a high salary, or do you not want one?

All year round, we hear questions like “Why are young people today XXXXX?” People throw around phrases like “young people today,” as if it represents the thoughts and emotions of an entire generation. The emotions of a few are forced to represent the thoughts of all young people.

If you randomly ask a well-known young person, do they want a high-paying job? Are they willing to work a low-paying job if they can earn a high salary?

The people asking these questions should also reflect on themselves. Are they willing to take a high-paying job? Would they choose a low-paying job when they can earn a high salary?

Writers, you’ve been at it for a year now; it’s time to take a break.

Why Does the Tortoise Win in the Race Against the Hare?

Apart from the hare’s arrogance, the most important reason is the hare’s willingness to adopt a “lying flat” attitude.

The hare could have ended the race at any time and even aimed for faster speeds. Even if it didn’t compete with lions, cheetahs, or impalas in terms of speed, theoretically, its goal should at least be to become the best among the hares.

However, the hare perceives its competitor as the tortoise, and it believes that as long as it’s faster than the tortoise, it’s enough. So, whether it wins or loses against the tortoise, it may not necessarily run very fast within its own kind. The hare may feel that if it wins, it will have to pursue stronger opponents, and if it loses, it will be frustrated. It’s more comfortable for the hare to simply ignore winning or losing and choose the most comfortable way to end the race.

The phenomenon and viewpoints of young people adopting a “lying flat” attitude are somewhat similar to the philosophy of “The Tortoise and the Hare.”

Some people strongly oppose the “lying flat” state of young people. They always feel that young people sit in air-conditioned offices, play games, chat, and surf the internet every day, accept a decent salary, and start to lose their drive. They don’t want to make an effort and don’t want to compete with others. They see this as a lack of responsibility for their own lives. They believe that as long as they work hard every day, they can surpass those young people who choose to “lie flat,” whether they start later or learn more slowly.

However, many young people feel that they have also tried to compete with their peers and join the race. They’ve realized that no matter how hard they work, they end up becoming tools for their bosses. Working “more” doesn’t necessarily result in “more” in a short time, and they don’t know when they will break through. They’d rather choose a comfortable way to work.

In essence, as long as they have the material foundation, their desire to win or lose in the workplace is not so high. It’s perfectly reasonable for young people to choose to “lie flat” when they have decent conditions and don’t feel a significant pressure to catch up with their peers. They don’t care as much about salary or job positions when they don’t feel they are in a bad situation or under significant pressure in their life and work.

Those who say this must think that both small companies and high-paying enterprises are fools.

It’s quite simple, isn’t it?

Why are you so tired?

At the age of thirty, high blood pressure.

At the age of thirty-five, neurasthenia.

At the age of forty, high blood lipids.

At the age of forty-five, gout.

At the age of fifty, diabetes.

At the age of fifty-five, overwork obesity.

At the age of sixty, alcoholic liver disease.

At the age of sixty-five, lumbar, shoulder, and cervical vertebrae diseases.

Are you earning a lot?

Aren’t all the fatigue-related issues you’re experiencing just for the hospital’s benefit?

I dare not say that young people working in small companies won’t get these diseases for sure, but I dare say that if they do, it’s because of their own choices and not because they were forced by work.

The Non-Linear Relationship Between Income and Happiness

Many people used to believe that “the higher the income, the happier the life,” but numerous surveys have shown completely different results. The individuals who report the highest levels of happiness in society exhibit a “bottom-heavy distribution” when it comes to income.

For instance, in the 2021 CCTV Economic Survey of the “Chinese Good Life,” people’s happiness levels in various provinces and cities were investigated. The conclusion was that those with an annual income of “¥120,000 to ¥200,000” reported the highest happiness levels, followed by those with an annual income of ¥300,000.

This is because, although “income” is considered a goal by many, the increase in income itself can only provide a short-lived sense of happiness. More significant happiness requires “consumption.”

However, consumption is not merely about “spending money” or “splurging.” It is best done in a relaxed state, with family and friends, in areas of life that interest you, to create lasting “enjoyment.”

Excessively busy work, on the other hand, may increase “income” but deprive individuals of the time and mindset to “enjoy consumption,” leading to a high level of stress and a reduction in the experience of “happiness.”

In fact, many workplace surveys show a highly correlated curve between workplace stress and happiness.

For individuals with an annual income of ¥100,000 or less, stress is minimal, with a trough around ¥300,000 in income. However, it’s important to note that these two groups are not the same. Those with an annual income of ¥300,000 typically need to be at the middle management level or higher in ordinary companies, and they are relatively fewer in number.

Those earning ¥100,000 or less are often ordinary salaried workers in cities below the third-tier, living close to their hometowns and leading stable lives without the need to work in large cities.

In other words, those earning ¥100,000 or less “have nothing to fear,” while those earning around ¥300,000 “are content with their position in the workplace.” Those who earn more bear greater responsibilities, while those who earn less may experience anxiety due to a decrease in income.

This is because in the workplace, almost 70% of stress comes from the worker’s own “satisfaction with themselves” rather than external pressure.

Regardless of gender, the primary source of psychological stress in the workplace is dissatisfaction with the “current career situation,” leading to anxiety and emotional exhaustion. Dissatisfaction with job goals, leisure time, and interpersonal relationships follows.

For most employees, it’s actually better to “aim lower than to strive for the unattainable.”

In other words, if you are “stuck” with a monthly salary above ¥100,000 and can’t break through to the middle management level with a salary of ¥300,000, you are likely to experience the most stress and inner turmoil.

Those who can advance and have a stable position in their job will naturally reach a new “comfort zone.” Otherwise, they may consider settling for a lower income but with a lot of free time to enjoy life.

Furthermore, when it comes to choosing “stress relief methods,” most people in the workplace choose “exercise and travel.”

This aligns perfectly with the science of stress reduction, which involves “aerobic activities” and “changing the environment.”

Aerobic exercise can produce “endorphins,” which are more helpful for stress reduction than anaerobic exercise. Changing the environment in the workplace can isolate oneself from stressors and create a relaxed mood.

Endorphins are endogenous opioid neuropeptides. They can bind to opioid receptors, producing a sense of well-being and having analgesic effects, often referred to as “feel-good hormones.”

In 2024, if you feel “stuck with limited upward mobility, constantly worried about sliding backward, and experiencing emotional exhaustion,” short-term stress reduction methods include running or other aerobic activities and planning a trip.

In the long run, consider actively choosing a position with lower income but plenty of free time, and pursue hobbies as a side gig to supplement your income. This might be the path to a more comfortable and free career.

Stay tuned for more intriguing ideas.

How can one find what they truly love and excel at, and use it to plan their life? During the procurement process, I had already reached an agreement with Zhang San, but suddenly Li Si offered a better price or quality. How can I gracefully decline Zhang San? When I invited my colleagues and leaders for a meal, another colleague suddenly brought out two bottles of Maotai. What should I do?

Awakening Era - Li Dazhao:

“We must work 8 hours a day,

Because we have no time to think.

We must implement an 8-hour workday,

We must smell the fragrance of flowers, we must bask in the sun.

We strive for an 8-hour workday, 8 hours of rest,

The remaining 8 hours are for ourselves.”

Not entirely true. If you can create enticing prospects, many young people are still willing to work hard.

Especially those who are deeply immersed in their studies and have a strong specialization.

In highly technical fields, professionals tend to focus solely on their expertise, often lacking social awareness, and they don’t have the time or interest to look up.

However, even in such cases, the ability of leaders to paint a rosy picture must keep up with the progress of the times.

To Struggle or Lie Flat

The constant dilemma between lying flat and striving hard often leads to exhaustion. Why complicate simple matters?

If your expectations for the future, when multiplied by the risk factor, exceed the present, then strive; otherwise, lie flat.

Is it worthwhile to work to the point of sudden death, especially when the gains may not even cover medical expenses?

Balancing ambition and preserving one’s well-being is the essence of this “struggle.”

Many would rather accept a lower salary to lead a comfortable life, reflecting the growing awareness of costs in today’s society.

Calculating the risk factor remains uncertain, with most people relying on intuition, which introduces the risk of misjudgment.

People often find themselves torn between the desire to strive and the fear of failure, or the wish to lie flat and the apprehension of making the wrong choice.

Indecision leads to chaos, trapping many individuals, including myself, in a cycle of envy and relief, wasting their lives in hesitation between action and resignation.

The Choices and Realities of Young People

Come on, young people! Is there any research data to support this claim? What percentage of young people would prefer a lower salary for a comfortable life? And what age groups are we talking about? Is it the 22-26-year-olds fresh out of school, or the 27-32-year-olds with some workplace experience? Even those aged 28-35 are considered youthful in their careers!

According to a survey by “First Financial Journal” of over 4,000 recent graduates in 2022, approximately 75% of young people are willing to work hard and accept reasonable overtime. In other words, three out of four young individuals are very willing to put in effort and keep improving themselves.

Of course, the job market hasn’t been ideal in recent years. Especially in the first two quarters of 2023, one out of every five young people couldn’t find a job. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that young people are unwilling to work hard or seek high-paying jobs. It’s more likely that there aren’t as many high-paying, high-value, high-growth jobs available. Therefore, some may temporarily choose to “lie flat” to plan their next move.

After all, how many young people have the luxury of financial security and never have to worry about money? The vast majority of young people still need to earn a living and provide for their families. This means they are destined to work hard in their lifetime.

Of course, there are also some young people who see through the harsh reality. They feel that no matter how hard they work, they can’t escape exploitation and don’t want their lives to be controlled. They seek a simpler and more comfortable life, aligning with the trend of diversification in society.

Some young people manage their primary jobs and use their spare time and energy after work to pursue their interests, whether it’s a side hustle, personal hobbies, or learning new skills. They are not willing to stake their entire life on a job that could be optimized at any moment.

The younger generation doesn’t necessarily want to follow a linear life path for their entire lives. They don’t want to conform and live according to someone else’s plan, unlike the older generation. This is the awakening of the young generation, and it’s perfectly understandable.

Furthermore, life is long, and choosing to relax for now doesn’t mean a lifetime of idleness. One day, responsibilities will come, and life’s pressures will arrive as expected, prompting everyone to take action. After all, it’s responsibilities that keep people firmly grounded.

The Grind and Realities of Work

Capital is a machine that feeds on human flesh and drinks human blood.

If you want to make money, you have to exchange it with your life!

Nine years ago, an internet company headhunted me. They offered a good salary and position.

I had dinner with the major shareholders three times. On the third occasion, I chose to meet them at 10 PM. The company had over 100 employees, brightly lit, and serving late-night snacks.

The young CEO was brimming with confidence, with a smirk of triumph on his lips.

We had dinner until 1 AM, and the executives continued to work overtime.

I finally had an awakening:

For this kind of money, it’s a matter of life and death!

I already had a daughter.

I wanted to live to see my daughter get married and have children. What’s the real meaning of life’s struggle?

A Porsche? A Rolls-Royce Phantom?

A mansion? A luxurious villa?

Marrying a rich beauty, becoming a CEO, pampering myself with salt? Whatever it may be,

—Survival comes first!

Six years later, during a medical check-up, I had to take an electrocardiogram three times, and none of them looked good.

The young doctor said, “Lie down, relax, lie quietly for 10 minutes, think about something beautiful, and then we’ll do the final measurement.” I lay on the bed, watching the young people beside me, all excited and lining up for their pre-employment physicals. In my heart, I had mixed feelings. When I was in my twenties, I was a workaholic.

I slept at 2 AM every day. Then, I woke up at 7 AM for a business trip to Harbin.

I didn’t even accompany my wife when she was hospitalized due to illness. Before we got married, she spent over 9,000 on a commemorative dinner, but I couldn’t attend because of a meeting.

In Shandong, I had a strategy that the boss asked me to change on the spot. I worked tirelessly for two days and nights without rest, and my face turned pale.

To make me work hard, the boss publicly declared that I was his successor. His successor. Haha, at that time, I did make money: after completing a project, the boss gave me a down payment for a car. But if I earned two or three million for you on a project, how much is the car worth?

From Nanjing to Beijing, what I bought was worth less than what I sold. I don’t recommend young people to work in mature companies.

Do something on the side.

Endure inefficient meetings.

Flatter unethical leaders.

A colleague of mine had been working overtime for over twenty years.

Three years ago, he had a brain tumor.

He sold his big house and bought a smaller one.

He cashed out over a million and had brain surgery at the Temple of Heaven Hospital.

Then, he saved his life but ended up with a crooked mouth and eye. He went back to his hometown in the south to recover. Is a crooked mouth and eye the fate of urban professionals?

The intensity of work for marketing and planning professionals is no less than that of internet professionals.

In 2012, I was in Shanghai.

My boss called me at 2 AM and ordered me to come to the office to work on a project.

In the early morning of Shanghai at 2 AM, the taxi driver was an elderly Shanghai native with white hair. He drove while looking at me in the rearview mirror and sighed.

He said, “The country owes young people an apology.”

Haha, it’s okay.

We owe our parents.

We also owe our wives, children, and first loves. We owe ourselves even more.

The lives of young people are a series of apologies.

The boss doesn’t love you.

If you die, the boss won’t miss you.

He misses his valuation, revenue, and mistress. He won’t miss you.

You’re just a fallen leaf.

As Lu Xun once said, “The joys and sorrows of humans are not the same, and the boss just thinks you guys are noisy.”

Fifteen years ago, a 28-year-old designer died of exhaustion in the office.

He had been working late nights continuously, and his heart gave out. His parents,

two elderly retired workers with white hair,

each held a bamboo pole and hung a black banner with powerful strokes of black ink written by the old man himself:

“Give back my daughter’s life.” Later, it seemed to be settled privately, with a payout of 300,000.

You see, with money in hand, this is what they call “fortune."

A programmer from Tsinghua, who worked tirelessly on coding, finally finished a project on time after two days. So he happily went to the restroom, but when he exerted himself, his heart gave out.

Look, that’s also considered fortune.

There’s also a woman in her forties who came from one of the Big Four firms, a native of Hangzhou, still single at 40.

She was beautiful and knowledgeable, with an EMBA from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

She came to Beijing to work as a vice president at a tech company,

and her heart gave out as well.

She had been used to being squeezed dry,

and even at the tech company, she worked until late at night every day.

No one forced her to work late at night,

but if she didn’t, she felt like she owed her company and her superiors, which made her feel uneasy.

The company had some humanity left and held a memorial service for her.

Beautiful photos were displayed, and the women in her department cried their hearts out.

They cried for the older sister, for themselves, and for the lives of the working class. At this moment, the pain was more like the anguish of leeks.

It’s the leeks who weep when the rabbit dies, not the reaper,

and certainly not the combine harvester.

The rapid development of the national economy

depends on whom?

Is it climbing mountains, chasing girls, flaunting one’s emotions as a property developer?

Is it the “wealth under the sun” that the internet giants boast about?

In this world, there are only two kinds of entities:

one is the sickle, and the other is the leek.

The sickle says to the leek,

“We are heartbroken, we love you, and we miss you deeply.”

Can you guess what the leek thinks? The leek would think, “Enough with the talk, give me the money first; I have a mortgage payment due tomorrow.”

In Beijing, what you earn is spent in Beijing; you can’t even think about taking something back home.

But with money, at least you can survive, have the right to mate, vent your frustrations, have a full meal, get drunk and curse, and then continue to be harvested. As for having little leeks? That’s impossible.

The career lifespan of a working person is much shorter than you might imagine. For example, graduating with a master’s degree at 24, you have to endure for ten years to have a chance to earn a high salary.

What is a high salary? — Earning in one year what you earned in the first nine years combined is what constitutes a high salary.

At this point, you feel accomplished, earning well, having a decent job, and moderate stress. However, after three to five years of earning, around the age of 35, you get laid off by your boss, and you can never find a job like that again…

Don’t laugh; this is true. Someone asked, “Where did all the 35-year-old professionals go?” My answer is, first they go to Starbucks, then they go to McDonald’s, and finally they go to Sha County for small eats. Eventually, the veterans don’t die; they’re just busy driving for Didi and delivering food!

At the end of the month, the HR department makes the payroll, and the boss looks at the salary table, frowning, “These guys over 35 are too expensive, lazy, and slippery. Let’s get rid of them!” So HR calls you in, gives you some money, and tells you to leave immediately! It’s as they say: when the boss tells you to die on Friday, he won’t keep you by his side the following Monday. There are countless cases like this of brutal layoffs.

The career life of someone who went after a high salary is too short. Especially for commoners like the 80s generation, who doesn’t have a mortgage of one or two thousand? Nowadays, three thousand is what, ten years ago, three thousand was.

Chinese companies are, for the most part, labor-intensive and cost-sensitive human machines. If you’re over 35, you’re like a three-year-old iPhone, and your battery doesn’t last. It’s time to shut you down and stop keeping you.

The slaughter at 35, which happens at each of the world’s top 500 companies, let’s go over which one hasn’t?

When I was studying, an old professor motivated us:

  • Graduating from undergrad is just “unfinished.”
  • Graduating from postgrad is a “half-finished product,”
  • After working for five years, you can be called a “finished product,”
  • After working for ten years, you can be called a “premium product,”
  • After working for twenty years, you can be called a “rare find.”

But why is it that just after becoming a “premium product” at 35, you become “useless”?

More content available on my WeChat: chenxuan008beijing

Safety Nets and Comfort

In reality, there is a safety net.

Over the past forty years of reform and opening up, a considerable amount of societal wealth has been accumulated. Although there hasn’t been a deliberate effort to distribute this wealth to the people, ordinary citizens have managed to establish some financial security.

Today’s poverty differs significantly from the destitution of the past. At the very least, the problem of basic sustenance is resolved, and for most households, life is somewhat better than mere subsistence.

When one’s life is no longer on the line, there is no longer a need for a last-ditch battle. They have earned the right to pursue comfort.

Let me share an example to illustrate the point. I am a child of the educated youth (zhiqing) generation. I had nothing when my mother and I returned to Beijing from Hegang. I attended a technical school and, although I was assigned to a state-owned enterprise, the income was too low, so I quit after a year.

I joined a Taiwanese-owned enterprise where my income increased five or sixfold. The work was extremely demanding, and when the boss was recruiting, he asked me to recommend some classmates. I described the job to several technical school classmates, most of whom came from ordinary backgrounds. However, being native Beijingers, they had some financial security. They all rejected the job offer, despite the fact that it would have tripled or quadrupled their salaries.

Their reasons for rejection were the same: they didn’t see the need to work so tirelessly, and they certainly didn’t want to serve anyone.

Here’s another example: I live in a Beijing resettlement community, where many families receive low-income assistance. They live in public housing and enjoy various subsidies. They have no worries about basic needs such as food and clothing. As a result, most of them don’t work. Occasionally, someone might take on a job as a supermarket stock clerk, but they quit after a few months because it’s tiring, and it doesn’t significantly change their circumstances.

Many of these people lack education and skills, and even if they were to work, it wouldn’t make much of a difference. So, they choose comfort instead, and all they need to do is lower their desires. For instance, the family living above me enjoys dumplings every day and cooks radishes daily.

Do you think low wages mean no overtime? What are you thinking?

The internet is filled with various topics created for the sake of generating traffic. Without proper research and data, one should not easily believe labels assigned to a specific group.

For instance, I recently came across a social platform called “Soul” on Zhihu, marketing a topic claiming that young people have an average of only two friends and that chatting with virtual beings (AI) has become a social trend. Without the ability to discern, one might easily fall for such unethical tactics.

Regarding the career choices of young people, based on my personal life experience, I have doubts about these results.

Certainly, young people want to live comfortably and avoid excessive fatigue, but they probably don’t want low wages either. When faced with the dilemma of not being able to have both fish and the bear’s paw, individuals make different choices. From my perspective, it seems like more people opt for higher-paying jobs, and having a low salary doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be exploited.

The dilemma I personally face is that the available job options are highly polarized. There are only two types of jobs to choose from: either extremely laid-back or extremely demanding, with a lack of middle ground.

I really hope to find a job that offers both income and intensity at around 70-80% of the current level, allowing for a work-life balance. However, such opportunities are hard to come by and often lack stability.