Once in our life, Two years of our time. We have all heard this before, and for the Singaporean men, we have all lived through this before. For two years of our lives, we serve our nation valiantly. However, what comes next?
Let me paint a picture for you. We have finally reached the day of our Operationally Ready Date (ORD). For months and months, we have been counting down to this fateful day. We laugh at our peers who are still in service. We post the mandatory pink IC picture with the caption “ORD loh!” on Instagram. We are ecstatic, as we lie in bed, thinking about the new-found freedom that we have. Then reality hits. What now? What lies ahead for us?
For those that are waiting to matriculate, the break is seemingly endless. There are only so many dramas and movies we can watch. There are only so many games we can play. There is only so much money we have left to spend…
Fret not, as I offer you some suggestions on how you can spend your time fruitfully in this break!
- Get a Job
Our time in service was definitely made better by the monthly allowance that we received. Count ourselves lucky that our allowance has increased in recent years, and we are able to save up a considerable amount for our post-ORD antics. However, it is important to note that life does not end here. We will still require savings even during our university years, so there is no better time to earn some extra cash than now.
While keeping in mind that our time is short, and you will likely want to do other activities, part-time jobs are great options. If you are confident, giving part-time tuition is also another flexible way of earning some extra cash.
2. Upgrade Your Skillsets
Warren Buffett once said, “The best investment you can make is in yourself.” There is no better time to invest in yourself than after you ORD, where all you have is time and money.
Take time to figure out what you can do to improve yourself. It can be as simple as cultivating a habit of reading a book, or it can be as complex as learning a new language. While such habits or skills might not seem particularly useful at present, it will definitely set you apart from your peers in the ! Stay tune for my next post on this!
3. Explore the World
Very few times in your life, will you have the opportunity to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. To embark on such an adventure, one will require time, money and health. Post-ORD is one of the rare few times where you will have all three.
During army, I constantly dreamed of embarking on such an adventure. As such, while hanging out with my friend one day, we discussed going to Mongolia, a place we will likely never get the chance to go again. We packed our bags and headed to Ulaanbaatar in June, 2 months before our matriculation. We spent a total of a month there, traversing mountains and deserts, seeing the most beautiful stars and skies. I always look back at the decision I made that day, and I think it is one of the best I have ever made.
There is so much that we are not aware of in this world. So many cultures, people, traditions and customs. The world is much bigger than we can imagine. Have the guts to take a step out of your comfort zone and explore this!
Sitting under the stars in the Gobi with my new friends
4. Give Back to the Community
When all seems rosy and good in our world, it is important to remember that for someone else out there, it is quite the contrary. It is easy to forget of other’s troubles when we are living in comfort ourselves. In Singapore, there are many groups of people that require our help, like the low-income, elderly or disabled.
I joined Touch Young Arrows (TYA), a volunteer club that provides mentorship to children from underprivileged families in the form of academic coaching and values-driven lessons. TYA has volunteer clubs in 25 different locations in Singapore, thus making it extremely convenient for volunteers to access. I joined TYA Woodlands in Feb 2019, in the same month I left the National Service. This was something I intended to do even before I left, thus I signed up and attended the volunteer orientation months before (the registration process takes a few months so you should do it early too).
Having been an active volunteer for slightly more than a year now, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time spent helping the kids. It is heartening to know that a short 3 hours every week spent with these kids can go a long way.
As the Chinese saying goes, “If you have money, give money; If you have strength, give strength”. Helping the underprivileged entails giving what you can to them. Every little effort will definitely count for something, impacting someone.
Volunteer by spending quality time with kids!
5. Extend Your Service
Last but not least, if you are really unsure of what to do with your time, why not extend your service to the nation? While that might seem like a laughable option, especially given the amount of time spent dreaming of our ORD, it is actually a very practical one. For some of us, the time between ORD and our next milestone can be extremely lengthy. Some of us might not even have any concrete plans.
For myself, I chose to extend my service for another 3 months. At the time, my unit was in a transitional phase and thus, was lacking in numbers. After consulting my commander, I decided to continue serving for another 3 months to aid in this difficult phase. In the short 3 months, I managed to conduct induction programs for two new batches of soldiers. It was fulfilling to see that I made an impact and achieved something in the time I was there. Looking back, I have no regrets. I know that the 3 months would probably have been wasted lazing around my house, figuring out what to do next if I had not extended my service.
The Singapore Armed Forces could definitely do with more soldiers. Protecting and safeguarding our nation is an amiable and valiant act of service to those around us. If you see yourself being able to contribute effectively to the Force, you could always take up the option of extending your service!
Good friends to accompany me through my extension
All in all, time is precious. The time we have after we ORD while we decide our next course of action is exciting. Make sure you maximize it so that you will have no regrets!
This article was written by Tok Yin Jie, who is a second-year Accountancy and Business Undergraduate from Nanyang Technological University currently interning in SNCF, Campus and Youth team. He is passionate about travelling and learning about new cultures. He hopes to be able to make a change in society in the future.