I quit my SGD$114,000 job. Here’s why.

It was just yesterday that I bade farewell to my SGD$114,000.00 job. While my friends are still dead-intent on climbing that glittering corporate ladder, I’d much prefer to take the path less travelled.

Why, you ask?

I believe Life should be more than just that mindless pursuit for more money, more pompous titles, and more symbols of “success” (car, condo, cards, you-name-it).

I have friends at various ends of the spectrum. Some with an average salary, maybe 2.5-3K per month, who are just slaving at the office every single day. Mind you, their bosses are not about to double or triple their paycheque any time soon! But it’s still their ‘comfort zone’ and they console themselves with the fact that “I can expect that fixed sum being credited into my account end of the month”, despite having lost all sight of what they are working for. If it’s just for Money, you get its companion named Emptiness. Beyond the bragging rights, earning up to 3 times more than my peers has not pushed me up the Happiness Index scale very much.

I have other friends, earning 7, 8K per month. And they work weekdays, weekends, overtime. They have become modern-day slaves to their jobs. They look so tired and overworked that it’s painful to watch.

Now, is there a happy ‘in-between’? I’d think not. I think most people are highly uncomfortable with the fact that there are people beside them who seemingly work less hard, but are paid more money. Don’t we all know people like that? 😉

People can’t help comparing themselves and their incomes with other people. I know, ‘cos friends like to ask how much I’ve been earning, and I ask them too.

I’d like to think that last year was a lucky bumper year for me, what with the $114K income. It was simply the result of being in the right place, at the right time. The sales line has always been something I excelled in, besides studying (as those who know me, know). Last year’s freakishly high income was due to my exceeding the company sales target by over 50%. They didn’t expect it, and I didn’t see it coming too.

This year, the company retracted many of the resources once given to me, wanting me to (in my opinion) work harder for my money. Targets were raised by 30% and commissions cut by 50%. Double whammy.

I’m proud to say that before I left, I managed 98% of the target for Quarter 1. Sure, it’s shy of the 100% mark, but an achievement nonetheless. My ‘superior’ was evidently stunned when I told him I was just 2% short of hitting that ridiculous target. That shocked look on his face, as Mastercard ads would say, was PRICELESS!

You’ll probably be thinking now that I left because there’s less money this year. ‘Yes’, and ‘no’.

Yes, it’s less money this year for the same amount of sales done. More work this time, because some resources that used to be at my disposal have been taken away.

No, it’s more than just the money. The sense of purpose was gone. The sense of being in a company with a noble purpose was gone. The sense of being in a solely profit-driven company was raising alarm bells every single day. I worked, and dreamt only of the holiday I would soon be taking. No nobler purposes, no sense that my actions are making positive impacts on other people’s lives.

Come to think of it, I don’t need so many holidays. Often, people come back more tired after holidays than before they went. Haven’t you experienced that yourself? An ex-colleague once commented that she needed a holiday after a holiday, because the first was just so tiring.

What if every day can be a relaxing holiday? What if Life need not be so exhausting? What if every day could be FUN?

I don’t need the packed train rides every morning and evening anymore. Neither do I want to be forced to have to show up at the office every day just so the bosses know I AM still working, when the tasks can be more efficiently executed when I work at home. I don’t want my energy zapped away by being in low-energy offices anymore.

Have a look for yourself. Be in a train station during the morning or evening peak hours. People are just rushing to or from their office. Rushing for what? Most of the time, they and I know not. There is an air of urgency, like everyone is just on the cusp of finding the all-important cure for cancer, and therefore there is that overwhelmingly urgent need to rush to some place or other. These scenes never fail to get my adrenalin level up, my heart pumping faster, and my legs taking longer strides. Though I absolutely am not in a rush!

Now, I just want to slow things down a bit. To take the time to smell the flowers, and say ‘hi’ to the little kids I meet. No one can say with certainty that he/she will definitely be alive tomorrow. So do you want to live today being oblivious to the brilliant sunrise and sunset, the splendor of nature, the innocence of children, and all the other good and worthwhile things in life, only because you are in a rush to go somewhere, to do something, to meet someone?

I’ve lived almost a quarter of a century. But I can’t say that I’ve left anything worthwhile behind that would last more than a day should I kick the bucket anytime soon. And that is just too sad for me to contemplate living with. Perhaps, we should ask ourselves what we are living for. What are we earning all that money for? What are we always being in a rush for? What are we doing all that firefighting everyday in the office for?

Ultimately, whose life is it anyway?

Dear readers, can we possibly live more happily, with greater joy and fulfilment, with perhaps less money and less stress and anxiety? I’d like to test that out, and I’d like to take you with me on that journey. 🙂 So stay tuned for more awesome interviews and more updates.

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28 thoughts on “I quit my SGD$114,000 job. Here’s why.

  1. wow… you’ve made me think.. and that’s priceless.. will meet soon and please don’t give on me yet 🙂

    • Hey Samy! Yes, we must meet soon! Georgia and I have a surprise for you. Oops, I hope this doesn’t spoil the surprise. Ha! No worries. I’ll cultivate patience as a virtue, just for you! 😀

  2. Hi Grace

    Just wanted to say, “GOOD ON YOU!!” =) I love your straightforward ways and the courage you show in doing things that make sense. You have a supporter in me. =)

  3. Hi Grace.I am glad 2 read your comments here. I did that 8 years ago in 2003. Going out from a Ssenior technical job 2 a Sale career in property without a single DIME of salary. I agreed to most of the things you wrote here. Whatever we do in life, the purpose come 1st but without purpose it is meaningless what we have achieved.

    Now after 8 yrs. I have more time 2 plan what I want 2 do and I somehow can decide my income too.
    I also take many months off for few years 2 study for my property course exam which I can never do if I am working.

    Just 2 share a little. I did that when I am much older and have many commitments. House mortgage,car installment, and so on..But I did it anyhow. I constantly told myself that.I am too POSITIVE to be DOUBTFUL, too OPTIMISTIC to be FEARFUL, too PESSIMISTIC to be DEFEATED. To sum up. I am glad I did it and I like 2 say what you have done 2 day it will be your DESTINY for the future.

    I would give U a TUMB up for being bold making a life DECISION at age of 25 yr . Wish You ALL SUCCESS.


  4. Hi Grace

    I am so proud of you what u had wrote here. I totally agree with you even though I am still an employee. You are smart enough to make the right decision early. I am really very pity those “rusher” during peak hour. My wife is out of the employee now just like you. The next one will be me soon 🙂

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  11. Hey looks like we’re about the same age, and yes I too am away from a 9-5 regular job cos i wanted something more fulfilling. But let me tell you of the other side – you’ve managed to get something fulfilling and that makes money – but for those of us creatives who are trying and trying and by luck or geography or lack of opportunities aren’t getting anywhere – it sometimes brings across the thought of returning to a 9-5!

    Especially when you see all your 9-5 friends unfulfilled emotionally sure, but with assets like property and cars and a career – and you have none of this – that’s a hard pill to swallow and it’s difficult living a life less stressful, but one that affords you nothing in terms of practical things people need in general like a roof over their heads. So i dunno, sometimes the grass does appear green on the other side. You’re a success story, but there are many like me who aren’t successful – yet ………. we hope. But really we don’t know.

    Pondering if one should keep dreaming and planing for ideals that don’t seem to materialise or get back into a sad and unfulfilling 9-5 job – it’s not an easy decision. Just like with many of life’s major decisions – like do you marry this person and settle for ‘good enough’ or wait for that passionate die-for-him soulmate love that might never come and you’ll be 50 and still waiting? Tough, tough decisions, all of them. Any advice?

    • Hi Sarah,

      I am a pretty new reader to the blog as well (Hi Grace!), and while I normally prefer to read and internalise, I felt a response would be good, as I am a Creative myself. Directly upon graduation, I bravely took the “path less travelled” as well, and for the first 1.5 year post-grad, I co-founded a social enterprise and cultural project benefiting Asian minority groups in South East Asia. It was very satisfying work, even if the money was lacking, but at the 1 year mark, there was a barrage of personal circumstances which ended in the very painful decision to leave the company, and sought for a regular job. Today, the company still flourishes under the leadership of a very capable partner, and I am proud to still serve as a member and supporter.

      In hindsight, that was the kick to the ass that I needed. Because while chasing the dream & doing good for others was very fulfilling (and admirable from the outside looking in) there were many other factors that were slowly being neglected. Things like health, bread and butter issues, relationships, family allowances, savings for the future. Sh*t can get real, very quickly.

      In short, I think the grievance that you feel might be due to the imbalance of cash/cars/etc between us; the dream chasers and the so called 9to5ers, In truth, Creatives just earn lesser, as compared to other industries. Sales/Banking/ProjectAcquisitions is where all the $$$ is, and more so if you are a high-performer. The only way for Creatives is to climb the ladder and eventually reach Creative Director / Lead level, or start your own company and run the gauntlet, like how I did.

      Today, I am a Senior Creative, the work is meaningful and the money is more than enough. Even the so called “failure” of having to exit my social enterprise is parlayed into my professional resume as invaluable experience, and when speaking objectively of the time, I did gain more insight and expertise than money could buy.

      The really important thing is to define what your success really is. For me, It is taking care of myself, my health, my family, travelling, and contributing to a sound financial future. Today, all that is possible, I have all insurances/retirement/health policies in place, I will retire at 55 (more travel!), I travel 4 times a year, have time to decompress/stay active and work in an office where I “own” my projects and control my sphere of influence, while sharpening my skills. I even have time to volunteer during the weekends at a hospice.

      I may not be earning the highest of salaries, but considering all the things that are important to me, and what I want out of Life, I would consider what I have a success, because all of my boxes are checked, and all my immediate/foreseeable concerns are taken care of.

      To echo Grace’s advice, I will say to be honest with yourself and your dreams/goals. Define what is important to YOU and WHY, and what your success is, some measures to bring you closer to them and you will find a clearer & cleaner path, independent of what your friends/peers are doing or earning.

      It will keep you focused, and more importantly, sane & contented. It took 2 years since leaving the company to get this balancing act just right.

      I have an uncle who as a managing director was earning 15K a month, but at the age of 48, he had the gaunt look of someone older, due to the stresses and responsibilities. And a plethora of stress-related ailments, he has no time for his kids, until they were grown, and his holidays were practically “working away from the office” situations, which incurred more stress than anything. His marriage eventually broke down, and only after a health scare, he thought long and hard, and reprioritised his life.

      It really is not what we do, but why we do it.

      Best of luck! You can do it.


  12. hi Grace, I hope its never too late to know you. I mean your success in blogging and I believe I have more to learn from you. Will read up on your book as well.

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