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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