Would you leave a $10,000-a-month career for a $3,000-a-month job?
Without a second thought, I’m sure most of us would say no.
Yet, I kept seeing news headlines with a similar theme; “Brothers quit $10,000-a-month jobs, take 70% paycut to take over Nam Kee chicken rice family business“, “She quit her (corporate) job at 30 to be a lor mee hawker” or “The Madman Who Left His 5-figure Advertising Job To Become A Farmer“.
This got me thinking…
What the hell is going on?! Why are these highly paid workers quitting their jobs and taking a huge pay cut to do other things while the rest of us are chasing a higher salary?
Why People Leave High-Paying Jobs in Singapore
Most of us are looking to build on our careers, and that usually means going for higher pay.
After all, based on the TODAY Youth Survey, 71 percent of Singaporeans look out for high pay:
Given that the median gross monthly income from work including employer CPF now stands at $5,070 for the year 2022, it’s quite clear that the folks featured in these headlines are way ahead of the curve with their 5-figure incomes.
With the most important attribute secured, it baffles me why some of them even took a 70 per cent pay cut to become hawkers.
Could you imagine doing that yourself?
At first, I thought that these folks were leaving due to the second most common reason based on the Youth Survey, which was work-life balance (61 per cent).
However, leaving their jobs to become farmers or hawkers isn’t exactly a move for a better work-life balance. In fact, it could be even more exhausting with some of them waking up at 4 am to prepare for the work day.
After going through their stories, there seems to be a trend:
The brothers quit their successful banking careers to continue their family’s legacy at Nam Kee chicken rice.
Jaycee Du, the lady who left her corporate job at 30 to become a Lor Mee hawker, did so for her mother.
The “Madman”, Bjorn Low, quit his lofty job to pursue his passion for urban farming.
All of them have climbed the corporate ladder while earning big bucks, before quitting to do something that they find meaning in.
This further intrigued me since attaining a greater sense of purpose and fulfilment was the last thing in mind when it came to finding a job (43 per cent).
Should We Be Chasing High Pay?
This may sound like a redundant question.
I mean, who doesn’t want more money right?
There’s even a saying that money can’t buy happiness, but it’s definitely easier to cry in a Ferrari than in a Toyota!
I get it too, money does relieve many of the burdens and gives us more options to pursue what we want in life.
Then again, we see these folks who already attained the high pay, yet quit their careers to pursue things they find meaning in.
After reading these stories, I believe it serves as a reminder for those of us chasing money just because…
A reminder for us to question our “why”.
In our never-ending pursuit of higher pay, a.k.a the rat race, it is easy to forget why we are doing it in the first place.
Why do you want a higher salary? Is it to attain a certain lifestyle? To reach Financial Independence and Retire Early (FIRE)?
Or are you just doing what everyone else seems to be doing just for the sake of the rat race?
In the end, there is no right or wrong answer. But perhaps, these real-life examples can help us reflect on our own lives to figure out our answers.