Recently, something rare happened to me. I fell sick. It is a surprising event for me as I have always been fit and healthy. In the sabbatical I recently took, I didn’t get ill at all for an entire year. But just being back at my hectic work this year, I have gotten the flu. And as I did not take medical leave, it was a difficult 3 days when I went to work.
A while ago, I achieved my financial independence. My passive income pays for my expenses. But I continued at my work, for it keeps me occupied. Besides, more money means a bigger financial buffer. However, this episode of me being unwell have given me some serious thoughts about why I am doing what I am doing. Is it still worth waking up so early each day and spend 8-11 hours at work, when there is no real need to do so.
My work is rather meaningful, but it is also taking a physical toll on me. I spend long hours at work, exchanging my time for wages. The money is not bad, but I am restricted to a schedule. And the work can be rather routine, for I am doing the same stuff each year.
I have been contemplating for quite a while already, to leave my current employment. So that I can try something different. A second career maybe? I have been at my job for more than a decade, and I am yearning for new experiences.
But the truth is, I am fearful.
I wonder if I can ever get back my current pay. I worry if I will regret my decision later. I am plagued by doubts if this choice is the best for me. After all, if I continue doing what I am doing now, I will definitely have no money problems for the rest of my life. In fact I can have a very comfortable lifestyle.
But I also wonder at the “what if”s. What if I had tried something different and it brings me more joy and excitement. What if I can excel in another trade? Will I have any regrets when I looked back in a decade’s time and regret not walking the path less certain?
If I quit, I will need to live a simple life with few indulgences. Will I be satisfied with such a basic existence, or will I regret not toughing it out for more years to have a fatter bank account.
I want to help other people. And I am already helping my students. I feel fulfilled when they understand my convictions. But why do I still feel the emptiness in my soul that tells me I need to find another purpose for my life.
Questions and doubts, and all without any real answers.
I have a habit of writing annual resolutions. I print them out and stick them at the back of my door. Before I leave my room each morning, I am reminded of what I want to achieve for the new year. And this year, printed in bold, was this:
“to have FAITH and COURAGE.”
I need to learn to know when enough is really enough. I am always trying to have more for safety, when what I already have may be sufficient. I need to have faith that new doors will open when I close some old ones.
I read this quote by Mr Alvin Lee, founder of Castles Can Fly, recently in Sunday Times. “First, you build castles in the air. Then you build castles everywhere.”
Mr Lee left his high flying corporate career to chase his dreams despite many naysayers. Life was tough for many years and he faced bankruptcy and failed relationships. But in the end, it all worked out. Life has come full circle for him, and he is happy.
I need to find the same courage that he had, to act on my convictions.
I will like to share this prayer that I say often, before I start a new workday:
Oh creator of all things, help me. For this day I go out to the world naked and alone. And without your hand to guide me, I will wander far from the paths which lead to happiness. Confront me with fears to temper my soul, yet endow me with courage to live purposefully. Spare me enough days to reach my goals, yet help me live this day as though it be my last. Help me count my blessings for today, and give me faith that everything will be fine in the end.