Why I Quit My Job…

A good job. Decent, steady money. What’s there to complain about?

Since high school, I had an idea I wanted to be an engineer but it probably wasn’t until college where the interest really started to pique. But even after graduating and having a somewhat difficult time determining a career path I still had some doubts about whether it was still the right decision.

I got lucky and landed in a career path that I didn’t even know I wanted at the time with a reputable and respectable aerospace company. I’ve had the opportunity to be an engineer doing the type of work that I really enjoyed. I thoroughly enjoyed the work, but I got caught up in the rush to quickly to find a job after college, only to find that I still have a good majority of my life left to work.

Why would anyone throw it away? Simply put, I don’t think I would have this good of an opportunity to travel and explore my personal interests.

source: yourecards


 

Before I knew it, I already been working for 5+ years, and I knew if I continued on the same path, that at the ten year mark I wouldn’t have been satisfied with where I was and the (lack of) experiences that I thought I had. I did catch the travel bug, but traveling just to travel wasn’t reason enough to quit a stable job. So I started thinking about the things I wanted to do to enhance my life, and things that would make me satisfied. In the process of doing these, traveling would happen naturally.

    1. Develop deeper interpersonal relationships with family and friends. 

      I’ve noticed within the past few years that my attention was too much focused on work life, almost to an unhealthy level. I was happy with where I was going with my career, but not happy with the relationships I had, both personal and familial. I didn’t want my work life to define who I was and the conversations I had – I needed to re-pivot and change focus.

    2. To gain a wider perspective. 

      This was largely sparked on a backpacking trip through Malaysia. There large groups of Indians, Chinese, and Malays that coexist. The mesh of all these culturesmade the experience memorable (both good and bad) and it was the first time I had been blatantly discriminated for being ethnically Chinese. For me, this was aneye opening experience having grown up in the U.S. Not to say I enjoyed it, but trying to understand it became more of an interest. But more importantly, realizing that each locale has its own set of prejudices driven by history, politics, or religion.

 

  • To live or work overseas. 

    Mid 20’s, single, and no family – perfect! I wanted to live like a local, and gain a deeper understanding of what it would be like to live overseas.The goal isn’t to find work overseas, but if an intriguing opportunity came up I’d seize it. I figured the chance of finding an opportunity I’d like (despite the lower pay) by interacting with the locals would be much higher than trying to do a job search over the internet.

 

 

  • Release myself from thinking that working for money leads to happiness. 

    Time or Money. You can have one or the other, but rarely have both. I didn’t want to work until retiring at age 60 only to find that my arthritis, stomach issues, or possibly other major health problems would prevent me from doing the things I wanted.

    Anyone that knows me, money was something I tried to save, and to save as much as I could. “Being too cheap” was a natural tendency for me and probably how most of my friends would describe me. It wasn’t because I didn’t have the money, but because I didn’t want to spend the money. It’s been hard habit to break, but simply not having a constant income was a huge mental block I had to get over.

 

 

  • To lead a slower life. 

    While working full time and concurrently attending graduate school, I spent many nights burning the midnight oil. It wasn’t enjoyable at all but it was choice I made.

    The vacations I had taken were typically shotgun-style, and ended up being extremely exhausting trying to fit so much in so little time. At times, I couldn’t even remember the names of the places I had visited. Not only that, the work would just pile up and working overtime before or after a trip became common practice.

    I wanted to couchsurf, cultivate friendships with those overseas, and let my curiosity run allowing me to explore areas I wouldn’t have otherwise had the time to do. These would all require an extended time away.

 

 

  • Pursue interests.

    These include both personal and career oriented, but mostly personal. Creating a blog. Bicycle Touring. Rock climbing. Exploring the outdoors. Improving Chinese.There is no doubt I could’ve done this while having a full time job, but having the extra time would jump start the process.

 

And lastly, if it turned out to be mistake (luckily, it hasn’t), I still have a few decades to redefine my career. With all these, Taiwan became the best place for me to accomplish many of these points.

A sunrise view from XueShan 雪山, Taiwan’s second highest peak

References

The power of time off – TED

Four Hour Work Week – Tim Ferris

5 examples of how language can effect the way we think – TED

How to Explain a Gap in your CV 

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