Hi there, I am Wendy Boey!
I am born, raised and based in Singapore, a tropical island city-state in Southeast Asia.
The following story I am about to share – is not of my childhood or my current circumstances. It was about a difficult period in my life – and that happened not too long ago.
You can call me a workaholic. I am committed to get the work done. That means I put in long hours and sheer hard work, and that sometimes include manual work.
Well… this was not without the positives. I’ve worked in reputable companies – from local firms to Fortune 500 MNCs. Collaborating across international borders digitally, I gained the trust and respect from my superiors and colleagues all over the world. You can check out the recommendations at my LinkedIn profile.
But I started to realize my success came with a hefty price tag.
Why I walked away from
a SGD 5,500 monthly salary job
In mid 2015, I made a difficult decision to walk away from the corporate world.
I was holding a permanent full-time position with global responsibilities in employee data and human resources projects. I had always desired a global role that allows me to do what I do best. And what’s more – the comfortable salary meant I need not worry from pay check to pay check, especially with our new residence and its renovation.
I had not looked after myself well.
At age 32, my health deteriorated, I fell sick easily and took longer time to recover. Every time there is a flu bug in the office, you’d be sure I’ll fall sick very soon.
The wake up call was when I strained my lower back muscles in April 2015 and couldn’t walk properly for weeks. At the same time, I experienced increasing numbness, tingling and eventually stabbing pains in my wrists, arms and toes. I was afraid I might have sustained a spinal injury and was becoming paralyzed!
During one of the usual nights working late in the office to rush some “urgent and important” stuff, my boss called me into his room. I struggled to get up from my chair. When I could finally lift myself out of the chair, I was arching my back unnaturally and walking with much difficulties to his room. And that’s when I realized how severe my physical condition was.
With each late night and weekends I put in to rush the endless “urgent, very urgent” tasks, I traded my precious family time for my career. When I’m home, my mind is exhausted and not 100% with my family. I was easily agitated and depressed. This was not how I wanted to face my loved ones.
When I hit rock bottom, I made a decision to pull myself out of the pit. With the endless work pouring in and my health was taking a toil, I mustered my courage on 19 May 2015 to quit and serve my 3-month notice period till 31 August 2015.
I quit without a job.
I wasn’t actively looking for one either. I was tired of being trapped in the firing range of co-workers pursuing their corporate/political agendas. I was physically and mentally exhausted from chasing endless tasks where I did not see myself making any impact. I don’t know why I was doing what I was doing anymore.
All I knew was that I needed to focus on recuperation and regrouping my thoughts on what matters most.
While serving my 3-months long notice period…
I started exploring what I could do instead of coping at home when being ‘deliberately unemployed’.
Beading as a hobby, I have been a small-time online entrepreneur selling my handmade jewelry in Etsy since 2009. My handmade products are now available for sale at http://handmade.wendyboey.com
As an one-woman-operation, I handle everything from start to finish – from buying supplies to jewelry making, from product photography and editing to writing the product descriptions, from product listing to marketing, from shipping and handling to customer service, etc.
However it is increasingly difficult to be bead weaving for extended periods with my medical condition.
I have been blogging for many years, or rather… ranting online about things happening in my world. Initially I thought my mum was perhaps my only reader.
I was sort of ‘englightened’ by Fabian Lim when I attending his Real Internet Secrets workshop in mid-August 2014. With the initial intentions to attending the workshop to learn how to create a WordPress website, he introduced me to Google Analytics and the concept of online monetization. I was intrigued, but at the same time skeptical.
Since I am already sharing my travel itineraries and experiences to Taiwan in my personal blog, all I did additionally then was to sign up as an affiliate with Agoda and update my existing blog entries to include my affiliate link. Seven months later, I received my first pay cheque as an affiliate marketer.
I was surprised to learn that my blog is reaching an average of 200 readers DAILY, of which 3 out of 4 are new readers. The highest reach on a single day was 435 readers on 5 November 2015. I was also in disbelief having earn a passive income online legally, totaling SGD 2,321 in 2015, tapping on my existing online posts and doing next to nothing.
This opened my mind – the corporate ladder may jolly well not be my sole sustenance. Furthermore with my ailing health, it makes sense to explore multiple streams of income.
Since 2013, I felt that my life became episodes of increasing misery.
Just the other day, I was reviewing the SMS history in my mobile phone when I spotted text conversations with my ex-bosses in 2014 to 2015. Every other day I was informing them I would be on sick leave as I was down with fever or flu. Many a times their reply was not of genuine concern but “not again?!”
Nonetheless my response was always “Boss, worry not, I may have fallen sick but what you’ve tasked me to do have been completed. You can go about your day as usual as if I’m at work”
The more I read, the more disappointed I got.
Disappointed with myself.
Why didn’t I prioritize my health instead?
Now I’m constantly reminding myself to take these positively — if not for this health scare, I would never force myself to take a break from work and realize there’s more to life than hiding behind a computer screen more than 8 hours a day. Here’s some words of encouragement I received during my ‘deliberate unemployment’.
My ‘deliberate unemployment’ lasted a good 7.5 months from September 2015 to late-April 2016. During this time, I attended several workshops to learn new skills and went on several vacations – Taiwan in October, Bangkok in December, Hong Kong in January, and Brisbane and Taiwan in March – almost one vacation each month.
I have since returned to a full time corporate job in late April 2016. I feel happier even though I’m not paid the same SGD 5,500 I had previously drawn. I remind myself every single day that my physical and mental health comes first. No point over-stressing myself. Although old habits die hard and I am still the workaholic self putting in long hours, I always ensure that tasks are manageable – and to walk away physically from the laptop should I feel my brain getting foggy.
I gotta admit that it’s challenging going back to work after being absent from the corporate world for some time. I mean, I have to ‘re-learn’ how to configure the settings in Outlook, how to set up out-of-office alerts etc. It’s often the simple things we take for granted. But I am loving my new organisation – the passionate people, the vibrant industry, the physical work environment, the agile culture and the job responsibilities – some of which my other colleagues thought I might think it’s too menial, e.g. sorting out and filing p-files, but I don’t mind 🙂
Take a break!
Changes can be the most grueling. Nothing beats upsetting the status quo and disrupting your comfort zone. But believe me – changes may be for the better or the worse – but how you deal with it and move on, that’s the most important.
If you ever find yourself in a situation needing a listening ear from a ‘stranger’, do feel free to reach out to me in Facebook or in the contact form below
“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something.
Don’t wait for good things to happen to you.
If you go out and make some good things happen,
you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”
the first African American President of the United States of America