Resignation story

Time to take your bonus and leave soon? It’s the great resignation playing out, and what is the story you’re telling yourself about your identity, your work and what this transition means for you? How does the departure interact with your history and experience? And how does this transition connect with your sense of purpose? Why is resigning a way for you to move forward?

For me, it was an opportunity to explore a different space. Not in terms of topics, or network, but context, perspective. But perhaps more importantly, my departure from public service felt like truly the first first time I wield the pen to my own story. I thought I was always living someone else’s story, that of the model Singaporean.

I was the one who didn’t behave that well but not too badly either as a student. What happened was I made it into a good school. I won’t lie: it made a difference. I wasn’t the teacher’s pet but didn’t give the teacher enough trouble that they were happy to spend time with me, invest in me and help me work things out. I wasn’t ever the top student but each time I was able to get into a better class, school or environment with my grades, I took the chance to push myself, often staying within top 10 or 20 but never first or second. I wasn’t in the most important CCAs nor represented the school in anything worthwhile – I briefly got selected for Chemistry Olympiad training but did not make the cut to be part of the school team.

By most counts I was a normal Singaporean; I didn’t become an officer in National Service or clock any spectacular achievement. But I managed to get a scholarship and that made me feel special. At least for a while. I met my wife whilst in college, proposed and got married well before 30. Probably where I fall short was buying a resale flat rather than BTO. It seemed a little like a foolish thing – we had to fork out more and got a house with less time on the lease. But we were happy, it suit our needs and values.

I went to work in a nice government agency and did what I was told to; performed well enough to be recognised in many ways. But it always felt like there was some transaction lurking behind: ‘do this and you will get that’; ‘meet this benchmark and enjoy that’. It was the same when thinking about housing, navigating the life in Singapore. We pretty just get nudged along in life. By the sticks and carrots, stars and dots.

So you can see why leaving that job, looking to establish oneself based on one’s own capabilities, and actually putting oneself in the marketplace is part of writing my own story. It was, to a large extent, a big part of taking ownership of how I wanted to chart my path ahead, and consider how I want to contribute to the world.

This is why I mentor and coach; and why I wrote Dream, Think & Act.

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