It’s been five years since I left corporate. It was not a decision I made lightly. I’m glad I did, as it has allowed me to focus on what really matters to me, such as my interests and my family.
I miss the stability of a paycheck, the occasional moments of pride in my work and the friendships that transcend our place of employment, age and geography, but I do not miss much else.
My decision has forced me to work harder at making my interests more prolific and even revenue-generating, while being able to be there for my son.
I am grateful to my husband for supporting us; it also helps that I have not really lusted after luxuries and live a pretty spartan life.
But after riding into the sunset, what?
Katrina is married, with three daughters, 6- and 3-year-olds and a 7-month-old. After devoting a decade to a fast-moving consumer goods company, she decided to give it all up.
“My desire to focus on my kids and have a more flexible time was too great,” Katrina explained. “Now I get to do the things I’ve always wanted to do.”
She started her real estate business while still in corporate, and worked on it every weekend. Katrina realized that it could be her alternative career.
The first few days after leaving the corporate career were an adjustment. “Not having anything written on my calendar for weeks is something I’m still getting used to, because my calendar is usually packed with meetings, presentations, etc.” she said.
But there is a lot to like about it, too, such as being free to plan her day and being able to do the simple things. “Like, bring my kids to school or decide to drop everything when I feel I want to just go malling with them,” said Katrina. “I do miss the free gas allowance, medical benefits and my colleagues who have been my friends.”
Katrina is now a licensed real estate broker. “I also bake and sell my creations (Sui Treats), especially during Christmas. I also do corporate training 5:33:49 PM and have a side trading business I’m fixing with a partner,” she said.
“I think the danger of having my time so free and in my control is that I try to pack it with so many things, trying to accomplish so much so that I feel more ‘productive.’ I need to remind myself that the reason I left corporate is to focus on my children, and hopefully still contribute to the family’s finances.”
Trixie is married, with a pet dog named Bugsy.
“For 12 years I worked for a prestigious real estate company,” she said. “Upon graduating from college, I immediately kicked off my corporate career with this company, and belonged to a unit that managed malls.”
While she acknowledged having learned and developed strong bonds at work, Trixie reached a point where she began to dream of a “new” and “well-lived” life. “Meaning, stress-free days, no deadlines, no phone calls/e-mails/meetings, waking up to a morning without worrying about the day ahead, down to eradicating the simplest and most trivial matter of what to wear for the day,” she said.
“While at work then, I would imagine days spent with my loves, or driving to Tagaytay for a relaxing getaway or simply pursuing my happy passion for beads.”
Since leaving corporate in 2008, Trixie rarely schedules trips to the city. “These days, I spend my time in my semi-provincial abode, while on weekends, I go farther south. In some way, exhaustion from city living would best describe my crazy state four years ago,” she admitted.
“It made great sense then to bid adios to the things I thought were major contributors to stress—horrible traffic, waking up before sunrise, late nights in the office, pollution, congestion, steep parking fees, the corporate brouhaha, commercialism, competition, brand consciousness, the ringing phones, fax messages, the word “urgent” and the battle to plan my wardrobe for the week. I closed my doors on all of it and swore never to look back.”
Being officially unemployed made Trixie feel free and happy. “Since I was (and still am) firm on my plan to stay away from corporate life, my first months were spent doing chores that I missed out for so long. Cleaning, organizing and de-clogging came first. Then, I planned my next steps for my hobby-biz called By Beaded Story (http://bybeadedstory.blogspot.com). I make sure that no pressure is involved as I create bead pieces only when feeling relaxed and inspired,” she said.
Trixie feels grateful and lucky with her “new” life: “It was when my LucKey (key/bag) charms were born,” she said. “I also worked on a few short-term projects, like organizing bazaars mostly held in the south.”
These days, By Beaded Story continues to keep Trixie busy, especially with the holidays. “I join bazaars during the Christmas season,” she said. “Otherwise, my bead works may be found at Sonya’s Garden in Alfonso, Cavite, all year round. I sometimes post and sell online, too. On slow days, I find myself planning for a racket in Tagaytay that I pray will someday come true.”
Single stay-at-home mom
Almira, 36, is a stay-at-home mom to an 8-year-old. She worked 11 years (with a year-long break in between) for a fast-moving consumer goods company before she decided to give it all up.
“I wanted to spend more time with my child, especially during the formative years,” she explained.
This single mother and her child live with her parents. “I love it!” she said. “Is there anything I would have done differently? Maybe win the lotto grand prize before the retirement. Seriously, nothing.”
How did she prepare for it?
“I had no formal plan. I have just always felt that corporate life is not for me. I’ve always dreamt of becoming a stay-at-home mom. So far, so good!”
Almira plans to do this for three years. “Or forever,” she corrected. “I’m now on my third year. We’ll see.”
The former salutatorian’s days are filled with taking her child to school, helping with homework and preparing for exams.
“Heaven” was how she described her days out of corporate. “I used to hate Sundays, but now I love it. It feels like every day is a weekend,” she said. “I appreciate the quality and the quantity of time I get to spend with my child. And, while I miss nothing about the corporate lifestyle, I do miss the financial aspect of not having work. It’s a continuous challenge.”
Mother of three Mel also turned her back on corporate life in 2001. “I was in store operations for about four years. I left because store operations meant working during weekends and holidays. I was starting a family then (my eldest was less than a year old), and I didn’t like not being available to them on these days,” she said.
“I also wanted to witness (and participate in!) my kids’ first everything, hindi ’yong kwento lang ng lola sa phone.”
Per office protocol, Mel had a lead time of 30 days to plan her escape. “But I just winged it,” she said. “It was easy, because I didn’t miss the stress of morning and evening shifts, and servicing the holiday crowd.”
She started to accept work-at-home writing gigs seven years later.
Three years after, Mel is technically back in corporate, but operating from her home. “I work for a US-based e-commerce company with Filipino employees from all over the Philippines.
Work is Mondays-Fridays, eight hours a day. We’ve been likened to a BPO, but not quite, in the sense that we don’t have clients. We communicate directly with our US-based colleagues, and we are part of their corporate organization. So I guess I’m back, but without the office building and office clothes,” she said.
Her children are now 12, 8 and 4 years old. Would she have done anything differently?
“Wala siguro. I have long realized that I am a hands-on mom, so even if there were a regular 8 a.m.-to-5 p.m. job in an office na hindi sa retail or fastfood, I would still leave kasi it would mean ’di ko kasama ang pamilya ko sa mga oras na yon.”
During her periods of unemployment, she had no sideline, and so the family managed to live on her husband’s paycheck. “We didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. Like any family, we managed the budget depending on our needs at the time. There were no drastic changes to make ends meet; we were blessed with more than enough resources,” she said.
These women unapologetically pursued their passions. Some had the good fortune of support from their family, while others continue to be able to contribute to the family’s finances.
While you can quit your day job in corporate, there is no such thing as quitting, holidays or vacations once you decide to become a full-time mom or entrepreneur.
But I’d like to think I’ve replaced what takes up my time with something more meaningful to me.