Why I was fine with not getting a job promotion

As working adults, many of us would be happy with getting a job promotion. Some of us are even willing to work long hours in hopes of getting promoted.

I mean what’s not to like? A job promotion typically comes with a higher salary, higher recognition and respect in the organisation that one works in. This can also lead to better opportunities in both work and life.

However, are there instances where getting a job promotion isn’t that great?

In this post, I will detail how I was totally fine with not getting a job promotion. As a matter of fact, I felt I was better off not having that promotion. But first, let me provide some context…

A career fast track

Sometime in 2016, I was given the opportunity of applying for a sponsored degree programme. Graduates of the programme would be given a chance to fast track their career and climb the ranks. It was the equivalent of jumping from an entry-level employee to a junior managerial position.

Naturally, I applied for that programme as I saw it as a chance to upgrade myself, both educationally and also for my career. To my surprise and delight, I successfully enrolled for the degree programme.

The answer that literally ended it

Fast forward to 2019, after graduating from the programme, I was given an interview by the organisation to assess my eligibility for promotion.

The interview was the typical run of the mill kind of interview where I was asked questions such as “What are some of the challenges faced by the organisation?”, “How can such challenges be overcome?” etc etc. One of the questions asked was whether I see myself staying in the organisation for the long term. I think it was at this question that I literally closed the door on the opportunity.

I still remembered my reply was somewhere along the lines of “For now yes, but in the future, I will only stay if I find meaning and purpose in the job”. My reply was almost similar to giving a middle finger to the higher management of the organisation. Needless to say, I did not succeed in my interview.

Now you might be wondering why I did such a stupid move during the interview. Well, there were a couple of reasons actually.

1) My decision to leave the organisation

When I initially applied for the degree programme, I was pretty committed to continuing my career in the organisation. However, during the course of my degree programme, I started thinking about leaving the organisation.

What changed, you might ask. Well, I guess what I learnt during the 3 years in the degree programme really opened my eyes and influenced my perspectives and thoughts about how I want my life to be. It also led to a re-calibration of my goals and aims in life.

However, at this juncture, the decision to leave the organisation or not was still pretty much 50-50.

It was only when I went back to work after graduating from the programme that I made up my mind to leave after fulfilling the bond. Yes, there was still a small matter of fulfilling a 4-year bond that came with the completion of my studies. There is, after all, no free lunch in the world.

What led me to make up my mind about leaving? Let’s just say, returning to work reminded me how my colleagues and I are often mere pawns, to be fully exploited and used, in the fulfilment of organisational aims and goals. Furthermore, I also disliked the long and irregular hours and could not justify the sacrifices that come with it.

As such, I did not see any point in trying for a promotion where I would be continuing with the same lifestyle and definitely working longer hours for the next 4 years.

2) A fixed path for the foreseeable future

Besides my decision to leave the organisation, I also disliked the fixed path after promotion.

If I had been promoted, the next 4 years of my working life would pretty much be set in stone. I would first be spending at least 2 years in position A and at least another 2 years in position B, before having more choices and options in shaping my own career path.

This pre-determined type of career path, coupled with the long working hours and commitment needed in positions A and B, made me felt that the promotion was not really desirable.

Now, this might sound a bit cliche but I very much prefer living my life according to the decisions I make, rather than those that are made by others. To me, life is too short to pursue the aspirations of others instead of ourselves.

As such, a pre-determined career path, especially one which does not align with my goals and aims in life, was really of no appeal to me.

3) A massive commitment of time

By now you would have realised that I mentioned the issue of time commitment a few times in this post. You might wonder how bad is it right?

Well, think of it as being on continual standby even during your supposed non-working hours. Working long hours is also deemed as a norm as extra work needs to be done even after the stipulated working hours. As such, it is not uncommon to see people sleeping over at the office till the next day.

In addition to everyday work, extra projects would also be assigned due to the nature of the position that is held. The organisation needs to, after all, justify the higher salary that is paid.

It was almost this complete demand of my time from the organisation that made me felt ok with not getting that promotion. In my eyes, I did not feel that the higher salary justifies the amount of time and effort that comes with it. Furthermore, I also did not want to allocate so much time and effort into working for an organisation that I would be leaving in the future.

4) Pursuing growth outside of my job

Besides the higher salary not justifying the extra time and effort, the increased time commitment also reduces my opportunity to pursue other interests outside of my job.

In this day and age, I feel that everyone should dedicate some time, outside of their daily jobs, into developing a side hustle that truly means something to them. This can include learning new skills, such as painting or cooking, or even new languages.

The idea of developing a side hustle is to provide one with a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction. Of course, there is also the added bonus of potentially monetising a side hustle. As such, developing a side hustle can be very beneficial in terms of providing extra income and meaning in life.

With that, you can now see why the extra working hours that come with the promotion is so unappealing to me. Needless to say, if I had been promoted, this blog would most likely not have been created at all. Being a procrastinator, I knew that I would not have had the energy or time to write new blog posts regularly.

Yes, I might not make that much money in the short term. However, over the long term, I feel that I will gain and learn so much more than if I had taken the promotion.

Concluding thoughts

So there you have it, the main reasons why I was totally fine with not getting that job promotion. Now you might get the impression that I am romanticising the idea of not being promoted. Or that I am making myself feel good by saying that I prioritise passion and growth over money.

I can totally understand that.

The truth is that by turning down my chance of a promotion, I was letting go of a potential sizable increase to my yearly income. While the salary gap is partially mitigated by my anniversary bonuses, the difference still amounts to around 8k a year. Quite a substantial amount if you ask me.

Now, I am not saying that we should all not desire job promotions. Rather, we have to know what are our priorities in life.

Like all decisions in life, we have to bear the good and the bad that comes with it. I was fine with not getting a job promotion as I felt I would grow more and also potentially earn more down the road if I was to focus on developing my skills and interests. Will I be right or will I regret my decision in the future? Well, I guess only time will tell.

On that note, I would also like to emphasize that there is nothing wrong with aiming to climb the corporate ladder. We just have to balance working for ourselves and working for organisations.

At the end of the day, we should all aim to have a life with as little regrets as possible.

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