Less Money for Less Stress ?

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Here’s the proverbial question – would you sacrifice pay for less stress at work? I remember the colleague of mine who resigned abruptly last year because he couldn’t take the stress when his boss went on extended sick leave. Being the back-up hence the acting head, he wasn’t used to the pressure and the after hours and weekend calls when things didn’t go right at the office. I asked him – “why the sudden resignation?” He replied “look, I can lose my job but not my family”. It was a bold decision for a breadwinner to resign rather swiftly. We would normally ask our spouse to bear with the “inconvenience” or make a bit of sacrifice. Some spouses can while others can’t. No need to rationalize here – that’s just fact of life. It is just tragic when stress at work spills right into the center of family life and strains the spousal relationship. My colleague had apparently a job available for him at his uncle’s internet-based business. Clearly he won’t be making as much money with the new job but at least he didn’t have to kill himself with stress and be around when his family needs him.

Getting a bit more personal now, my wife was in the same dilemma last year when she just got sick and tired of the stress – the ever increasing sales quotas, irate customers on the phone, the long 2.5 hours daily commute. She finally decided she had enough and took a 4 month stress leave with pay which gave her the breather she really needed. We both agreed that she need not agonize over the job and she can resign, rest and find a less stressful job elsewhere when she felt like working again.. When the time came for her to go back, she told the boss she can’t do the same job anymore. The short end of the story is the company moved her to a branch 5 minutes drive from our house which is great because she can take our little girl to school and have lunch at home daily. She’s now working 30 hours a week instead of 37.5 – no more aggressive quotas, no more long commutes and expensive train and subway tickets, no more irate customers on the phone. In short, she took a step down with her career and pay to achieve more balance with work and family life. Besides, if we were to put a dollar value on stress and aggravation, it could very well compensate for the paycheck loss. Less money for less stress is a very challenging proposition but in the end, it could be a win situation when you put value on the intangibles and the prospect of preserving and maintaining your sanity. Less money for less stress – how does this grab you if I may ask?

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