Leaving the ‘N’ – Why I went from banking to baking

I thought I had it all figured out. I was living the typical Singapore success narrative — work hard at school, get a good college degree, enter a graduate management associate program in finance and track up the corporate ladder. I wanted to make my parents proud and life was going according to plan.

And then, the pandemic happened. Life changed course for many — including me.

@Whiskdom, a baking side hustle I’ve been running on Instagram, began to grow and take on a life of its own. I had increasing orders by the day and was selling out within seconds each week. I would work my day job in the day then bake to fulfil orders in the evenings. On weekends, I did my product photoshoot and worked on developing new flavours whenever I could find time in between. Between my day job and my night hustle, I was effectively working 16–20 hours daily. Severely lacking sleep, I was on the brink of a burnout. There were days I felt so fatigue I could not think straight and for someone who gave 100% to everything I do, it came to a point where I knew I had to make a decision between my professional career and running my passion project.

Switching from back-to-back zoom calls everyday to dedicating my time doing something I love? Easy choice? Not so easy.

When I was deliberating on my decision to quit, friends and coworkers showed a lot of concern

“Why rock the boat in a time like now? We are in the middle of a pandemic you know?”

“Why don’t you just keep it on the side?”

“So many f&b closures due to Covid, you sure you can maintain the momentum?”

“What is going to happen if it doesn’t work out?”

I was afraid and fearful. "What if they were right? I couldn’t afford to fail", I thought to myself. I decided to stay on and wait things out but remained deeply unsettled.

My mentor (then manager) sent me a message one evening

“… how will you persevere when the going remains tough for a sustained period of time .. like now in the times of Covid when the going is likely to be tough across everywhere. You have never seen a downturn in your career… So what will it take for you to build that intent to persevere when the time’s are not great but you continue to push through… not because of promotions, bonus or hikes but because there is a sense of larger purpose, a sense of greater fulfillment, learning and life accomplishments which is very different from just career accomplishments…”

A message sent in a very different context (I didn’t tell him I was contemplating to quit at that time because #careersuicide obviously) but it really got me to think deeper about purpose and what it means to live a life well-lived.

Then I turned to Google “What do people regret most when they die?” Guess what?

Nobody regrets not working hard enough.

Nobody regrets not getting that promotion.

Nobody regrets not making enough money.

So what do they regret the most?

Not spending time with people they love.

Not living a life on their own terms.

Not living out their own dreams and most of all, for chasing the wrong things in life.

It was then I decided to stop looking outward for validation and started seeking for the answers within me. I knew I had the answer all along. I was just afraid of it. But what have I got to lose really? 2 years of my life in exchange for 2 years of experience starting up? The last thing I wanted was to look back a decade into my career and realize that I have been working far too long for a high-paying banking career without at least trying to do something I love. I didn’t want to live with the uncertainty of “What if I gave Whiskdom a shot?”. We miss 100% of the shots we didn’t take and I didn’t want to miss out on this one. When normalcy is restored, my newfound fulfilment meant it would be impossible to go back to corporate life without feeling a deep void.

It is scary to leave a life of comfort but even scarier is the thought of living a life that has been planned out for you (and not by you) and truth is sometimes we don’t have all the plans. I got no idea where life will take me from here — but the beauty in being bold enough to dream is that you get to dream a dream from blank canvas.

I made the decision to drop the “N” in banking to pursue my passion for baking.

Cause’ Life is too short to worry about the cookie you didn’t eat.

Whiskdom is an independent bakehouse located in sunny Singapore serving up massive soft baked ooey gooey cookies and oozing brownies. We make everything in-house from scratch daily with only the finest ingredients, handpicked from around the world and it leaves us with a warm fuzzy feeling when you tell us they left a smile on your face.
www.whiskdom.com