Why I said no to a promotion - Twice
Who wouldn't want to get a nice big promotion at work?
The fatter paycheck, better job title, shiny addition to your LinkedIn profile, oohs and aahs of your friends and family - all good reasons to grab that promotion and hold on to it. You'd have to be crazy to turn down the opportunity, right?
Buuut... that's not always the case.
Sometimes you might want to decline the offer - because the timing is not right, you're not ready to take on more responsibility, it's too stressful, or you simply don't want it.
Turning down a promotion may sound and feel like the worst thing you could ever do to your career. What would your boss think? Will they shun you out and ultimately fire you? What would your family say? Will they think that you're an unambitious and a lazy sack of potatoes? Gosh! Should you just man up and take the damn promotion - no matter how miserable it might make you?
The first time my former boss offered me a promotion, I worked towards it for a few months, realized that it wasn't for me, and then turned it down.
The second time he offered me a change in my career path, a new role, which was basically another promotion. I turned it down again - this time immediately.
Everyone around me was questioning - these opportunities were downright golden. Many people wished for chances like these to climb the corporate ladder. Why would you turn them down?
I already worked in a toxic work environment that piled more work on the hardworking employees, and I was one of the hard workers. I was already doing the work of three people. I hardly had any work-life balance. I was exhausted. I was unhappy. I was stressed-out. I had bad migraines, eye problems and back pains. I simply did not want to take on more work.
I probably would've taken it up a few years ago, when I was an entry-level associate. But after seven years of being a corporate employee, I had learnt that nothing good will come from making my life all about work. A promotion would only mean more work on top of what I was already doing. Yes, it will provide more career growth, but at what cost?
Don't get me wrong, I'm very grateful to my boss for recognizing my potential and presenting these opportunities to me. But my decision to turn down the promotions was driven by some very valid reasons, and it ultimately proved to be a step in the right - not wrong - direction.
I didn't want to compromise my physical and mental wellbeing
During the final few months at my former workplace I got a really bad eye problem called Uveitis, which was made worse by high levels of stress. At times the flare-ups were so bad I was unable to even open my eyes. I had to stay in a darkened room all day until the flare-ups subsided. I also had terrible migraines and lower back pain. I was constantly complaining about feeling ill, and I knew the reason was extreme burnout.
I didn't want to spend any more extra time at work
Additional hours at work leads to less or no work-life balance, and I knew it would take a toll on me. I had managed to strike the right balance in my current role. I had enough time at the end of the day to go for a walk, do some reading, enjoy quality time with my loved ones, and work on my hobbies. I didn't want to compromise that.
I liked the work I was currently doing
I enjoyed the work I was doing. It was only exhausting and stressful because the toxic work culture overestimated, overpromised and overworked their people. It was the sheer lack of proper planning. Otherwise, it was quite enjoyable. I had a fun team and interesting tasks. I didn't want it to change.
Turning down a promotion can be difficult and can involve conversations with your bosses which require a lot of tact.
It could also lead to some members in your family, or extended family, judging you and doubting your ambitions. So make sure that you stand by your decision and don't let them get to you.
It certainly helps to have a close circle who support you, listen to you and who you can get good advise from.
My husband and my parents were supper supportive in my decisions to turn down these promotions. They understood and respected my priorities, and they saw the toll this job was taking on me.
But most importantly, you are the only person who can decide what's best for you. So listen to what everyone has to say, but do what you feel is right for you. Whatever decision you make, thing it through thoroughly and make sure it's what's right for you.
And don't ever, ever take a promotion for social pressure, peer pressure or whatever, if you don't want to take it.