Career Break Stories: Quitting His 6-figure Job To Empower Malaysians To Build Wealth

Taking a career break can be scary. I can vouch for that because, when I did it, I was stepping into uncharted territory. 

Back then, I didn’t know anyone who did it and there is no guidebook on how to do it. 

Fast forward to today, and the landscape is shifting. 

More people are challenging the status quo, saying no to the relentless hustle culture, and redefining their relationship with work. Career breaks, once viewed with scepticism, are now considered a reasonable choice for those who are burnt out, or those looking to pivot or do something different with their time.

One such person who decided to hit pause on the 9-to-5 is Emir of The Millennial Finance. At 27, Emir made the bold move of quitting his job at Grab to embark on his career break. 

Intrigued by his decision, I spoke with Emir about his story – what inspired him to take the plunge, how he prepared for the break, and what he’s up to during his hiatus.

Q: How long have you been on your career break?

Emir: I quit my corporate job at the end of August 2023 so it’s been about 5 months now. The plan is for this “break” to last indefinitely! 

I don’t currently have any plans to go back to a corporate career so I’m using this to transition into something else. It’s still work, just something outside of what we usually consider careers.

Q: What inspired you to take a career break?

Emir: I had one of those moments where you think about what you wanted to be in 10 years and… it wasn’t really what I was doing at the time. 

My interest has always been more towards finance and I had a YouTube channel talking about personal finance. So I thought why not give that a go full-time while exploring other opportunities within the financial space.

Q: What was your thought process that led you to the decision to take a break at this time (and not any other time)?

Emir: The thought always lingered in my mind, although it shifted from time to time as my life progressed. Initially, I wanted to take this break in my early 30s when I started a family but I decided to take the leap earlier to pursue self-employment. 

Doing this was a risk. No stable income, no benefits of employment, and no guarantee of success. After realising that and discussing it with important people in my life, I decided now was the best time to take this risk as I approach my late 20s.

Q: How did you feel before you took your break? And now, how do you feel as you’re on your break?

Emir: After deciding I was gonna quit and handing in my resignation, I was scared. What if this doesn’t work out? My career was already on a good projection. Do I even have a proper plan?

Honestly, I didn’t. But as time went by and I gave it more thought, I started to piece things together and feel great about things now with more clarity on what I wanna do next.

It’s not set in stone because it’ll depend on how successful I am at certain things but I’ve got multiple backup plans which are all great options too.

Q: What are some things you’re currently doing on your break?

Emir: 3 things I’m working on right now work-wise. First, I’m getting more consistent again with the YouTube channel and expanding my social media presence to Tiktok and X (Twitter).

Second, I’m taking the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) course which will give me a more holistic view of the personal finance space and will allow me to become a financial planner down the line if I want to.

Won’t reveal too much about the third thing for now but it’s in the financial market space, really excited for it!

Honestly, I wanted to take more of a complete break and spend time with friends and family or perhaps travel but these things just popped up so I’ll have to delay that a bit. I’ve definitely had more time for this though.

Q: How did you prepare for your break? What are some financial considerations that you made going into your break?

Emir: My finances were a huge part of it. I knew going into this that my income would likely be lower than my monthly expenses so I had to have enough savings to draw from for my spending despite cutting back a bit.

I also wanted to give myself the best chance of success so I saved up 12 months of my expenses meaning I could go a full year without any income which was a very unlikely scenario.

There are a few other things too which I covered in a YouTube video so you can check it out if you’re interested!

Q: What did your friends and family say when you told them you were going to take a career break?

Emir: Thankfully I’ve always had a strong support system that would back me no matter what. Of course, there were some doubts because this isn’t something people usually do, but at the end of the day, they’d always give their support.

I wouldn’t say it comes blindly though. Like I said earlier I did have quite a bit saved up so I didn’t have to rely on them to go through this. Plus, I already had some plans on what I was gonna do during the break so that gave them the confidence too.

Q: How did you navigate the conversation with your employer before you went on your break?

Emir: Just like how I would quit any job, except this time it wasn’t to go to another company. When I explained why I wanted to do this, my boss put on his “friend cap” and told me he’d do the same.

He even told me that 10 years ago he was in a similar position but never took the leap. Something he kinda regrets till today.

Q: What’s one thing that surprised you or was unexpected about your career break?

Emir: I still worry about money occasionally despite preparing ahead of time and everything going according to plan.

There’s just something about not having a paycheck coming in at the end of every month that can affect you mentally.

Q: Any lessons that you can share with readers about your experience?

Emir: Think about what you want to do and prepare before you leap. Even if you want to just take a break with no plans to generate side income or start your own business, think of what you wanna do with your free time.

Sometimes you feel like you’re just wasting time and being lazy but if you’re checking off everything you planned to do in the first place at least there’s that reassurance.

And your finances… make sure it’s rock solid. It’s not fun to worry about money while you go through this because you don’t want to rush back into a job (that might suck) or even worse – get into debt.

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