8 People Who Chose Meaningful Lives Over High-Paying Jobs

Long term happiness can’t be purchased and long-term success doesn’t come in the form of promotion.

Long term happiness and success require taking chances that don’t even feel like ‘risks’; chances that come as an inner voice, which says that the chair you are sitting in will probably never satisfy your dreams…which says that the amount on your cheque will probably never give you more than one blissful night sleep.

Following are the inspiring stories that come from regular people like you and I. But, what sets them apart as inspiring is that they never measured success in terms of making numbers in their offices, instead, they worked hard for those who really needed their skilled expertise. Simply speaking, they chose to do something meaningful over making big bucks.

1. IIM grad Shuvajit Payne gave up his London job to work for farmer welfare

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Career history: Graduated in economics from the renowned Presidency college of Kolkata, then pursued an MBA degree in Finance and Marketing from IIM-Lucknow, and then left for London to earn some good pounds working in corporate culture.

But when the pot of achievements was filled, a sense of emptiness crawled upon him when a desire to do something meaningful hit him.

And so the plot of his life changed (for good).

“I dream of rural India where every village will become a self-sufficient entity, every village will have inspiring teachers and are developed in terms of social happiness.” -Shuvajit Payne

Shuvajit is distressed over farmers being ill-treated due to lack of literacy in villages. He wants to make sure that the farmers get their fair share. Also, farmers’ kids desire to go to big cities and don’t want to adopt farming as a profession, which causes problems with food security, overpopulation in cities, and food inflation. Shuvajit wishes to resolve this issue.

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2. Abhishek Singhania gave up a lucrative job in an MNC to work for food security in villages

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Career history: Abhishek Singhania, a graduate in metallurgy from IIT Madras-2012, left a high-paying job at the multinational PricewaterhouseCoopers. A few months into his job, he was sent on an assignment in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, but came back to India in 2014.

“There was no problem with the consultant’s job as such but an inner voice kept pestering me that I was not meant for this. I needed to do something else,”– Abhishek Singhania told rediff.com

Now, he works as an analyst of meals safety with researchers at IIT-Kharagpur, in Khentia village, Bengal.

He joined a team of IIT researchers at Kharagpur, who adopted farmlands near the campus to experiment and help increase yield. About the project, Singhania said, “They need the right people to guide them at every stage of farming and marketing. I am trying to make this model a sustainable one so that once we leave they are able to do everything on their own,”

The team introduced a new technology called SRI, which uses water and pesticides in lesser quantity but increases rice yield. They have also promoted crop diversification by teaching farmers, skills to grow cash crops like sweet corn, soybean, and peanut.

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3. Pratibha Krishnaiah gave up a comfortable job at Thomson Reuters for betterment of women in rural India

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Career history: Dissatisfied, she quit working for Thomson Reuters. Because she felt…

“Money is not the most important thing in life. Though my job profile was good, I felt burnt out. I wanted to be close to nature and work dedicatedly in the villages and the SBI’s fellowship looked liked a magical opportunity.”- Praitbha told IndiaAbroad (a rediff.com company).

The dwellers of the mountains deemed her to be crazy for giving up on a comfortable city life. She too found the initial days taxing. But gradually, she settled well.

Now, she gets up 4:30 every morning and walks up the hill to meet women living in the rural areas. She guides women in Khetikhan, Tapni Pal and Dhat villages with ways that can make them more productive and fetch them money without compelling them to leave their families every day to nearby town, to earn a livelihood.

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4. Vishal Talreja quit his career with investment banking company to raise funds for charitable trusts

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Career history: Investment banker

Vishal Talreja left an impressive job of an investment banker to build a network of volunteers that helps vulnerable children lead a normal childhood. Talreja’s initiative “Dream A Dream” is strengthening bonds with businesses, organizations, and institutions, that are interested in enriching lives of children who are affected with fatal diseases like HIV-positive, cancer, and any and every child that comes from disadvantaged background. He helps in fund raising to help such children lead a normal childhood.

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5. Shalini Krishnan too left the luxuries behind to teach tribal children in Odisha

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Career history: A graduate from NID, Krishnan left a lucrative job in a corporative firm.

It was when she visited an NGO, Gram Vikas in Odisha, she realized how immensely artistic and creative were the tribal children who studied there. But, upset with the fact that there was no platform to display and nourish their talents, she saw an opportunity and started a design studio, “Kalpanadham”. Today, she teaches the nuances of art to nearly 20 tribal children and 2 teachers in her studio.

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6. Nupur Ghuliani left her CA course midway to develop an environment-friendly fuel for rural homes

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Career history: After finishing her Bachelors in Commerce, she thought of pursuing Chartered Accountancy. She had even cleared the first round and then picked up an internship in the well-known Ernst & Young. But, the fields of social entrepreneurship and rural development were where her heart was.

In Kherwada block of Rajasthan, Nupur’s focus was on developing an alternative fuel because the sight of women carrying 30 kg of wood daily for a month to generate a year full of fuel, was too disheartening. The extreme firewood usage was also resulting in the loss of forest cover in the area, and the smoke it emitted was triggering respiratory issues.

Nupur had no idea as to how to go about finding an alternative fuel. But, her urge to reverse the current scenario for good was strong enough, so she researched, met people, read books, and got her basics right and eventually created biomass briquettes (using dry leaves and sawdust).

Ghuilani says,

“The last 7 months have taught me more than what I learnt in the last 4 years. Going back to a corporate job probably cannot give me the satisfaction that I get now. After taking up the fellowship, I realised that we can live without a television, AC or any other material luxuries. I want to do well by doing good,”

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7. Bangalore couple gave up well-paying IT jobs to start a special library, which also invites underprivileged children

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Being from IT Backgrounds, Umesh and Vimala Malhotra got to travel a lot abroad where they found the library culture quite impressive, and consequently was born the idea of “Hippocampus”. Hippocampus is a library+friendly space for children, in Kormangala area, Bangalore. The motive is to make children more inclined towards reading. They have also come up with a program where they welcome underprivileged children who go to government schools, but lack fluency in reading.

To indiatodayin, Umesh Malhotra said,

“I was getting tired of expressions such as ‘creating wealth’ and ‘adding value’.”

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8. Anirudh Prasadh is a Chemical Engineer who quit his Job to support the efforts of millet farmers in rural TN

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Career history: After finishing his engineering, Anirudh Prasadh went to Manchester to pursue Masters in Chemical Process Design, before coming back to a great job in India.

But, the monotony of travelling to and fro from work in Mumbai introduced him to a harsh truth of life.- He didn’t like how people in India find sense in accustoming to problems and prefer settling for easy temporary solutions.

And, unlike most people who play it safe by keeping fallback ready before quitting their job, Anirudh didn’t think twice when his heart gave up on beating for his regular job. After three months of staying unemployed and figuring out which way to head, his new work took him to Kolli Hills, TN, where he worked to reduce the cost of Millet packaging. And his efforts did pay off when the cost of packaging went down by 40%. Not only that, the millet packets now (sold in 35 places in TN) look more attractive than before and hence, are receiving a better buyer response.

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More than anything else, these people teach that there’s never a wrong time to do the right thing. And especially when it comes to putting a smile on someone else’s face, every time is the right time, no matter where you are at and how stuck you feel. 🙂

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