I Turned Down A 6-Figure Salary Promotion

The reasons had nothing to do with the job itself

May Tang
3 min readJan 19, 2021


Photo by Volkan Olmez on Unsplash

Last spring, I was offered a managerial position with a six-figure salary and after careful consideration, I declined the offer.

It didn’t take long for the office chatter to spread around with other managers asking me to reconsider, and colleagues wondering why I passed up the offer.

When the offer was first presented to me, it immediately felt different from other offers I’ve received in the past, where I was excited about the opportunity.

This time, it felt like a burden.

I didn’t decline the offer right away. I wanted to give myself time to consider it, but in my gut, I already knew.

Here are my reasons for declining a six-figure salary promotion:

1. For a better work-life balance

For most of my life, I’ve struggled with saying “No”. As a people-pleaser and perfectionist, I often find myself in less-than-desirable situations because I can’t say “no”.

Over the years, I trained others to expect a certain level of performance and compliance from me, leaving me to suffer the consequences of my own doing in the form of extended work hours, added stress, and anxiety.

One of my intentions for 2020 was to establish workplace boundaries, and declining the promotion was an opportunity to make good on that intention.

A few months after declining the promotion, I also chose to leave the position I was occupying at the time to take on another position (a lateral move) that required minimal over time and allowed for more flexible work arrangements.

2. To focus on my health

2019 and 2020 were challenging years for me health-wise. Between chronic pain, weight gain, digestion issues, a diagnosis of depression and anxiety, and having shingles twice in 6 months, I was (and still am) mentally and physically exhausted.

My decision to turn down the promotion was my commitment to put my health above all else.

With a more standard work schedule and the ability to work from home, I’ve been able to be more consistent in my nutrition, treatment plans and rest.

3. For self-discovery

My identity and sense of self has always been very closely linked to my work. The majority of my adult life has been spent developing my career, and I neglected to nurture my personal life for years.

At the start of 2020, I had planned to discover new hobbies, but the pandemic put a bit of a damper on those plans.

Instead, I’ve been using my downtime to read personal development books and think about changes I want to make to live a more meaningful and intentional life.

One area I’ve been interested to explore is creative self-expression. I’ve been wanting to write for over 3 years, but I let my fears and insecurities get the best of me. Six months into the pandemic, I decided to hire a writing coach (Julia Rose), to help me move past my fears and start my writing journey.

Not only has writing been therapeutic for me, but it has also opened up a whole new area of curiosity and discovery for me.

Had I taken the job, I likely would not have had the time or energy to pursue my interests and would have probably sat idle for another 3 years.

Have you turned down a promotion before? If so, what were your reasons for doing so?



May Tang

I write about overcoming perfectionism, self-care, and finding my way to happiness.