Tough times don't last but tough people do. How does one bounce back from a setback and grow from it? This month, The Style Atelier features the inspiring story of Ms Lam Yi Lee, senior financial consultant, former Public Service Commission (PSC) scholar and repeat qualifier of the Million Dollar Round Table. She shares how she rebuilt her life from heartbreak and empowers other single moms like herself to live their best lives.
TSA: We know that you had a successful career before you took a career break for your daughter. How’s life as a mommy?
Yes, I worked in education for six years on a PSC scholarship and was teaching economics in a Junior College. Then I made a career switch and became a Chartered Financial Consultant. I excelled in my work, qualified as a member of Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) for several years, before taking a break to care for my daughter, Jade. Making the personal choice to have Jade as a single, unmarried mother would set my life on a totally different trajectory. My pregnancy was unexpected; but now that I have Jade, I’d not trade having Jade in my life for anything in the world.
I will be the first to confess though- sometimes, I compensate by being too indulgent with her. My relationship with my then partner did not work out and I struggled initially with raising a child as a single mum. So giving in to Jade and being soft with her when she misbehaves was my way of compensating my guilt of not being able to provide the best for Jade as I had hope for.
Till today, I am still learning how to strike that balance. But I am at peace knowing that we seek improvement, not perfection. In my hardest moments as a single parent, I had to tell myself to soldier on. To live each day the best I knew how, and continue to keep going on.
TSA: What were some difficulties that you had to overcome as a single mom?
YL: In Jade's earlier years, I was not in a good emotional space. I was floundering as a new mum as well as confronting judgement from others as I had a child out of wedlock.
I took some time off from work as I needed to care for a newborn as well as to navigate through all the changes and uncertainties that poured into my life. Raising a child is expensive; my savings were depleting quickly with increased expenses. Feeling strapped financially was awful.
I wished I could be with Jade all the time, yet the fear of not having the financial security to provide for my child also weighed heavily on me.
TSA: Today, you are thriving again as a Senior Financial Consultant, and even qualified for the Million Dollar Round Table this year. How did you overcome the earlier challenges?
YL: Today, I have returned to full work commitment as a chartered financial consultant. For eight years after I left the teaching career, I worked as a financial consultant and have been a repeat qualifier for the Million Dollar Round Table for many years. Now, I am proud to say that I have achieved the Million Dollar Round Table again. I have bought Jade and I our own home, and Jade has been enrolled in Primary One. Ironically, what I’ve always thought pulled me away from family life is the thing that helped me get the life that I want. I always thought that I had to choose between work and family. But invariably, when you ask that question, you end up being the loser. I rediscovered my passion in helping others through my career as a financial consultant. I thrive at my work, and that is instrumental to me regaining my confidence. When my clients tell me how much they appreciate how I value-add to their insurance portfolio and coverage, I feel so gratified!
TSA: What is an advice that you’d like to share with other single moms?
YL: To fellow single moms out there, I want to give you a special shout-out! You rock, and you’ve got to tell yourself that! While we devote our lives to our children, please remember to take time to care for yourself. And to be open to friendships and romance. We do our best for the children in the years they need us, but eventually they have their lives to lead too. It will be awesome if we are still a very close part of their lives in future, but we do not wish to hold them back as well. We can achieve this delicate balance and the ability to let go if we have our independent lifestyle, our own friends and our life partner to experience the next chapter of ‘retirement’. Focus on being a strong individual such that when 2 persons come together, we get 1+1=3 (no pun intended but I guess in my case that is true, since I come with daughter in tow.) See, having a sense of humour is helpful to tide us through some rough patches too!
TSA: Since you are the financial expert, what is a piece of financial advice that you want to share with women?
Jokes aside, being a single mom is like performing a full Cirque du Soleil all by yourself. In fact, most women, regardless of their status, juggle multiple roles. For the show to go on, we need to be wise in saving and growing our money and resources. I am building up a secure nest and retirement plan so that my loved ones will not be devastated by any crisis or unfortunate circumstances. This year, I am 42 years old. Naysayers may say that the forties is the start of the sunset years, and one runs higher risks of developing critical illnesses. But I say that my forties is the time when I finally come into my own, and I will be the best role model for my daughter. I want to be better and live healthier, so that I can be there for Jade, no matter what comes our way.
Watch Yi Lee Share Via The Style Atelier Live!
Changes to ‘Critical Illness’ Definition: How Does It Affect You?
Date: 10 August 2020, Monday
8 to 8.30pm via Instagram Live or
8.30 to 9pm via Facebook Live.
Do You Know?
The Life Insurance Association (LIA) of Singapore has announced that changes will be made to the definition of critical illness in life insurance policies with effect from 26 August 2020. Question is, how would this change affect your insurance coverage and claim?
Yi Lee, an experienced Senior Financial Consultant will meet with you online to offer the lowdown on illness protection:
Why is it important to have illness coverage?
Do you have adequate illness coverage?
How much is “adequate”?
Does the change in ‘Critical Illness’ definition mean that we should look into increasing our coverage before 26 August?
Premiums increase in times of Covid
Simple tips and tricks for cashflow planning, dealing with involuntary retirement and dollar cost averaging
There will also be a live Q&A session where Yi Lee answers your queries. To attend, RSVP today!
This programme is part of The Style Atelier Live! Series, brought to you by The Style Atelier.
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