Days before reaching the one year mark for my employment with the nation’s most respected Fortune 500 financial planning firm, I chose to “pursue other avenues.” The hardest part of my career – the first year building a practice from scratch – was already over. Why wouldn’t I continue to hang on, eagerly fishing for larger and larger cases while raking in renewals? I could’ve been a millionaire business owner at twenty-five. My retirement would’ve been clenched by the time I turned thirty. Here’s why I backed out.
Life is worth more than the sum total dollars you bring home while on this earth.
Life is also worth more than the sum of our experiences.
Philosophically, life is equal to the sum of our experiences. However, its worth – the value of a human life – is far greater than what we experience alone.
But I’m not here to be existential, I’m here to talk about me. Why did I quit the financial opportunity of a lifetime, a career opportunity others older than I look back on wishing they’d chosen?
Life – the time each of us spends in community on this planet – is more than what I can do for me. It is more than what I can do for my wife. It is more than what I can do for my kids.
The value of life – here’s where I want you to pay attention. The value of my life, of your life, is in how we affect others. It is founded in how we use our strengths to benefit the fallen world around us.
It is not wrong to make a lot of money. It is not wrong to work our tails off to make a name for ourselves, whatever each of us chooses to do.
What is wrong, what is wasteful, is to put the majority or all of our efforts into something fleeting, that does not utilize our strengths, that does not allow me or you to be fulfilled through service.
I quit the opportunity of a lifetime because, no matter how grand the dollar signs and prestige seem, my career was a hindrance to me using my particular strengths to benefit those around me.
Do people need the planning services I was providing? One hundred times, resounding, “yes!” But my strengths are able to be utilized elsewhere in form and fashion so that I can be fulfilled in doing more for more people, rather than being miserable making more money.
What are your strengths?
What are you passionate about, that your daily grind has worn you out for so long you’ve almost given up on entirely?
What are your priorities?
Where can you be the best fit?
What are you doing to simultaneously fulfill yourself and serve others?
Maybe you’re exactly where you need to be. But maybe – just maybe – it’s time for reconsideration.
Kenneth D. Burke