I Quit The Opportunity Of A Lifetime For Something Money Can't Buy


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 cases while raking in renewals?

I could've been a millionaire business owner at 25. My retirement would've been clenched by the time I turned 30. I could then have done whatever I wanted. Here's why I backed out.

Life is worth more than the sum total dollars you bring home while on this earth. This is obviously not a new revelation, but it is critical to the decision-making process. When cash is the primary motivator, other important aspects of our lives go by the wayside.

There's only so much effort to expend each day. Thus, when the focus is increased in one area (making money or growing a career), focus inevitably decreases in other areas to make room. Spouses, family, friends, morales are lessened or neglected for this material passion.

Life is also worth more than the sum of our experiences. It's not all about having fun or achievements. Philosophically, you can argue that life is equal to the sum of our experiences, by definition. However, 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 that those older than I am look back on wishing they'd chosen?

Life, or 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 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. Its worth is found in what we experience together in community with others.

Its value is found in how we positively affect those around us, how we are able to offer up our own skill sets for the good of those passing us on the street or sitting in the car next to us at the red light.

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 is to put the majority or all of our efforts into something fleeting which does not utilize our strengths, which does not allow me or you to be fulfilled through service.

It is wasteful to be so consumed by anything it takes away from other priorities. It is disastrous to allow one particular passion to be the reason for neglect of other very important things in our lives.

I quit the opportunity of a lifetime because, no matter how grand the dollar signs and prestige seemed, 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, a resounding, "Yes!" But, my strengths are better able to be utilized elsewhere, in form and fashion so I can be more fulfilled in doing more for more people. It seems a simple choice, really.

What are your strengths? Which things are you passionate about, which your daily grind has worn you out for so long you've almost given up on entirely? What are you passionate about, which has consumed other areas of your life?

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, it's time for reconsideration.

This content originally published at Kenneth D. Burke's personal blog,, which can be found here.