I just made a phone call that most people would tell me was crazy. I turned down a great job at a wonderful company for a lot of money (please don’t tell my father!) At this point you’re asking if I’m crazy or just independently wealthy. I can tell you I’m neither. Let me walk you through this decision in hopes that it might provide some insight for choices you face in your life.
A couple years before I came out to California I sat down and put some great thought into the question, if I could work at any company, which one would it be and why? I came up with two corporations, both were chosen for their culture and my perception of their top level leadership. I wanted to spend some time in a company that I admired to learn from the inside out ideas I would want to incorporate in running my own company some day.
I applied to the companies I had chosen and after a couple years a job opened and I was hired. It was a wonderful and eye-opening experience and I learned volumes about how they interpreted work/life balance, treated employees, customers and even the competition. I obtained much of the information I sought while also building my own business in my spare time. During this year it became clear that my time was becoming increasingly more important to me, and working for a purpose was creating such joy in my life I wanted to do more than I could fit in my schedule while working for a corporation.
The day came for me to leave the admired company and I was immediately courted by another great company, different from the two I originally considered, but a great company nonetheless. I was not looking to stay in “Corporate America”, but I believed I had to at least consider the option and see if I could continue to fit both a job with them and my own business into my days. After several interviews and discussions with the company the offer came in at a great figure with incredible benefits. They offered me everything I could want and more – everything that is except for time.
It is ironic that they actually helped me come to this decision unknowingly. I was asked by one interviewer, what makes you get out of bed in the morning? Believe it or not, the answer was not corporate law, it was to make a difference. In the final discussion I had with the HR representative, it was asked that I consider if my extracurricular activities were where I wanted to direct my life or was I interested in growing my paralegal career?
My final answer is I am building a career out of my extracurricular activities because to me that is the life I want to live. My someday has arrived. Today, I coach people through life transitions and help entrepreneurs grow their businesses. I may make tons of money or I may just get by financially, but I know that as I move through my days I am excited to wake up in the morning. I know that what I do each day is making a difference in the lives of others. I know that I am able to spend time with people I love and care about because I am not beholden to some corporate schedule.
The decision to follow the path I feel I am called to and to spend my days in the manner which brings me fulfillment is not a safe choice. I know I am risking not having the backing of a large company with benefits and financial means. I do believe I am making a contribution to others by coaching more than I ever could as a corporate paralegal. If I am correct in my beliefs, I will have plenty of money to live my life as I choose and be in charge of my time. If I’m not right in this choice, I will have spent some time living life as I wished, and I can go back to a 9-5 job knowing that I tried something I felt compelled to do and made a difference in at least a few lives.
I encourage you to take stock in your current situation and review if you might be compromising one thing you value for something of less importance. I encourage you to ask the question, what makes you get out of bed in the morning and find a way to do more of that.