Counting the Cost

I was offered a really great job recently. It’s at a fantastic company; the people seem great. It would be an upward move, career-wise. There are paid vacation days, holidays and health benefits. On top of all that, I would make twice my current salary. And, I didn’t accept the offer.

I didn’t turn it down because the offer wasn’t good or because I didn’t want the job; and I didn’t make the decision lightly. The choice had huge implications for me and my family. I agonized over this decision. There were tears of frustration and plenty of flip flopping. I felt torn. At times, I had no idea how I was going to make the decision or how to know if I was making the right one.

It all came down to something pretty simple: counting the cost. I had to determine what I really want my life to look like and what is really important to me. I had to figure out what I would gain or sacrifice in the choosing.

View from my office on campus. This picture was taken before Thanksgiving!

View from my office on campus. This picture was taken before Thanksgiving!

I currently work at a private university. I work 36 hours, 44 weeks a year. They also provide vacation time, holidays and benefits. I will never get financially rich working here. I have great bosses and I work with some truly remarkable people. The best part of the job: my daughters attend this university. That one fact is what brought my decision into focus.

I know what I want my life to look like now. I want to be available. I want to have the time and the opportunity to invest in the people and things that really matter. My current job allows me that luxury. The other day, my youngest daughter was sick, really sick. Because of my job, I was able to walk across campus, buy her soup and take it to her at her dorm. While I was there I made her some tea, gave her a hug and made sure she had everything she needed. After that I walked back to my office. This all took place in a matter of minutes.

That may seem like a pretty insignificant reason for giving up a great career opportunity, but I don’t think it is. I’m willing to bet that when I am gone and my daughter remembers me, she’s not going to remember what my salary was or who I worked for; I think she will remember that I brought her soup and made her tea. And that is the legacy I want to have. I want my life to have been more than the sum of my achievements or paycheck. To put it in the words of Grandpa George from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: “Only a dummy would give this up for something as common as money.”

Don’t get me wrong, part of me really wanted that prestigious job, but a bigger part of me wanted more. I have no idea if another opportunity like that will come my way again. If it doesn’t, I’ll just have to trust that it wasn’t supposed to be part of my journey. And I think I’m okay with that.

My Uncle once told me: “I can always make more money, but I can’t make more time.” Based on those words of wisdom, I think I picked the opportunity with the best return.

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