For a long time, it was a “yes”. For a few years, I was pulled in by the fiscal lure. There are no manuals for someone who grows up having less to suddenly land at a juncture of having more. So I had to be my own guide.

While I was saying “yes”, I was afforded opportunities that I had known only as unaffordable. I had a chance to live out and explore my heart, and the unusual circumstances that make up my life. For the time I said “yes”, I am grateful for the people and things that subtly shaped my subconscious mind and what I learned about myself in the process of learning about others.

But I was not the first one to say “no”. I found both the closure I needed after a frustrating final year, and the luck to find a better way to live according to my values through my work.

So it was surprising when the conversation restarted after so long. It caught me off-guard for a number of reasons. Of most interest to me, I had never valued my community management work in an annual salary range like that. This experience put the value of my work into perspective; the context of the “who” is also significant in this way. Not only did it change my perspective on the value of this work, but it made me aware to what the upper bounds of salary ranges may look like for those privileged few organizations with huge talent development budgets and incentive programs.

Why?

But this stroke of fate also made me question my “why”. Why do I do what I do? For what or for whom do I do it for? These are deep questions that I have a privilege of asking myself. When I looked inward and sought to understand my feelings, I knew that I measure employment offers in my ability to live with an abundant heart. The salary range is secondary.

Every day, I wake up and get to ask how my daily work and practice impacts the lives of children. While there is more complexity and metrics in play, the ultimate purpose of what I do is centered first on real human impact, not stock prices and operational profit. There is no salary in any dollar range that I would trade for what I have.

So this time, it was my turn to say no. Not out of spite, nor out of anger. But the seasons I have changed, and so have I. My old leaves have fallen and new ones are in their place. I am grateful for the mentorship and guidance I received for those years I said “yes”. As alluring as it is may be to imagine a 250% pay increase…

I’m happy to continue making good from where I am with the things I already have.