Count Your Pebbles to Find Best Career Advice

Think it’s not practical to begin following your passions due to the “cost of living?” Then let me start off by encouraging you to honestly “count up the costs” of not trying.

Recently, the field of teaching has come under fire as an underpaid income bracket not worth the trouble of pursuing. By studying the latest compensation data it becomes clear that this unfounded stereotype is simply not the case for almost anyone earning a paycheck.

The Cato Institute’s, a Washington D.C.-based public policy think tank, recently released best seller It’s Getting Better All The Time reports that the average hourly compensation for a full-time worker is about 20% higher today than it was in the so-called “good old days” of the 1950s. Furthermore, when you take into account the value of fringe benefits to workers, including employer-provided or mandated medical insurance, pensions, increased vacation time and holidays, as well as unemployment insurance, average worker compensation has risen by more than 50% since 1950. Non-cash income has also increased from 5% to 19% of worker compensation between 1950 and 1995.

These numbers apply to virtually every occupation across the board. Teachers, service workers, steel workers, secretaries, and factory workers, to name just a few, all fare substantially better than their counterparts did just a few short decades ago.

But beyond mere economic arguments, with any particular passion or career choice there is no need to get pigeonholed into one specific vocation. For example, regarding the specialty of teaching, there are numerous roles of employment that utilize the skills and talents of standard K-12 teachers that equate to even higher incomes.

The key component here is conducting the necessary research to acquire an understanding of what higher paying employment opportunities exist for those with an educational background or finding another specialty that involves teaching, such as a corporate trainer or the “Executive Learning Director” for a non-profit organization. Thus, those who want to teach and make a Fortune 500 executive salary can find a way to earn a living that fits their lifestyle and still get the fulfillment of doing the work they truly enjoy!

But even more costly than a less desirable paycheck, is letting the potential lack thereof block the pursuit of your passions in the first place. You’ll find best career advice in this story:

Three men were riding on horseback in the Colorado Rockies one moonlit night. As they made their way along the base of the mountain, a voice thundered down from the heavens, commanding them to stop and dismount.

After they immediately followed the instruction, the voice continued, “Go to the riverbed and pick up some pebbles. Put them in your backpacks, but do not look at them until morning.”

Upon completing their strange task, the men began to mount up only to hear the voice again, “This will be both the happiest and saddest day of your lives.” With that final thought engrained clearly into their minds, the men went on their way.

As the dawn of the new day began to brighten the eastern sky, the riders reached into their saddlebags. To their amazement, the pebbles had turned to gold. As they celebrated their new wealth, one of the men stopped and exclaimed, “Wait! Now I know what the voice meant when it said this would be both the happiest and saddest day of our lives. Yes, we have gold, but think how rich we would be had we picked up more pebbles.”

So often people go through life and at some point realize “there could have been more.” Because they failed to take advantage of the opportunities around them, they stripped themselves of unfound treasure.

If you want to find best career advice, here are some questions I would ask my clients: as you pursue your dream job or endeavor to find even more ways to love the job you already have, are you filling your saddlebag with every possibility and every opportunity that comes your way? Or are your unfounded fears of a limited income actually limiting your chances to fulfill your destiny?

Don’t wake up one morning to lament, “This is both the happiest and saddest day of my life.” Instead of pigeonholing your dreams, do whatever it takes to explore the realm of endless opportunities today.