As college students, we are often reminded of the importance of ‘networking’ and being active on professional platforms like LinkedIn. Expecting this, I made an account on LinkedIn earlier this year, and I filled out every section I could, which happened to be most of them. I also worked on choosing a sleek, but professional profile picture, and most recently, an aesthetically pleasing cover photo, with a good headline and summary to go with the rest of the hard work. Over the span of 6 months, I connected with over 650+ people on LinkedIn and I did this by actively sharing, liking, and sometimes commenting on the posts on my feed. 

One day, while browsing through LinkedIn, I came across a post that made me pause and think about the message the author was conveying. Anyone who’s spent enough time on LinkedIn knows there are many inspirational stories and encouraging posts in the social network, but this one truly made me think about the direction of my life and my career goals. 

The person who shared the post described a short true story that I will be sharing with you today.

The author met a man who had a good job, a happy family, and a healthy life. He had been with his current company for several years, and did not plan on leaving anytime soon. The author of the post reached out to him on behalf of their company with a job offer. After considering his experience and skills, they had offered him better incentives, such as a bigger role in the company, extended vacation days, health insurance, and a hefty salary to go with it. It was the perfect package for someone working their way up the corporate ladder or looking to succeed further in life. Who could refuse?

Turns out, the man could. The company representative was shocked at his refusal, even going as far as to try recruiting him multiple times, each time offering a deal better than the last. Until the representative, who authored the post, asked the man why he refused to take the amazing job if it wasn’t due to loyalty to his current employer or any other reason he’d denied. The man then told the representative something along these lines: “I am at the top of my career. I do not need the change.” So, the rep checked his current status in the company, but the man wasn’t at the top of the ladder. In fact, he wasn’t anywhere near it. Armed with this knowledge, the rep asked the man “Why?” again. This time, they got an explanation: 

Right now, I work around 40 hours a week, and make it home to dinner every night. I haven’t missed a single sports game that my children participated in, nor a single theatre play. I can venture out to new places with my family in the time I have been granted by my company, and enjoy every moment of my life with the people that matter to me the most, the ones I work to provide for. Most importantly, I feel at peace with my current status and taking your job offer means more responsibility and stress, and less time for my family. None of that is worth a higher salary to me, personally. I would be living to work, rather than working to live. To me, I am at the peak of my career.” 

Only you decide when you’ve reached the top. Your ambitions, your goals… they don’t have to involve a Mercedes, a corner-office, and the role of CEO. They can be as simple as a job that gives you mental peace and allows you to focus and spend time on the aspects of life that matter in the end, whether it’s your family or friends or an activity that brings you pure joy. Just incorporating that viewpoint in your life can make you less anxious or stressed about life after college. 

So, network, and make connections. Explore your resources. But while fulfilling these societal expectations, don’t get so overwhelmed that you lose sight of the only things that truly matter in the end: You, and your peace in life. 

P.S: For a great article talking about a similar approach in life, check out this article, “Rethink Your Career Before Failing Up The Corporate Ladder by Joshua Miller, on LinkedIn!