If you’ve ever worked to develop a new product, you’re probably familiar with this concept: Good, Fast, or Cheap. In business, the saying goes that you must pick two of these things. You can have good
and fast, or good and cheap, but not good, fast, and cheap. Picking three would be asking for an impossible, or improbable, proposition.
The same goes for job seeking. On a fairly regular basis, I speak with someone who says, “I want to find a great paying job that I love – in about three weeks.” Wow. Finding the perfect job at the perfect pay in a short timeframe is a dream scenario. Unfortunately, it is very rarely the reality.
When I meet a new client, I often ask, “Is it more important that you find a job you love, or that you find a job quickly?” That helps me to gauge how dire their current work situation is. For example, if their boss is abusive, they may be willing to take anything just to get into a healthier environment. If their current job is good, but they’re looking for better, they may be willing to wait a while for the right thing to come along.
A similar concept applies when it comes to pay versus career fulfillment. This seems to be a controversial issue. Some people say you shouldn’t ever chase after money, you should chase after what you’re passionate about. Others say, you should find your fulfillment in life outside of work hours. That you shouldn’t rely on work to make you happy. And, that if you make enough money, you can pay for the things you like.
You may be surprised to know, I can go either way on this issue. It’s up to you, and how you prioritize money and work fulfillment. In fact, I believe that where you fall on this issue will probably change over the course of your life, if it hasn’t already.
So, when you’re considering this issue, what should you think about? Here are a few things to consider when choosing between more money and more fulfillment.
- How important is money versus work life balance and fulfillment to you? There’s no right answer to this. It’s not about what your parents think, or your friends think. It’s about what you think. Right now. At this point in your life.
- Typically, each job you get bases your new pay on your previous salary. So, a big jump early in your career can mean significant financial gains over time. Most of your salary growth happens in your 20s and early 30s. As much as people advise against chasing money early in your career, there are certainly benefits to starting off with a high salary.
- Do you have a third choice? You may have found one job that’s fulfilling but pays very little. And, another that’s unfulfilling, but pays well. But, have you also searched for other offers that might give a little more pay, but also a better quality of life? Is there a happy medium?
- Does your perfect opportunity even exist where you’re living right now? Are you chasing after something you’ll never find? If your dream job doesn’t exist, are you willing to move?
- When it comes to the idea of ‘working your way up,’ companies rarely give raises that are more than 5% to 10%. A typical raise is more on the order of 2% to 3% per year. Taking a position at an outside company is one of the most effective ways to grow income quickly.
- If your learning at your existing job has slowed, it’s time to find something new. Becoming stagnant is one of the fastest ways to lose value.
- Last, how much personal fulfillment do you want to get from work? If you made 40% more at a job that wasn’t perfect, could you use part of the money to pursue interests outside of work? In your mind, what’s the role of work? How does that compare with your idea of happiness?
When it comes to looking for a new job, one of the most important things you can do is prioritize what’s important to you. Again, it’s not what’s important to your parents, your siblings, your friends, or your neighbors. It’s what’s important to you right now. At this point in your life. And, for your future.
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