We set the bar too low. Way too low. “It pays the bills,” we might say. Or, “It’s alright,” we reassure ourselves.
For just a moment, forget that it’s called a “job.” Instead, consider what you actually do. What activities make up your job? Now let’s calculate what these activities are worth to you. Yes, let’s put a price on it. For simplicity, I will break job satisfaction down into three categories.
Three levels of Job SATISFACTION
Work You Would Only Do For Money
This is where most people find themselves, doing work solely because someone pays. If it didn’t pay, they might never touch it with a ten foot pole. But, this can be broken down further. How much do you have to get paid to do your job? I bet there are some jobs you would only do for millions of dollars. Others you would do for thousands. Yet others you would do for little pay, because you find them somewhat enjoyable. Which brings me to what most people consider a dream job.
Work You Would Do For Free
Most of us do a lot for free. We take care of our homes for free. We cook for free. Nobody pays us to look after our own children. And nobody pays us to help out friends and family. But when it comes to our job, we consider ourselves lucky if we work at something we would do for free.
Getting paid for something that we enjoy enough to have done for no pay is exhilarating. It is almost surreal. “I would have done it for free, and someone is paying me for it! Wooohoo!”
But, why stop there?
Work You Would Pay for
What? Work I would pay to do? This doesn’t make any sense. Or, does it?
Ok, let’s think of it as activities. What activities are you willing to pay to do? Most of us have hobbies. And let’s face it, most of them need at least some financial investment on our part. If you play the guitar, you likely had to pay for the instruments and maybe also for lessons. Performers in community theaters usually pay a small administrative fee. Golfing, surfing, ballroom dancing… virtually all hobbies require us to pay a little, and sometimes more. What if someone paid us to do something for which we were willing to pay? Now that’s living the dream!
How much do you love your job?
Figuring out how much you love your job couldn’t be simpler. If someone has to pay you 50K a year to do you job and you wouldn’t do it for less, then give yourself a score of -50K. If you would be willing to do your job for free, your score is 0. If you would be willing to pay 50K to do your job (assuming you could afford to do so), then your score is 50K.
I emphasize that this exercise isn’t about how much you actually get paid. It also has nothing to do with how much money you want to have. I would never ask anyone to actually work for free. The question is, given some free time, would you pay or need to get paid to do what you typically do at work? And what activities are you willing to pay for?
But we need money
We need money. I know. I need it too. I don’t mean to suggest that you should drop everything and use all of your money on activities you are willing to pay for. We can’t live off of joy alone.
I wrote this article because I wanted to share with you the realization that we have set the bar too low. I wrote this piece to remind us that there are activities that we don’t just do for free, but ones for which we are willing to pay. And wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could make a living at something that we enjoy enough to pay for it?
SURPRISING effects of doing what you love
There are wonderful, unexpected advantages to working at a job that you really love – either at a job that you would do for free or one you would pay to do. In a recent article, I discussed how job satisfaction affects our energy level. Now let me connect this with the ideas in this article.
When we work at a job for money alone, doing something we would never do unless someone paid us for it, it tends to rob us of our energy. It makes us tired. It drains us of our life source, and decreases our overall satisfaction with life.
When we work at a job that we would do for free, it neither robs us of energy nor does it give us any. We are happy to do it when we are well rested and feel pretty good.
But the real magic happens when we work at a job for which we were willing to pay. This type of work enriches us with energy. We are able to do it even when we’re tired. It lifts our spirits when we are down. It gives more than it takes.
This gives us a significant advantage when we work at these types of jobs. It often leads to true excellence. As a result, perhaps ironically, working at a job that we were willing to pay for can end up paying more than any other job would.
IF YOU WANT TO MAKE A CHANGE
If you already work at a job for which you are willing to pay, that’s fantastic! But most of us don’t. Changing careers is one of the most challenging events in an adult’s life. But even realizing how much we like our job, and how much we might like a different one, is valuable in and of itself. If you consider how much you would pay for, or how much someone has to pay you, to do various jobs, you may gain a deeper understanding of yourself.
If you want to make a change, it is often easiest to start small. Build in some time to engage in activities that you really enjoy, even if no one is willing to pay you for them, and even if you have to be the one doing the paying. Over time, as you become better at them, this might change.
If you feel ready to make a change, but you are not sure where to start, you may want to look at the guide for reclaiming your life with practical advice on how to affect change when it comes to work, money, and your overall satisfaction with life.
Your personal preferences matter. You matter. It’s your life, and you deserve to live in your way.