I talked with a friend recently about his high-paying job. He said he is getting paid really well so that they can drain his soul, which reminded me of something I may have written about before but is worth revisiting.
When you make a high salary, especially straight out of college, it is likely for one of three reasons:
I’m not sure which applies to you, but more often than not it’s not number 1, at least for the people I serve in career coaching. The problem is, companies dress up these jobs by throwing benefits at you: stock options, free lunches, and a swag bag with branded polos, pens, and a neat little security card belt-thingy that automatically retracts.
Don’t get sucked in by the smoke and mirrors.
Before you take a job, compare it against what you know about yourself, because at the end of the day, no perk on planet earth will make up for a soul-sucking 8 to 5.
The quality of the work and the opportunities to engage your talents every day should be priority number 1. As you analyze the job, set all of the peripheral factors aside, including salary, and ask yourself:
Why put what you know about yourself first? Because money follows talent, not the other way around. Do what you love and the money will follow.
I’ll tell you what has never happened before: No career coaching client I have coached has ever figured out their career sitting in their room thinking about it.
It’s never happened.
The only way to figure out career is to act. To do something. To begin to move.
Don’t get me wrong. There is a role for thinking and reflecting and analyzing. Hence, my book RESET.
Reflection is the oft-neglected and totally necessary step of figuring out a career path.
But part two is equally — if not more — important.
Take action! Talk to somebody, start something, shadow someone, apply for something, get more education, begin blogging…do something different.
It’s in the process of doing something that the path becomes clear.
For me, it seems like the more bold the step I take the more clear the path becomes. Whether it’s leaving my job in public relations to move across the nation or leaving my job three weeks ago to start my own company, courageous action leads to clarity and results.
Trying to figure out your next step? Don’t forget that it’s a two-part process: reflect + act = clarity.
I was talking with a friend awhile back who is considering a RESET. He said the toughest part is that he feels like he is having to take a step backward in his career money-wise and responsibility-wise, but that his father gave him some powerful advice that rang true to me as well:
Sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward.
Isn’t that what a RESET is all about? I sacrifice short-term “success” as measured by the world and everyone else around me in order to launch into something else, but because I’m more passionate and now living within my strength I’ve got my foot on the accelerator and advance further, faster. At least this is how it worked for me.
I’ve drawn this fancy little graph on more than a few napkins and post-it notes in my career coaching of others. This is my personal financial earnings trajectory since 2004:
The salary numbers are less important than the trajectory. I graduated into an average entry-level salary in 2004 but didn’t enjoy the work. So I quit to pursue passion, hence the two-year dip that landed me in graduate school in 2006 where I made almost nothing. I graduated in 2008 into a job I loved making only slightly more than I had been making four years earlier. The thing is, I loved it, so it didn’t matter. Because I loved it, I advanced into a better job two years later making more, and then in 2013 I took a bigger leap as I became even more specialized and, thus, more valuable in the marketplace. In 2014, my earnings were almost four times what I started at out of college AND I was doing something I loved everyday. So I must be a millionaire right? Ha, not quite. Turns out that raising four kids devours disposable income. But that’s not the point.
Stepping back to step forward is a tough thing to do. There were many moments — especially in 2008 when I was making only slightly more than four years earlier — when I could have said, “This isn’t worth it.”
But I was in it for the long-game.
Short-term sacrifice, long-term gain.
One step backward, the rest of your career forward.
Hi! I'm Dustin.
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