I read this article yesterday in the Deseret News by Tim Clark, a leadership consultant and columnist. He interviewed more than 1,000 employees at varying levels in all sorts of organizations and asked them “what matters most at work.”
The results were surprisingly consistent, he says. Ninety percent of the time the top two answers were the same:
2) Personal contribution.
More than money, titles, travel, or other perks or experiences, these two answers rose to the top as “what matters most.” So why is it sometimes so hard to believe that these things are really what matters most? I look around my own office and wonder if relationships and my personal contributions are really as valuable to me as the paycheck I bring home. After all, money has a way of making itself seem pretty important. And I think I figured out why.
No, it’s not because I have three kids and one on the way (surprise!), although that’s definitely part of it. It turns out that according to a recent study by some smart people at the University of New Jersey, money actually can affect happiness up to a certain point. In a survey of (again) 1,000 Americans, researchers found that money equals satisfaction, but only to an extent. From the article:
“More money does not necessarily buy more happiness, but less money is associated with emotional pain,” they wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Perhaps $75,000 is a threshold beyond which further increases in income no longer improve individuals’ ability to do what matters most to their emotional well-being, such as spending time with people they like, avoiding pain and disease, and enjoying leisure.”
So $75,000 is the magic threshold where the amount of money you make can no longer really buy happiness, or said another way, where money can no longer ease the burdens that get in the way of well-being. Until you hit $75K, money can seem important because you need it to pay your bills and feed your family (I can’t serve my colleagues on a dinner platter or feed my family a leadership curriculum, though that creates an interesting image in my mind). But anything above the $75K mark really isn’t necessary to do what you need to do to be happy. At that point, well-being can be completely satisfied from a different place. At that point, it’s up to you.
In the meantime, whether you make that much or not, I have found from personal experience that living according to certain principles, many of which are presented in this blog, can help you manage the “burdens” that can get in the way of happiness, leading to well-being. And, of course, the sooner you find what you love to do and start doing it the happier you will be (and, I believe the money will come because you are doing what you love).
In the end, I think the question we should ask is this: how can I build my work around 1) relationships and 2) personal contribution to kill two birds with one stone — building relationship and sharing personal contributions WHILE traveling, making money, and racking up titles? Why not have it both ways — make great money while serving others and contributing your strengths? Maybe that’s the goal…
Hi! I'm Dustin.
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