It’s Not About the Money

A hazy picture with grey water and grey rocks

I saw this stream of consciousness that says, in part:

“We like to kid ourselves that a grey, listless life of mediocrity is fine and dandy, so long as we’re being paid well enough.”

That statement stuck with me so much that I actually had a dream about it. In the dream, I could picture men and women in their business attire, going to and from work. But there was a haze over the image that muted the colors. Everything seemed smudged, dirty. And the expressions on the individuals’ drawn faces were pained, as if they wanted to see something more, but it was impossible to do so.

And yet, this dream (or perhaps it was a nightmare?) is more of a reality than we would like to imagine.

For folks who are working in survival jobs, this may seem laughable. “Pay me enough,” you think, “and I could do anything for eight hours. The other 16 are mine.”

But consider this for a minute — of the 16 hours that you are not working, roughly eight of them are spent sleeping. So of your waking time, half is spent at work and half is yours to do with as you please.

“Plus I have weekends!” you remind me.


Say your commute is 20 minutes one-way. That’s 40 minutes total.

Breakfast and dinner probably take at least one and a half hours combined for meal prep and consumption (more if you have kids).

Exercise averages about 30-45 minutes a day.

Showering and changing is another 20-30 minutes, if you are efficient about it.

Plus then you have all the other periodic tasks that need to be done — laundry, mowing the yard, small household repairs, grocery shopping, taking children to their activities, cleaning the floors, dusting, loading and unloading the dishwasher, paying bills, taking out the trash, replacing light bulbs and batteries, going in for oil changes and other preventive car maintenance, and so on. (Not to mention the time on the computer, which is a daily activity for most people.)

Right off the top, you have 3-3.5 hours of your “free time” accounted for with daily activities. Add in there the incidental activities listed, and you may be left with precious little time to claim as your own. Suddenly, spending eight hours in a job that eats at you doesn’t seem like such a great deal, no matter how much you are paid.

So if you are at a crossroads in your career — you don’t know if you should leave your job to pursue opportunities elsewhere, you have two offers of employment to weigh, your current company came back to you with a counteroffer — don’t let money be your top consideration. Certainly, you deserve to be fairly compensated for the value you bring to a company, but there are many other factors that come into play with this kind of decision.

Make sure you don’t let the dollar signs blind you from making smart choices.

Image courtesy of flikr

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