At past jobs, I’ve consistently put intrinsic rewards above extrinsic rewards. I loved learning, working on meaningful projects, and becoming friends with my coworkers. I needed to believe in what I was doing and enjoyed being in the company of people I cared about and respected. What this also meant was that I consistently took lower paying jobs than what my skill level offered.
This is not to say that I have been doing what I loved this entire time. I took jobs that I could find some intrinsic value in, but it wasn’t exactly what I loved. I have been financially independent since I was 17 and needed work that paid me enough to cover ALL my living expenses, bills, college tuitions, and those awful used cars I kept having to buy new transmissions for. I was responsible for myself and didn’t have a back-up plan when things didn’t go right.
My situation now is quite different. I am debt-free (yep, I paid off that $55K I owed for graduate school) and enjoy the luxury of having enough financial security that I can take a little time to decide what I want to do next. Does that mean that I should go and “do what I love?” I’m not so sure about that. After reading an enlightening book called Do What You Love And Other Lies about Success and Happiness by Miya Tokumitsu, I’m not convinced that I want to continue putting time in any job that doesn’t compensate me well for the work I do. Click here for her interview if you want to get a better idea of what the book is about. I no longer dream about having a career, or working long hours on some exciting project that is intellectually or creatively challenging. All of that sounds too exhausting! To help me clarify my direction, I took a second look at my priorities.
A year ago, I prioritized things that I valued most in my life and I think it’s still the same today:
- Intimate relationships (my significant other and pets)
- Family *I’m sure at a future date I’ll explain to you why they are at the bottom of the list.
I’ve changed a whole lot over the years. Ten years ago, work and learning would have been on top, with everything else falling to the wayside. Fifteen years ago, I prioritized my intimate relationships and finances.
For work-specific values, I’ve definitely made some changes:
Easy and low stress
Time and energy available to spend with my significant other and pets, work on my garden, and exercise
It feels a little disappointing that I put “good pay” and removed “creative” from my lists, but hey, how am I going to get myself out of this rut I don’t don’t change anything?