This is part two in a two part series exploring the true value of yourself. You will learn how to measure the true nature of your 40-hour work week salary and then find out just how much you're actually worth.
In the previous post, you discovered the hidden costs of your current job. You assessed work related costs like the amount of gas you use during your commute, future maintenance costs on your vehicle due to the extra miles driven, unnecessary restaurant spending you would forgo if you worked from home, taxes, etc.
In that example, you discovered you were earning over 40% less than what your salary says on paper.
With this newfound knowledge, I hope you experienced a little bit of anger and frustration. There's nothing quite like having something you believe to be true come crashing down around you exposing the reality that was hiding from you.
Sometimes you can actually go into a state of denial. You don't want to believe you could have possibly been ignorant to something for so long. You might say “everyone bears these costs, so it all balances itself out.”
But, I want you to take ownership in the fact this doesn’t have to be your reality.
As technological innovation makes the future of the working world wildly unpredictable, I’m of the opinion that independently contracted work is going to start taking up large portions of the job market.
Some folks throw the term “gig economy” around when talking about this subject, but I feel like that language diminishes the services being provided.
Designing a company website that doubles said company’s client base is a little more than a “gig.” Turning around and training everyday people to better their health through physical fitness and healthier eating habits is a little more than a “gig.”
The days of working for a single employer for 40+ years is slowly dying out. With that has come a growing confidence in workers to be their own bosses and dabble in a variety of work that stretches well beyond the narrow scope of their college degree or previous work experience.
I’d say I’m a pretty good example of this reality. And, although I've made some great strides in becoming fully independent, I'm still working my way to get there.
To do this, I've found immense power in doing the very task you're going to learn about in this article: discovering the monetary value of time.
You deserve to feel valued every single day
Whether you still see yourself working for an employer or you want to take on the working world with the title “self-employed,” there’s one thing you should be confident in—you feel valued for what you bring to the table.
Not “kind of” valued.
Not “your boss/client is having a good day and feels like throwing compliments around for once” value.
You should feel truly valued every single day because your unique skill-set and perspective is seen as irreplaceable.
Feeling energized yet?
Be honest with me here. If you’re not feeling motivated to discover your self-worth, then the rest of what you read in this post will have little to no impact on your future.
What’s the point in reading something if you don’t gain anything from the information?
Here, let me try this one more time.
If you spend your entire life feeling underpaid, disrespected, and uninspired, you will have nothing left but memories of regret. This is not what you deserve, so let’s make sure that never becomes your story.
What's your fulfillment gap?
I can’t emphasize enough how big of a difference there is between the value you’ve unconsciously assigned yourself (often dramatically too low) and the value you will consciously determine today.
And, rather than me trying to convince you, I’m going to have you convince yourself.
If you haven’t already, go back to the first post in this series and take time to calculate the true value of the work you are currently paid to perform. You’ll want this in hourly terms. Or, check out steps one and two in the little graphic below.
Keep this number handy, but set it to the side for the time being.
The first question I have for you steps out of the box of “work” and enters the realm of “pleasure.” When you hang out with friends at the bar, go catch a movie or baseball game, or take a joyride to nowhere, how much would I have to pay you (per hour) to sit at home and stare blankly at the wall?
I know this seems like a comical question, but I want you to think really hard about your answer.
So, what’s it going to be? $10? $100? $468?
The number you just picked, without any equations or number crunching is the ultimate value of your time. Unless you can think of something more useless than staring at a wall doing nothing, this is your baseline.
Now subtract the hourly rate of your current job from the hourly rate you just assigned yourself to stare at the wall all day. This number is what I like to call your “fulfillment gap.”
The activities you involve yourself in at work are likely contributing very little to fill this gap. So, what can you do about it?
How can you close your fulfillment gap?
First, let’s talk about happiness. Happiness goes pretty hand-in-hand with feeling fulfilled in life. The happier you are on a day to day basis, the more value you are gaining from the time you spend doing various tasks.
For instance, I left my corporate job to work in the nonprofit sector. At the time of my decision, I was one to two months away from a promotion and seven months away from my first round of receiving profit share, which was likely to be around 15% of my salary.
With all of that in mind, I compared the overall salary of my current job with the salary I negotiated for this new job and saw I would be taking around a 28% pay cut.
What nut job would take that big of a hit to his bank account?
Well, let this nut job explain, because I did.
First and foremost, I was pretty miserable at the current job. In terms of financial incentives, work hours, and a pretty neutral (leaning positive) feeling towards the office culture, I had no complaints. The big problem was the work itself.
I had spent the greater part of the last four years doing work that had a direct impact on the community I lived in. Whether it was in my college town or across the Atlantic Ocean, I could see and feel the benefits of my work.
When I started this new chapter in my life called “holy cow, I have a salary?”, I wasn’t mindful of how much I valued my happiness and, more importantly, where I would or would not find it.
Suffice it to say, working in a corporate office crunching numbers all day trying to figure out whether John Doe needs to have his insurance rates raised or lowered wasn’t quite where my happiness was living.
Now, this new job opportunity was going to flip the script (almost) entirely. I was going to have far less financial incentives, far longer work hours plus travel, but, in all likelihood, a great office culture. The real kicker though?
I was going to be a writer. And, I was going to be writing for a national movement I whole-heartedly believed in. That 28% gap shrunk up so quickly, I hardly remember it ever existing.
There’s amazing clarity when you can look at a salary gap like that and feel completely comfortable taking it on.
So, with that long winded story, what happiness do you find in your current work that helps close your fulfillment gap? Or, maybe the question is, what misery do you find in your current work that actually widens that gap further?
Assign a number to it!
Take your time to really think things through, but write a number down that you can stick with throughout this discussion.
Remember all the positives I had at my corporate job, but how the work itself trumped everything? A simple pros and cons list might have overstated the positives. But, when I assign a “per hour” dollar amount to each item, one con can outweigh 100 pros.
Another visually appealing way to do this is writing (or typing) the words out using different sizes. If a pro is super important to you, write it super large. If a con isn’t all that bad, write it teeny tiny.
In the end, it’s up to you and your heart to determine what’s important to you and only you.
Let's talk about the grey areas
So, you now have an intimate understanding of what is filling up your cup and what is causing it to crumble into a million pieces. Your fulfillment gap might be so incredibly large that it’s putting you in an uncomfortable state of confusion.
Take a deep breath and find comfort in the fact you know the unnecessary sacrifices you’ve been making all these years. Now you can focus on opportunities that will begin closing your fulfillment gap because you understand the value of time.
You can go about each day asking yourself, will that increase or decrease my gap? What if sometimes your answer to the same question is yes and other times it’s no?
This brings in what’s called Opportunistic Addition, which I learned from James Clear.
“Opportunistic Addition refers to choices that would decrease the value of your time if you spent all of your time on them, but increase the value of your time if you do them at opportunistic moments.
“For example, if you work late, does the hour between 9PM and 10PM lead to positive outcomes on average? Or does that hour include more mistakes than accomplishments? Does that hour include more procrastination than productivity? If it's a net negative hour on average, then you should stop working. Working hard on a project is good until the next hour of work burns you out more than it produces something valuable.”
So, remember, when you feel like there are times you can say yes and no to the same question, find out when each answer is most appropriate.
You deserve a reward!
Wow, you just put in a lot of hard work and I want to congratulate you for your efforts.
As a reward, I want to offer you a free download of this step by step procedure, so you can always have it with you. There will be multiple times throughout your life where you’ll want to reassess your fulfillment gap and one day be able to say your gap is no longer there!
I know I haven’t captured everything on this abstract topic and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. How do you determine the value of your time? What tricks could you share with the community?