How You Think About Your Salary Can Hold You Back From What You Really Want

After college, you finally get to run your own life.

(It’s pretty freaking awesome until you realize you’re paying for everything.)

You get to choose where you work and live, who you hang out with and what you do with your free time. And if you live in a big city, your options are endless.

But here’s the problem with endless options: analysis paralysis.

Analysis paralysis happens when you go over every option thoroughly with the intention of making the absolute best decision. Even though you feel like you’re being smart by weighing each decision, if that process takes a long time, then you’re just stalling.

I’ve had analysis paralysis with big life decisions, but it happens to me a lot in diners.

Every time I go to a diner, I end up ordering a grilled cheese sandwich… even when diner menus come with enough items to last months without repeating an order.

And this is why analysis paralysis causes us to make decisions we’re not usually thrilled with.

Having analysis paralysis usually results in choosing the path of least resistance.

Ordering a grilled cheese is easier than trying something else and potentially hating it.

Obviously, at a diner who gives a shit?

The problem is we take the path of least resistance with our careers too. And that, my friends, is what leads to unhappiness at work and feeling stuck in life.

If you’re feeling stuck in your career right now, this post is for you.

I want to help you shift your perspective just a little bit so you can start seeing your current job situation (and life situation) differently.

I’m not saying that you won’t be happy unless you quit your job tomorrow (because that would be dumb, unless you’ve already planned it).

And I’m not talking about learning how to love a job you dislike either.

It’s about how to get more comfortable with change.

Having a great salary at a job you dislike comes with a price.

Over drinks last weekend, my friend told me she’s happy with her salary, but bored to death at work. She expressed the desire to make a change.

We talked until the real reasons she feels she can’t switch jobs came up.

Here’s what it came down to: fear of the unknown and having too many options.

The unknown in this situation is not being sure she can get the same salary or higher in a different job and industry.

And having too many options just comes from having many interests and aspirations.

I didn’t get to ask her this question, but if we had the conversation I would ask her, “how do you know for sure that you couldn’t secure a good salary?”

Be honest. If you feel like you’ll NEVER find a job that pays as well, have you done your homework?

When I say homework, I mean salary research:

  1. Literally a Google search, or using a tool like Comparably to do some salary math
  2. Reaching out to talk to someone who does what you want to do

*Tip: Here’s how to gauge someone’s salary without them actually asking them how much they make. When it comes up, ask something like this: “I’ve always been interested in doing that type of work, but I have no clue what the average salary is. Would you say it’s between $65,000 and $75,000?” Then they can say just say “yes” or “no” and that’s it! 

You can (and should) be doing your research all the time. It expands your awareness of opportunity — even when you’re not job hunting.

Most of the time, we don’t even know what all of the options are.

Something that college fails its graduates on (at least, in my experience) is awareness and knowledge of all the opportunities out there, including how to create opportunities for yourself.

I didn’t even know a career as a copywriter existed in college — and I had a creative writing minor. Kind of screwed up, right?

When I quit my job in entertainment, I was shocked to find that I knew very little about the job market! But I shouldn’t have been surprised. Up until that point, I only ever cared about entertainment jobs.

You want to know how I got my job at Elite Daily?

I searched for jobs in “media” on LinkedIn… and then only applied to positions that let me submit my LinkedIn profile with one click. Elite Daily was one of them. I didn’t even send a cover letter or an email to a recruiter. I was LAZY. I got lucky that the recruiter thought my LinkedIn page was good enough to schedule a phone call.

But that’s a perfect example of taking the path of least resistance.

At the time, it would have been more difficult to pick a new path and pursue it. So instead, I searched broadly and kept myself open to new opportunities. I pretty much left it up to chance.

It made sense then because I knew my next move wouldn’t be my last.

If you feel stuck right now and want to leave your job, take the pressure off yourself. Your next move probably won’t be your last. Trust that no matter where you end up, you’ll land on both feet. 

The only way to figure out what you want to do and what makes you happy is to try different stuff.

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On a roll today guys 😇 #sorrynotsorry #eeeeeats

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Or, you can settle for “fine,” which is a choice you get to make as an adult.

(Maybe I should apply this mindset to my next diner experience…)

It’s okay to admit you want a change. No one is going to give you a gold star for dragging yourself to a job you hate every day.

I was talking to another friend recently who has a job that people envy.

Whenever she tells people where she works, they look at her in awe sand go, “how did you get that?”

Ironically, my friend hates it there.

She doesn’t openly tell many people this of course, but she justifies keeping a job she hates because of the pay. Even though she has an idea of what type of work she really wants to do, she’s terrified of taking a pay cut.

Hearing that makes me want to both shake some sense into her AND give her a hug at the same time.

Having that type of scarcity mentality is limiting. Instead, try to adopt an abundance mentality.

A scarcity mentality = worrying about how over-saturated is the job market is with job seekers and not getting a job with a good enough salary.

An abundance mentality = knowing there are so many jobs out there and no limit to how much money you can make.

Hypothetical situation: you can land any job you want with a salary that’s $10,000 more than your current salary next month.

What type of job would you get?

Here are the facts:

  • When job hunting, you don’t have to take the first offer you get
  • You have the opportunity to package and position your experience as something highly valuable (which it is) and make even more money
  • You can negotiate your salary. No one ever loses a job opportunity for negotiating their salary before accepting an offer

Here’s something for you to think about: If you believe that money and experience are stopping you from going after what you really want, is possible that those two ideas are just a result of your perspective?

There’s so much fear involved with managing our own time, money and careers. No one really talks about it because we all cloak the fear of making the wrong choices with excuses:

“I don’t like what I’m doing, but I don’t even know what I want to do next, so I’m not going to bother looking.”

“I don’t know if it’s a good time to make a switch, maybe next year.”

“I don’t really like my job, but it pays well.”

“I don’t want to have to change my easy commute.”

“I don’t know how to ask for a raise, so I’m just going to wait until I’m promoted.”

“I don’t like where I live, but I don’t have enough money to move.”

I haven’t been out of college long, but I’ve already learned the hard way that if you don’t like your job, being in it longer doesn’t make you like it more.

A nice raise or bonus doesn’t make you like your job more either.

Money is awesome! But the worst feeling in the world is dragging yourself to a place five days a week that you don’t like.

Like relationships, you’re not going to be totally in love with your job every day. But if you hate it four out of five days a week, something should probably change — soon.

I want to help you shift your perspective. If you’re thinking about making a change, start small. Start by doing research. Learn more about what’s out there.

Even though I don’t know you personally, I know for a fact you don’t know every possibility that’s out there for you right now. You have barely scratched the surface.

Feel free to reach out to me at taliasarakoren[at]gmail[dot] com to tell me what changes you’ve been considering in your career lately… even if it’s the first time you’re really telling someone “out loud.” I read and respond to every email.



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