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When you’re looking to make a change in your career, you can come across this dilemma – money vs meaning.

What do you do if you’re offered two jobs at the same time, one is paying substantially more but is perhaps doing more of the same and doesn’t really excite you. The other role, paying less, but gives you a feeling of excitement?

Well the answer to this question depends on a couple of things:

  1. I call it a ‘balancing of the scales’ – where are you at in life at the moment? Sometimes we might need to prioritise building up some funds to get ahead, for example, the golden hand cuff years where we have a mortgage, kids at school, and generally some of the heavier expenses in life. Or we may be nearing retirement and looking to build up some wealth to fund the lifestyle we want to have once we step away from the workforce. Ultimately this will make financial security a priority. Which leads into point no 2.
  2. What do you value the most at the moment – if wealth creation or financial security (as in the example above)  is in your top 3 values, then you need to take money into account in making a career decision. However, if wellbeing, growth, serving the community for example, are in your top 3, then you will consider sacrificing the extra pay to live a life that feels more fulfilling to you. So really it all comes down to your values.

I can remember running a workshop and debriefing values with the group. One participant felt hesitant to speak up and admit that their top value was wealth, and thought that made him a bad person. When we debriefed further, he was interested in learning how to invest, understanding share trading and the property market and how to create wealth to set him up for his future and give him wonderful life experiences along the way. When he saw it from that perspective, he not only felt more at peace with his top value, but excited to openly immerse himself further in exploring how to create wealth. He could also see how his career helped fund this passion of his, which elevated the importance of his career and gave him further motivation.

To the other extreme, there are people like myself who will put money to the side to pursue living their values.

This doesn’t mean that choosing meaning over money leads to a life lack. In fact, you have more of a chance of earning more when your career is aligned with your top values! When your career is aligned, as shown in Dr John Demartini’s Values Ladder below (I’ve added in the wellbeing elements based on what I’ve observed coaching people over the past 5 years), you are a better problem solver, more creative thinker, more resilient, happier, have more energy – all of these things impact your ability to perform, which ultimately impacts your value and worth:

Also be aware that when our career is not aligned with our top values, or gets in the way of us living our top values, we fall into the bottom part of the ladder and ultimately end up subconsciously self-sabotaging our performance. The subconscious knows you’re not happy in that role and wants to get you out of there. The way this shows up in your career is that you’ll start to forget things, no matter how hard you try things don’t work out, you’re exhausted and frustrated and your mood changes at work. Ultimately you start to make mistakes and are not performing at your best. Then your self confidence starts to take a dive.

So when it comes time for you to weigh up which role you take, I strongly recommend you start with gaining an understanding of your values, and what gives YOU a sense of meaning.