Your worth is not defined by your paycheck! I added the exclamation point because I want to make sure you hear (read) what I’m typing loud and clear.
It’s easy to equate our self-worth to material possessions or monetary value. We live in a society that places the emphasis on what we have, not on what we know. Think about it – we’re constantly Pinning the perfect wedding, sharing recipes on what we wish we were creating (a 5 tier cake with perfect frosting) or eating for dinner (if we had time), and we’re always talking about what we want to buy. In continually wanting more, we strive for more… but this need is not always positive. At times, it pushes us to look for what could be outside the realm of realism; when we should realize what we have is not only enough, but wonderful.
For some, they feel unhappy and unappreciated at their job because the compensation or benefits they are receiving do not match the effort. From there, it sets a series of events into motion that can cause a downward spiral and lead to unfulfillment and continually looking for something different or more. The reality of the situation is, you’re not alone. According to Monster, the number of U.S. workers who are “underemployed” is staggering – close to 22 million who are not putting their education, training, or experience to work. Which means there is a chance you currently fall into this category; underpayment for services is the leader for feeling underemployed. Coincidence? I think not.
Strapped with this information, how do we put our skillset, knowledge, and experience to use? And more importantly, how do we make sure we do not lose sight of the fact that we run the risk of being under paid for what we’re doing – when we know we’re worth more?
Dream Big… But Not Crazy
Wanting more for yourself is a great plan for long term growth, and will help you evolve in your current role, company, and relationships. However, it’s important to make sure you do not have your blinders on when you’re setting the expectations/parameters for said growth. Consider this – you’re currently a Supervisor and your expectation is to move to a District Manager within a year. The extra information I left out was that you’ve only been in your role six months. Realistically, you’ll need ample time to grow in your role. District Manager might be a great long term plan, but you have to make sure you build in realistic time frames, ask for help, and put a plan around it. If you set yourself up for failure before you begin, you will always be disappointed.
Establish Your Own Value
Asking someone else to tell you what you’re worth is the beginning of a slippery slope. I know it seems easy to do when you’re talking about your boss, friend, or loved one, but we get ourselves into trouble when we take the trust off ourselves and give it all to someone else. No one is more important than you, so make sure you determine what you’re worth. The number a company determines when they write you a contract is not your final number – it’s a negotiation for right now. It’s not forever. Know that it is a flexible moment in time that you will fix in the long run if you do not get it correct right now. Learn from it. This is how we become more valuable – education and experience.
Ask Regularly for Feedback
We get better and become more valuable with the more we know – and you will feel that way when you can help more people, including yourself. Ask others what you could have done differently or how you helped them – feedback is a two way street. It is not always negative on what you should have done differently. Far too often we assume feedback is negative. There are moments we can learn what we can do differently to help ourselves which will lead to more positivity and value in the long run.
Pay Attention to Your Evaluations
Many of us think that our annual evaluations at work (if you have the opportunity to participate in them) are something silly that just get filed away and are a formality. Take them seriously (even if your superior does not)! First of all, they help chart your progress through the years, secondly, they tell a story of your growth, and third, it paints the narrative of what you have to do moving forward. If you need to see your value on paper (and you do not want it to be a check or your bank account) your evaluation will show you everything you need. If you’ve taken them seriously, this is a quick and easy way to have charted your progress.
Be Your Own Advocate
No one knows your own value better than you do. Think you deserve more? Ask for it – but do it professionally. Continue to demonstrate your value by being your own advocate. Prove your worth to your company and boss and let them know why you’ve worked to earn what you’re asking for. While we all deserve something, many are hard pressed just to give it to us. Stand up for what you believe it, but come with the professional proof to ask for it correctly and in a justified manner.
Give Yourself the Credit You Deserve
Credit and value are not interchangeable, but they do go hand in hand. Feeling good about what you do will up your value, will help you ask for some of the things you deserve, and increase overall job satisfaction. While it may not increase your paycheck today, in time, you have the opportunity to see the growth because you trust yourself and know that you are valuable.
While value may not be easy to define, numbers on a paycheck and deposits into a banking account cannot tell you what you are worth. True, money can help you buy things that might make you feel better, but they are just things. Long term, your overall satisfaction is linked to your value, so figuring out what makes you happy and how you want to live, falls to you. So pay yourself first, and choose to live your best life.