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Major Bucks vs. Major Job Satisfaction

Job Satisfaction is Everything – Until it Isn’t

Here’s a scenario – you’re in a job that offers you maximum job satisfaction. The commute is short, the work you do makes a positive difference, and you’re very good at what you do. Your colleagues are great. The salary could be better, but you love what you do.

Suddenly a job offer comes up. It’s across town, the responsibilities of the job are enormous, and the position will be highly pressurised. But the money is astronomical. Do you take it?

Although not all circumstances are as cut and dried as that, many of us are put in situations where we need to question what it is that drives us. What really motivates us to get up every morning for a significant portion of our lives?

job satisfaction

Can’t You Have Both?

It’s not unreasonable to conceive that you can be both well financially rewarded and have a position that offers complete satisfaction. Also, for some, a fantastic salary is job satisfaction. But for many, there comes a time when we have to choose – take the road that leads to more money, or continue down the path to happiness; even if it means you struggle a bit financially along the way.

The truth is, many of inextricably tie job satisfaction and money together. But that is only partially true. Research collected by the National Academy of Sciences in the US was able to break down where the connection ended between income and overall life satisfaction. They concluded: “Emotional well-being also rises with log income, but there is no further progress beyond an annual income of $75,000 (approx AU$105,000).” So, roughly what we would consider an average ‘middle-class’ income.

However, the research goes on to say that “Low income exacerbates the emotional pain associated with such misfortunes as divorce, ill health, and being alone. We conclude that high income buys life satisfaction but not happiness and that low income is associated both with low life evaluation and low emotional well-being.” Thus, high income might not bring on eternal happiness; it can buy a certain threshold of happiness. However, this information is only a part of the decision process. There are other factors to consider before you can choose.

job satisfaction

It’s Not All About You

The whole process of deciding whether job happiness or financial security is more important is dependent on your circumstances. Are you single with no dependents? Married with children? Just starting out? Mid-career? Approaching retirement? All these factors have a bearing on the drivers that motivate you. For example, you may put more value on increase family time over a handsome salary. Or, the salary that enables you to get that first rung on the property ladder may be your particular definition of job satisfaction.

Essentially, it’s the life you have chosen which will drive your decision-making process. The money can important, but chasing it for its own sake could be a recipe for disaster. Doing what you love – and being very good at it – will by virtue of its own merit, bring financial reward. But that is almost incidental to being in a job that enriches you as a person. From there the family time you have will be more meaningful, your house will be a home rather than a status symbol, and your commute will be a time to reflect, and so on.

job satisfaction

Step Back and Think

To sum up, the question of big bucks versus major job satisfaction is complicated but easy to answer once you have all your cards laid out on the table. Happiness as a concept is highly subjective, but facts do show that a sky-high salary is no guarantee to happiness – quite the contrary in fact as the pressure and responsibility that can come with it can make you quite miserable. Choosing the more satisfying job could, in the long run, be the most beneficial choice in life if you’re willing to put in the time.

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