I was seated at a dinner with a group of people who were, for all intents and purposes, highly successful.
One woman who worked as an ophthalmologist was explaining the ins and outs of her career — including the daily stresses that come along with being a healthcare provider.
Me, being as interested in people’s career paths and choices as I am, asked her this one question: What do you like most about your job?
“The money,” she replied, with a smirk on her face.
Everyone at the table immediately chuckled, because of course she was kidding — at least that’s what they all assumed.
But, take a minute to think about this: What if she wasn’t? Do you suddenly think less of her and her passion for her chosen occupation? Does that feel like a dirty admission on her part?
I can’t blame you if you’re nodding. There’s this pervasive thought that your career needs to provide for you in ways that extend well beyond money. And, to be clear, I do believe that’s true (in fact, I wrote about what else you deserve from your job right here).
However, that also means that somewhere along the line, pointing to your salary as a core perk of your hard work became taboo. People who get a sense of fulfillment or meaning from the digits on their paycheck suddenly feel guilt, shame, or even completely off base. If that’s what keeps propelling them forward, then surely they’re in the wrong line of work.
I’m here to tell you something important: There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s OK if you like your job because it compensates you well.
Think about it. Money is quite literally the one concrete thing that separates our work from our leisure time. So, feeling gratified by that number increasing in your bank account as a result of your hard work isn’t shameful — it’s human nature.
Even further, think about all of the important considerations that earn a spot on your list when you’re searching for a job or choosing a career path. Real-life concerns — like location, schedule, benefits, and yes, compensation— all make up some very large pieces of that puzzle. Why, then, are they no longer allowed to carry any importance when we finally sign an offer letter?
Money is a reality, and you shouldn’t have to pretend that it’s completely insignificant to you in order to seem adequately invested in your profession. You’d be hard-pressed to find any of us who would do our jobs for no pay.
Let me be clear: I never want the amount of your paycheck to be the only thing you love about your career. Life’s way too short to put up with misery for the sake of piles of cash.
But, if the fact that your job offers you a good living is one of the things that you find particularly rewarding, please don’t feel like that’s an embarrassing confession that should inspire doubt and dishonor.
Money talks — even if we don’t want to talk about it.