Control Your Career: Make sure you work for you

We Work For Money

Every employment choice you make from your first job through retirement effects your career. Let’s be real: you work for money. When you have money, you work for causes. People who work in lower paying jobs that have more intrinsic value to them make enough money to sustain themselves doing what they want to do. That’s perfectly acceptable–enough money is there to work for that cause.
One of the few site gurus I’ve seen that has something fairly good to say is Susan Heathfield from Here’s an excerpt from one of her pieces on the subject:

“If you value helping people in need, you can anticipate a particular salary over the course of your career. As long as your values are more important than what you are paid, your choice is fine. But, you cannot set a goal of making a million dollars a year, make a career choice that pays $40,000 per year, and expect to be happy with your career decisions and the money you make over time.”

Now that makes sense, doesn’t it? Most people, however, don’t manage or even start their careers with that concept in mind. We all believe we should be paid enough to become millionaires no matter what we do. Life doesn’t work that way, so career planning is needed.

Take The Time To Plan

Unfortunately, we typically try to maximize value (either compensation or intrinsic) per job change, rather than maximize long term potential. Why? Because career planning takes time we don’t have–or don’t give ourselves. We don’t have time to look at our careers because most of us are working for someone else. Once we realize we need a job change, we try to get as much as we can for something we’re qualified to do because we have to feed the kids or pay the bills. The larger career goal (if there is one) is oftentimes lost in the necessity of making ends meet.

The best career management advisers coach us to have a long term view of our careers, to know where we’re going and how each step helps us get there. If we know the goal, we can always find a step that keeps us on course. If we know we want to work in a field that tends not to compensate well, we may decide to work for a finite period of time in a field that does until we’re ready to jump. Then, it doesn’t matter who we’re working for at any particular time if we pursue a change. We would know our path and know how to achieve our goals.

When you plan your career, no matter what responsibilities you have, you’re always working for yourself.