Big Money, Big Price?

Sooner or later, many people come to a crossroads in their careers: Stay on a familiar track where you can balance your work and personal life, or take a new position where both your paycheck and your responsibilities will increase. Before you decide to jump ship for the chance to grab the gold, you should ask yourself a few key questions.

Do I Like What I Am Doing?

It can be a real challenge to find a job that you enjoy. If you get up and go to work every day with a smile on your face, then you are one of the lucky ones. If this is the case, then why risk this happiness for the unknown? You may be able to earn more money right where you are by asking for more responsibility. If you see a way that you could make a difference in your own company, ask for the chance to make that difference. Remember the old adage, "Do what you love and the money will follow."

Think for just a moment about what you might be trading if you leave the job you love for the promise of more money faster. One thing you'll be sacrificing is that most precious of all commodities: Time.

What Type of Time Commitment Are You Willing to Give?

There is a new expression that has recently made its way into our business vocabulary: 24/7. All too often, this defines your work schedule for that perfect job. It means you are working or are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Many companies expect this of their employees. In exchange, employees typically receive higher than average compensation. But does 24/7 really work for you?

Deb Brown of Deb Brown Consulting in Dover, Massachusetts, initially thought her new 24/7 arrangement was perfect. Her employer, a large financial services firm, allowed her to work part-time while still earning very competitive wages along with bonuses, shares in the company and profit sharing. As part of the agreement, however, she wore a pager and carried a cell phone. Brown soon realized she was working even when she was supposed to be at home with her family. As she points out, "If you want to have quality family time, you don't get it by being tied to a pager on your days off."

Brown decided that she was no longer willing to give up control of her life in exchange for the almighty dollar. She is now the owner of a successful human resource consulting practice, where she is in control of both her time and her earnings. And like most people who have found this kind of independence, she wouldn't trade her situation for the world. She found a way to jump off the professional treadmill that, these days, controls so many of our lives.

Do I Want to Work to Live or Live to Work?

As people progress in their careers, they often find that they are living to work. Too often, we get on this treadmill early in our careers and can't seem to find our way off. We make purchases that may be out of our budget, so we are then forced to work harder to pay them off. Often, we do not realize that we do have a choice about how hard we need to work.

For example, you can make the decision to buy a home that you can afford now, rather then letting a Realtor convince you that an increase in future earnings will make a more expensive home affordable. If you are constantly working to pay the mortgage, when will you have time to enjoy that nice swimming pool and acre of land?

Where Am I in My Life?

As we go through different stages in our lives, the importance of work changes. When we start out in our careers, we are totally focused on work, particularly on our struggle to climb higher up the corporate ladder. Then, as we marry and have families, we begin to realize that there are other things in life besides getting to the top of the corporate ladder. How does it make you feel when you miss your daughter's ballet recital because you are out of town on business? More importantly, how does that make your daughter feel? All along the way, we struggle to maintain some sort of balance. If your current job allows you to take time off when you need it, think twice before moving on to something else.

You've heard it a million times -- it's impossible to have it all. Something has to give. If you're able to make the big bucks but miss seeing your children grow up, what have you really gained?

Can You Buy Back the Time You've Lost?

Eventually, you realize that the only thing you are not able to buy is time. Once that is gone, all the money in the world won't bring it back to you. So when you're asking yourself the question, "Is it time to make a move?" ask yourself what the real cost is. Only then can you decide.

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