Last updated in November 2020
Salary vs job satisfaction, which is more important? Many people find themselves in soulless but well-paid jobs yearning for fulfilment. Equally as many people work in low-paid jobs they love, regretting their choice.
It is difficult to choose a job without actually having spent a few years working in it. Thus, it is understandable that people regret or start questioning their choice. Those just starting their career may wonder what to focus on, salary or job satisfaction.
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Salary vs job satisfaction: Which should you focus on?
The benefits of a high salary
Earning a good salary has many advantages. Obviously, you have more money and can afford more, better holidays, a bigger house, and a fancy car. Or you can save more money and retire early, perhaps after only five to ten years of work.
Even if you do not like your job, you would only have to do it for a short period of time before you can retire and spend the rest of your life on passion projects or travelling.
There are also less obvious benefits. Not having to worry about money, for example. Just knowing that you have the money to pay your bills for a year, even if you do not work, is a huge reassurance. Similarly, should you or a family member fall ill, you can afford better care.
Even if you are made redundant, high-paying jobs often have better redundancy packages. Plus, it will likely be easier for you to find a new job than if you had worked a low-paid job.
The disadvantages of high-paying jobs
Well-paid jobs are often associated with working long hours, having a lot of responsibility, and stress. Plus, most well-paid jobs are office based, so you find yourself sitting in front of the computer for most of your days.
There are people that enjoy these kinds of jobs and there is nothing wrong with that. But if you do not, having to spend countless hours doing something you hate can be psychologically damaging. Consequences can be depression, burn-out syndrome, and death in extreme cases.
The benefits of having a job you love
Having a job that you are truly passionate about means you never work a day in your life. Anyone knows which jobs are high paying but finding a job you love is much more difficult. If you are lucky enough to have found such a job, the mental benefits are great.
You will lead a happier, more fulfilled life, doing your hobby every day. This has benefits beyond the job, leading to a more positive outlook in life, better relationships, and even better health.
The disadvantages of having a job you love
Working a job that is not well paid means retiring early will be much harder (though not impossible). What is more important is that the struggle to make ends meet can outweigh the psychological benefits of having a job you love.
People also often cite a lack of career progression as a disadvantage to their passion job. Reaching your limit can be very frustrating, especially when you know that you can do more. Even if you are an expert in your field, you may never get a say in your company.
Which is more important salary vs job satisfaction?
Ultimately, the choice depends on you. Every job will have pros and cons and no job is perfect. Even if you switch careers, you may end up liking your new job even less even though it is more fulfiling/pays more.
The saying “the grass is greener where you water it” applies to the choice of salary vs job satisfaction. Making the best of the situation and compensating for the shortcomings of your job will always lead to the best outcome.
Making the best of your situation
When you are in a well-paid but soul-crushing job
If you are in a highly paid job that you hate, you can still attempt to improve your situation. You may be able to speak with your manager or colleagues to improve the aspects of your job you particularly hate.
You can also spend your free time on things you are truly passionate about to make up for your dissatisfaction at work. However, the best solution for you may be early retirement. Fortunately, when you earn a good salary, this is relatively easy to reach.
If you start to maximise your savings and cut your expenses, you may only have to for as little as five more years. Having early retirement in front of your eyes may massively improve your mental health even if you hate your job.
When you are in a happy but low-paid job
If you love your job but do not make much money, the solution may be simpler than you think. There are a couple of ordinary ways to increase your salary such as negotiating with your manager or switching companies.
However, this may not make much of a difference for you or not work at all. In this case, you can set up side hustles in your spare time to make up for the shortfall in income. You may want to consider matched betting, blogging, or something else that you are good in.
Salary vs job satisfaction: Which should you focus on? summary
There is no absolute answer to what is more important when comparing salary vs job satisfaction. Which one you choose depends ultimately on yourself and your goals in life.
Whether you end up with a well-paid job you hate or a job you love that does not pay very well, there are always ways to improve your situation. The important point is to stop complaining, learn to appreciate the good sides of your job and compensate for the downsides.
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