Parent: “I wish I could help pay my son’s college tuition, but I just can’t afford it.” Co-worker: “You’ve worked here for a long time. Have you tested the job market for a position that pays more?” Parent: “What? Well…actually…no.” Learn more about making better career decisions to earn the money you are worth.
I’m going to make a potentially uncomfortable statement for many readers. A lot of people force their families to make sacrifices…not because of a bad career decision…but because of their career INDECISION. Not actively managing your career costs money! Of course, you’re not actually writing a check to your employer, but you might as well be with your “opportunity costs.”
Making Better Career Decisions by Staying In Your Power
If you’re not making career decisions, then your employer will make them for you. And, it’s likely to be paying you less than market value for your qualifications!
Here’s The Irony.
Usually, it’s people who land great jobs that ultimately forget to manage their careers. If you’re in a horrible job, trust me, there’s not a day that goes by that you’re not considering a better job!
However, if you’re in a great job, then it becomes easy to forget to reassess your career options. Years pleasantly go by until an uncomfortable conversation, like the one above, “shocks” you into evaluating your flat career trajectory.
Falling Into the Trap of “Quality of Life”
I know a lot of people who fall into this trap. In fact, I was almost one of them. Shortly after my “transition” to the civilian workforce, I accepted a decent-paying job as a defense contractor on a great team, supporting a well-respected customer. I had flexible hours and rarely had to travel. After some arduous Navy deployments, I could definitely appreciate my new “quality of life.” I wanted to stay in this position forever! My mind changed after my first 2% annual inflationary pay raise.
The Cost of Diapers Were Larger Than the 2% Pay Increase
Out of financial necessity, I sent my resume flying and landed a job on another contract that provided me a 20% pay increase. I loved this job even more! Unfortunately, I learned during our annual performance review that my previous 2% pay increase was not an anomaly. It was the industry expectation. Had my family size only grown by 2%, I would have been just fine. However, kids ‘Number Two’ and ‘Number Three’ came along, and the cost of diapers drove me to reconsider how I was managing my career.
Job Hopping Does Not Equal a Career Plan
I knew that job hopping every other year wasn’t a sustainable career plan.
I was a veteran with a security clearance who lived near various military commands. I didn’t have to be an intellectual giant to determine that starting a Federal Government contracting company would probably be my easiest path to correct my financial projections.
Becoming An Entrepreneur
I pursued entrepreneurship to achieve my career and financial goals. Without question, it was the right choice for my family. Perhaps, it’s the right approach for you, as well?
Let’s Summarize: Making Better Career Decisions by Inspecting Your Career Progress
Allow me to summarize with some advice that I received from the Executive Officer on my first ship. He lovingly shared this advice with me during an expletive-laced “counseling session” after he inspected one of my division’s unclean spaces. After being flame sprayed for a half-hour, he summarized his point,
“Ensign Wimmer, you can’t EXPECT what you don’t INSPECT! Do you understand me…SHIPMATE?” Boy, did I ever.
So…Be sure to periodically INSPECT your career progress to make sure that you’re not paying to sit in the same, comfortable seat at work.
Usually, it’s not you who is paying. Sadly, it’s your family.
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