Illustration by Christian Leborg


How much is your work worth?

You reveal your worth when you log experience, income, and rewards. They show your values and what your stakeholders value about you.

It is difficult to discover what you enjoy when you drown in procedures and bad work. You may have chosen your profession from a deep desire to create something you enjoy doing as a creative professional. It seems you spend a third of your time doing something that does not reflect who you are. Your engagement in work is important for you, your employer and for all your customers.
Consider what career options you have available. The position you now have in your career, and whatever skills you possess, give you ideas of the new work you could pursue. Come up with a list of five industries or professions your competence match. When I did this exercise, I came up with: 1. Coach/mentor 2. User experience designer 3. non-fiction writer 4. Career consultant and 5. Business designer. Combine your options with the lifestyle you want.  Identify your ideal future reality. What would your dream life feel like?
Innate skills combined with ideas from mentor lifestyles
I presume more job satisfaction is your primary goal. An overview of the projects you have done makes you see what you have contributed to and how much money you have earned in your lifetime. Create a balance sheet of your assets and liabilities. By calculating how much money you trade your life energy for, you get a perspective on the projects you sell your time and energy for. You need to discover and create new work activities when your present work does not satisfy you.
Not all work activities can give you job satisfaction. If you accept this assumption, it may contribute to you choosing a career that has status and is considered a safe choice but does not necessarily produce good work. Do not waste time and energy on that kind of work. Another strategy is to explore competencies that are highly valued, but not so widespread. This would cause work that may not bring you joy in the beginning. But when you are reaching an adequate skill level it will eventually provide joy for you.

Fulfilling work consists of:  

  • Challenges on the right level that makes you enter flow
  • Financial independence and professional autonomy
  • Meaningful work as an enjoyable and significant career
Work-life is seldom perfect. And besides, you may not earn enough money to pay the bills and at least not save any. There is another way to work. A way where you do meaningful work, that makes you productive, and because of that has the economic comfort you need. You will get this balance right if you accept both your inner motivation and your outer responsibilities. 
Serving others
Your work and the financial situation that the work has given you reflect the actions you have taken to shape your existence. If you are not happy with your financial situation, you need to look more closely at your body of work. The financial situation work has put you in shows what you have accepted regarding invested time and energy and what you have received as rewards. Now, try out different work ideas to determine the activities that will satisfy you.
You need to be paid what you are worth.–Joanne Hession
Go through your resume of the work you have done over the years. If you have not made a proper resume, take the time to make an exact log of all the work you have done. Make a portfolio to see if the work has yielded results that are valuable to you and others. Records of all your projects so far will improve the overview of your career. For me it was quite fun to revisit all the jobs i have had and the projects that stood out.
Recount the things that did not go well. The projects that you did not get, customers that left you, or when you got fired. Just as with the rewards, log the results and the reason for the results. These statistics make you put together and create ideas on how you can change your career towards something more valuable. When you apply metrics to your work, you automatically increase the productivity. Getting things done shows that you enjoy doing it. 
You need to decide on some concrete ideas for your job or career after you have tried several ideas to work in different industries and professions. You may even have innovated new ways of working. Your work point to what is valuable to you and to the recipients of your services. The new job you decide on must be something you like doing that you are good at and that people will pay you money for. It all starts with your values and other peoples values.
Experiencing different careers
Money earned is a measure of the value you produce at work and the money leads towards a broader meaning. As an example, what customers pay you or your employer money for, reveal what is their problem or needs that you may solve. When you help, you show empathy for their struggle. If you recognise problems people have and you can help them, you most probably will. The money and other rewards that come and go in your life will show what is valuable to you and to the people you help.
Money and meaning
When you start a new job, change your career or decide to work differently, your customers will react to it. If you put out experiments to measure their behaviour, you will learn what is valuable to all your stakeholders and whether it converges with what is important to you. To know what you earn, having subtracted the cost of your work, is one such experiment. Both if the work feels meaningful or not, but if you cannot maintain the work, the experiment has failed.
If you do what is not valuable to you, it proves that you are trying to solve the wrong problem. There are needs in the world that only you can satisfy. Find problems you are the right person to solve. How well you manage your personal fortune shows whether you are on the right track. Work that gives other people a better life, but that makes your life worse, is not the right direction to take. Gain an entrepreneurial attitude and look at your work as a market offering—even if you are an employee.

Exercise: Make a Venn diagram that shows the overlap of your preferences, your competence and what ‘your people’ are in need of.

Robin, Vicki; Dominguez, Joe. Your Money or Your Life

Hession, Joanne; Baker, Joan. Don't Get A Job, Build A Business