9 out 10 Americans willing to swap money for fulfillment

I came across an interesting article on Harvard Business Review about how Americans are willing to trade money for meaningful work

More than 9 out of 10 employees, we found, are willing to trade a percentage of their lifetime earnings for greater meaning at work. Across age and salary groups, workers want meaningful work badly enough that they’re willing to pay for it.

If you could find a job that offered you consistent meaning, how much of your current salary would you be willing to forego to do it? We asked this of our 2,000+ respondents. On average, our pool of American workers said they’d be willing to forego 23% of their entire future lifetime earnings in order to have a job that was always meaningful. The magnitude of this number supports one of the findings from Shawn’s recent study on the Conference for Women. In a survey of attendees, he found that nearly 80% of the respondents would rather have a boss who cared about them finding meaning and success in work than receive a 20% pay increase.

To put this figure in perspective, consider that Americans spend about 21% of their incomes on housing. Given that people are willing to spend more on meaningful work than on putting a roof over their heads, the 21st century list of essentials might be due for an update: “food, clothing, shelter — and meaningful work.”More than 9 out of 10 employees, we found, are willing to trade a percentage of their lifetime earnings for greater meaning at work. Across age and salary groups, workers want meaningful work badly enough that they’re willing to pay for it.

Source: Harvard Business Review

It’s personally relatable to me. When I was young, I used to feel jealous of and compare myself to others in terms of title or salary. I resolved to earn a high salary as quickly as possible, which usually goes with a good title. I achieved my goal at the age of 24, earning a top bracket salary for people at my age and working for one of the biggest corporations in Vietnam. But only after three months, the work was meaningless and the working environment was so stifling that it felt suffocating to get up in the morning and go to the office. Plus, life in Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City was no longer enjoyable. I needed a change.

So I took a 50% pay cut to relocate to Danang, Vietnam and work for a much much smaller company. I learned a lot during my time in a 2nd tier city and a smaller organization, as well as enjoyed my life much more with less money. I felt lucky to learn the lesson quite at the age of 25. Till this day, my time at that corporation was the worst I have ever had. Ironically, for a time in the past, it was all that I wanted. How dumb I was.

We give away 8 hours and a significant amount of mental power to our job. In many cases, it involves other sacrifices such as living away from family or daily long commute. I consider it unlucky to be stuck in a meaningless job with no joy. So if you can have a meaningful job at the expense of a portion of income, my experience is that you should. But of course, life isn’t just that simple. Not everybody is lucky enough to have options.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.