Don’t chase the money?

I’m sure that many of us have heard the saying or been encouraged to “not to chase the money”. Like somehow that if we care about getting paid, especially large sums of money, that somehow it will negate or cloud our ability to do good work for people or enjoy our chosen career path.

In this post I would like to cover a few reasons why I think that is terrible advice, and why we SHOULD care about the money.

My advice? Don’t let money be your identity, but understand that it is a tool and you do need enough of it, preferably more than enough of it.

Just like we shouldn’t let money define our identity, we also shouldn’t let our career have the ultimate dominion over shaping our life or identity. Our career should enable us to live a good life, not force us to live for our career.

Money won’t make you happy, but having money and being able to do things with it like buying experiences, investing in personal growth, and helping others can definitely make you happy.

Being broke creates complexities and stressors that are definitely a source of unhappiness.

Living a good life likely takes more money than you (and others) currently believe it does. Being able to live a good life, plus accumulate enough for retirement, and help others will likely take a LOT MORE than you currently believe it does.

Just because you love your work and are passionate about it, does not mean that “the money will follow”. Especially if you don’t have a financial target in mind.

You may even find that you are coming close to what you ARE aiming for. Something to think about is where that number you are aiming for, comes from. Your parents? Job boards? Statistics provided by the government?

“Don’t chase the money” is a play on words. Just a subtle way of making us feel guilty.

Of course we don’t chase money, but this statement plants an idea in our mindset (belief system) that having a desire to earn more is slightly taboo, or is not what we are meant to decide for ourself.

To me it seems that usually the people who share this advice fall into a few different categories (a) they have accepted that advice themself and want you to believe it too or (b) they want you to do something for them that ultimately puts more money in their pockets at the expense of your time, skills, and labor.

Generally speaking, everyone wants more money for themselves, and corporations and companies all want to turn a profit or increase their valuation.

That’s just how the world works.

So before you decide to just settle for what the market, HR, and job boards are telling you to settle for - do your math homework and decide what amount of money is right for you.

At this point you will likely get a LOT of pushback from yourself internally and from those around you.

The next step is figure out what kind of value that you can provide to others that will enable you to reach that goal.

Suggesting to ourselves or to others that we should feel guilty for wanting to earn more so that we can also live a good life and help others, keeps us all from doing just that.

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Nathan Bray

Founder / UX / Design