Over the course of my career, I’ve found it fascinating how your financial satisfaction affects what you think and what you think affects your financial satisfaction.
For example, I once got a pay increase from 10k to 12k which made me much happier than larger raises I got later on in my career.
And I’ve learned over the years that a raise is like a meal, in that it only makes you happy for a while, then you start wondering where the next meal is coming from. You easily modify your outgoings, which worked fine at 30k, so that you’re suddenly not earning enough at 45k. How does that happen?
It’s a truism in advertising creative departments that you are underpaid for the first half of your career and overpaid for the second half. Can’t someone just work it out so that you’re paid the average for your whole career?
I have never shaken the feeling that I had as an underpaid junior, that I need to make the most of any situation in which the beer is free. I may have stopped taking bottles home in my pockets, but there’s still that distant voice that tells me fill my boots while the going’s good.
Then there’s the other truism (or truth), that people would rather earn 50k if everyone else in the office earns 45k, than 85k if everyone else in the office earns 100k.
So it’s all relative.
I love the line in Wall Street where Charlie Sheen asks Gordon Gekko ‘How many boats can you waterski behind?’. Is it human nature to always want more, or can we temper that somewhat? I think we can. I suppose it depends on the lifestyle you’d like to live, but there must be a point where the extras become less satisfying.
I often see great people moving to unexpected agencies. I am often told afterwards that the great person in question is going through a divorce.
A team I once knew insisted on staying nowhere for longer than three years. Then they stayed where they were for the next five. Perhaps the never-ending desire to acquire more money can be quenched by happiness.
So, past a certain point, is money a substitute for happiness?
Perhaps it’s worth remembering that money is worthless until you spend it.
Many wise people say that you should never move agencies for money rather than happiness. Good advice, but if you can, try to move for happiness and money. Then give the excess to Amnesty International.