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Wellbeing / Work motivation

Work satisfaction: You can keep your money

In our Understanding Micro Business survey, we found average happiness levels ranked at 8/10, while satisfaction with income languished at 5/10.

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I reckon not only does money not provide work satisfaction or make you happy, but the pursuit of it can make you downright miserable.

Every soloist I know who’s taken on a job just for the money ends up regretting it. I’m not talking about lucrative jobs that you’re good at and enjoy. I’m talking about the ones where the money twists your arm.

Here’s why jobs taken on just for the money rather than the work satisfaction are generally a bad idea.

You’re less likely to love your work

I took on a corporate brochure which was a great earner, but each word I cranked out was like extracting teeth.

Jobs like this can throw you because it’s not that you can’t, it’s just that, well, you don’t want to.

You can find yourself out of your depth

While coaches and the like may well tell you it’s good to be nudged out of your comfort zone, there’s a fine line between being stretched and being compromised. At least I think so.

"While coaches and the like may well tell you it’s good to be nudged out of your comfort zone, there’s a fine line between being stretched and being compromised."

I found the corporate brochure extremely hard work. I pulled it off, but not before a few sleepless nights agonising about the client’s feedback.

I didn’t ‘grow’ or ‘enjoy the challenge’. I just felt uncomfortable and anxious.

Want more articles like this? Check out the work motivation section.

Strings are attached

If they’d have hated it, I’d have had to have redone it. The amount they were paying entitled them to that. I’d have had to have got outside help, making the project more complex, less lucrative and in short, a total nightmare.

It didn’t happen, thank goodness, but easily could have.

Deadlines are tight

Those paying a premium expect results quick smart. I’m a soloist who prefers to smell the roses than the next essential coffee. Unless I’m working on something I’m passionate about and provides work satisfaction, tight deadlines send me into a panic.

You’re selling out

I’ve always felt a bit guilty that I didn’t do a great job for that client. It was okay, but it’s not taking pride of place in my portfolio.

It’s unfair to them and to you when you know in your heart that you’re not giving them the best value.

Writing that ‘ticks the boxes’ doesn’t make me feel good and part of me envies writers with no such qualms.

Lovely as it was to have some more money that quarter, I would rather eat beans on toast for a month than go through that experience again.

What about you? What are your thoughts on work satisfaction? Are you a soul-seller or someone who’d rather earn less, but smile more?

Sam Leader

is a former director of Flying Solo and the co-author of Flying Solo - How to go it alone in business.

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