Most people have high expectations of their first paycheck.
The promise of getting your first job is like a treasure chest containing wonderful jewels of life — like independence from your family, a ticket into real adulthood, the promise of defining your own life and finding your way in the world.
And depending on the profession you’ve chosen, you will either be satisfied with your first paycheck, or completely disillusioned. I think it’s safe to say that your initial ‘price tag’ — or salary — might not be what you imagined it would be.
I discovered Jim Rohn a few years ago and loved his definition of how we bring value to the marketplace: “You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.” It took me a while to assimilate this but it eventually helped me to get free from connecting my income to my sense of worth.
Your salary is not a determination of your worth. It is a remuneration of your current skills set. Your salary is a cost to your organisation in exchange for the benefit of your service. Earning a salary is a great way to start out your career and gain experience — but in the light of the fourth industrial revolution, it’s short-sighted to make that a long-term plan.
So many university students that I’ve been interacting with are teeming with entrepreneurial ideas. Some already have start-ups on the go as they take on their first job, knowing that they have a side business that can eventually turn into their full time gig.
Increasing your value in the marketplace
The world doesn’t owe you anything. Entitlement in the workplace, in any form, is not rewarded.
Never be limited by your salary and don’t let your job title define you. Give your best at work, serve your company and your clients as if you were an owner in that business. What you don’t realise is that your work shapes you.
As you expand your skills set, gain experience and learn how to solve problems, your value to the marketplace grows simultaneously.
One of Rohn’s refrains is also: “If you do more than what you get paid to do, soon you will get paid more for what you do.” Some might scoff at this idea but I’ve found it to be true in my own life. We all you have a choice to make: you can either be limited by your salary or you can be guided by your salary.
The answer is not to focus on getting more — but to better manage what you have right now. If you learn to manage what you have well, then you will soon receive more to manage.
Most people want the increase in salary — but they don’t want the increase in responsibility that comes with the higher pay package.
So if you want to define your price tag, decide to show up for yourself everyday. The best way to future proof yourself in the rapidly advancing world of work is to inculcate an entrepreneurial mind set.
Become someone who takes initiative, who thinks creatively, who is adaptive and flexible. Make the commitment to lifelong learning. Be realistic about what you have to offer. Resolve to know yourself better than others do. Be open to constructive feedback.
Stay humble and keep growing.
Eventually, you will get to determine the price tag on your work — once you’ve proven your value to the market.
Work week reflection question: What is my current value to the market? How can I increase my value to the market in the short to long-term?