I’m a firm believer that not everyone should be an entrepreneur. It takes a unique skill set and perspective. Failures must be viewed as opportunities. Entrepreneurs operate in a complex realm, trying to solve problems with new solutions.
If this isn’t part of your DNA, don’t worry. “Traditional” employees are still needed in our economy. The skills to succeed in today’s fast-paced, technological age may evolve. But for those willing to adapt, you are capable of a bright financial future.
When you think about long-term wealth creation, there are two important pieces: earnings and expenses.
Let’s focus on earnings for a minute. Do you agree that those who are satisfied in their career have higher earnings potential than those who are unhappy? I certainly hope so.
The statistics are alarming. According to this 2016 Fortune article, job satisfaction is at an 11-year high: around 50%.
Only Half the Nation Is Satisfied With Their Jobs
What can we do to get that metric closer to 100%? I think it takes an honest assessment and exploration into personal strengths and abilities. Let’s say you realize your career isn’t a great fit. What steps should you take to correct your course? There are a couple of options. If books are more your style, I’d suggest reading Jon Acuff’s book Do Over or Jeff Goins’ book The Art of Work. Otherwise, there are career counselors who specialize in administering lengthy assessments and helping you interpret the results. The Highlands Ability Battery is one such assessment. Other popular, DIY options include MBTI Instrument, Gallup’s StrengthsFinder and Kolbe.
Even if you choose the DIY route, I don’t think you can take a single test and suddenly discover your best career fit. Many of the assessments should be used together to help you evaluate possible options. (For related reading, see: Is a Career in Financial Planning in Your Future?)
Don’t think for a minute that this career exploration process is easy. I spent most of 2015 going through these exercises. I took MBTI (Myers Briggs), StregthsFinder, and Kolbe and even registered for a course by Tsh Oxenreider called "Upstream Field Guide," which was less about job clarity and more about life transformation. Very powerful!
Clearly, the available resources are endless. If there’s a will, there’s a way.
How to Increase Earnings and Wealth
Now, let’s suppose you’re in a career in which you’re ideally suited. What tangible steps do you take to increase earnings and build long-term wealth?
- Learn the power of negotiation. I know this is especially scary for most females. It’s no secret that the wage gap is still wide—on average, women earn 77 cents to every dollar earned by males. A big reason for this discrepancy is fear of asking for more. Women were raised to be prim and proper. We were raised to seek permission instead of forgiveness. To close the gender gap, we need to brush up on our negotiation skills and demand equal pay. We must ask for raises and approach annual reviews from a position of power rather than weakness. (For related reading, see: One Big Factor Driving the Gender Pay Gap.)
- If married, look at your entire family unit as a source of wealth. Don’t keep score as to which spouse is earning more. Rather, view earnings collectively. Many women are emerging as the primary or equal breadwinners. Men: consider her education level and the long-term outlook of her chosen career. If her earnings potential is higher, maybe you can shoulder additional household responsibility and act as more of the “present parent” to your children. Divorce is costly on all fronts—emotionally and financially. Work together towards common financial goals.
- Hire an expert. Unless you have training as a certified financial planner or other personal finance professional, you may be making costly financial mistakes. Some of my clients are well-educated in investments and rely on my guidance to point out pitfalls; others are confused by investment terminology. It’s my mission to educate and empower all families to make great financial decisions. There are plenty of fee-only financial planners with a similar mission. Visit NAPFA’s website for more details or to find an advisor in your area.
In closing, career satisfaction—whether entrepreneurship or traditional employment—has a direct correlation to earnings potential. Higher earnings, coupled with smart spending, enables you to build long-term wealth. What are you waiting for? I recently wrote an article that questioned whether jobs are becoming obsolete. It provides additional context for today’s article.
(For more from this author, see: 6 Ways to Make Sure You Achieve Financial Goals.)