How much money would you like to earn? More importantly, at what point would an increase in salary and responsibility no longer be worth it?
I asked my fiancé this question on the back of a news story we were talking about on our community radio show on Friday. (Yes, it is everything you imagine – a hut in a playground, the noise of coffee cups in the background – it’s wonderful.)
“I’m not sure,” he said, “about £120,000?”
“£120,000??” I said. “You can tell you’ve come from London. Who earns £120,000??”
“Lots of people!” he said.
“Well, no one I know.”
The actual tipping point, according to research randomly conducted by Anchor Cheddar, (cheese? why?!), is just £37,000. 91% of the 2,000 people surveyed believe that there’s a point at which the extra salary simply isn’t worth the extra stress and the impact this has on your life. This point averaged out at £37,396.
Researchers also found that 56% of us would rather a job which had a low or average salary, but that left us open to have a rich and fulfilled life, than a stressful job which pays well.
Does this figure surprise you?
It doesn’t surprise me at all. I’ve been self-employed now for over six years, and my work flow naturally comes in peaks and troughs. It’s a classic freelance pattern – you go through a quiet phase, panic that no one will ever offer you work again, say yes to everything, then suddenly find yourself with 100 hours a week of work to do. You panic again, cut right back, until you don’t have enough to fill your time.
This could be just me of course, other people may well manage their time much better.
Anyway, my point is that I have come to recognise the points in this cycle at which I am happiest, and they are definitely not the points at which I’m earning the most money. The periods when I am happiest are the periods when I have time to be creative, to think about work from different angles, and to take my time over things. They’re when I can see more of my friends and family, have time to read magazines, watch films and go for spontaneous days out without feeling under pressure to check my phone every five minutes, just in case.
From time to time I feel a surge of ambition, and wonder if I should be striving to grow my business. Perhaps I should have a team, or a fancy office somewhere with bean bags. Maybe I need to start an agency, or become a world famous speaker? And then I think about it a bit more, or chase myself around for a couple of weeks, experimenting with a more hectic workload, and then I realise all over again that money simply isn’t a driving factor for me. Yes, I want to be able to pay the bills and go out to eat, but I don’t need fancy clothes or cars or exotic holidays.
I just need time and freedom.
Do you have a tipping point? What would it be?