Money, Freedom and Time


Mark McGuinness, a creative entrepreneur, says that  a creative person needs three things to be happy:

  1. Freedom – to do what you want, when you want and how you want it. Not just in
    holidays and spare time – but also doing meaningful work, in your own way.
  2. Money – to maintain your independence and fund your creative projects. Of course you want a nice place to live, but you’re not so worried about a bigger car than the guy next door. You’d rather spend money on experiences than status symbols.
  3. Time – to spend as you please, exploring the world and allowing your mind to wander in search of new ideas.

Even if you’re not thinking of starting your own creative business, this can be a great way to think about future job offers.

Note first that I changed his order of priorities.  People like Mark need freedom in order to be creative – it’s his first priority.  For most jobseekers, money is the main issue; they need to get their cash flow under control.  This need can prompt jobseekers to take the first offer that comes along – and lead to buyer’s remorse later, as they discover how confining the new job is.  And if you hate what you do, where you work, or who you work with, no amount of money can make you less miserable.

Studies have indicated that job satisfaction is strongly linked to the amount of discretion and autonomy (read: “freedom”) a worker has.  Being able to control your hours, your flow of work or your assignments can make your job more enjoyable. Unplanned overtime, last minute emergencies, and a job that is entirely reactive instead of proactive can lead to more stress.  Are you asking about or considering the amount of autonomy you’ll have when you consider an offer?

Time also has value, and it becomes more valuable as you get older.  Many baby boomers I speak to would give up some salary for more free time; it’s just that most jobs come in only one 40 to 50-hour-per-week  size, and working part-time is not considered really “working.”  If you factor the value of your free time into a contract or part-time offer, you may be surprised at how differently you view an offer.   You may discover that you have time to work out and maintain your fitness, plan and eat healthy meals at home, forgo the cost of housecleaning or child care, and pursue other opportunities.

Next time you’re considering an offer, factor in all three components: money, freedom and time.  You may be able to negotiate the factor that will balance your current needs.

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