This week I had a coworker decide to resign. She’s my age, she works well over 16 hours a day and is very good at what she does. However, she also doesn’t have kids and very little of a life. Now, I agree, some folks are perfectly happy with this situation – both having no kids, and no life.
However, I definitely understand that this isn’t how she feels. She wants a life. She wants more than the paycheck. She’s now resigned. Today we talked about something I had a mentor tell me more than once to take notice of – and she literally came to tears when I used the phrase: “It’s about Respect & Reward”
She, someone who seems to never be at a loss for words, sucked in her breath. “That’s. Exactly. It.” she said. Barely breathing even. “I’m going to use that exact phrase in my exit interview”
In today’s day and age I see a lot on facebook about the 78% that women make less than men. I could go on for days about both sides of the equation. But the third side that I like to take is that “humans are making less than other humans.” As a pillar of this blog, we need to remember that I’m more than just my gender, or my race, or any other of my demographics. I need to value myself – and sometimes I feel like we as humans don’t do that. In fact, I’ve met plenty of male graduates who don’t know how to value themselves at an initial interview with a company – how much salary, how much vacation to ask for, where they line up with their counterparts.
My first answer, every the data geek, is to say “do your research”. I know that compensation is a hard place to talk to friends about – so hit the interwebs. I’m personally a fan of Salary.com, where I can type in job titles and the site returns job descriptions (also handy for wording your resume!) and a distribution of salaries in your area. While these vary widely sometimes, the more detailed you get, the better the estimate overall, in my personal experience.
Outside of the money issue though – you need to focus on the bigger picture. What are you actually signing up for? Are you signing up to be a workaholic, are you okay with this? I hear the phrase “But in this market….” So much nowadays that it lowers your bar by which my fear always says, “Okay then, I’m willing to take on more if it means I get to keep a paycheck.” I continue to struggle to find the balance between what I can do: my kid still has to be picked up, the groceries still must be bought and cooked but then again, the bills much still be paid. As well as what my body and mind can actually take on: frustration, exhaustion, success, productivity, life worth.
In the end, I have to come to terms with what Stella needs. I need to breathe, but I need to work and continue to be the breadwinner. There’s a lot of pressure to make sure that the roof stays up and the table stays full. Additionally, there’s only one me, and energy can run thin. How do you handle the stress and the balance of feeling the crunch of having to provide vs. needing to live?
Photo Credit: Kleins.com