A couple of days ago, a friend and I were talking about the cost of work.
I had come across a study which stated that job related expenses (work clothing, gasoline, car maintenance, lunch/eating out, child care, etc.) can easily take out 30 percent of our paycheck.
Some might say that non-financial factors, like job satisfaction, can balance it out. But what if your work is not stimulating and you can’t stand your colleagues? You then have to take into consideration what I call the psychological cost of work.
We often forget or ignore the stress and exhaustion that come with doing monotone work—we just accept them as part of the deal “to pay the bills.”
We find different ways to release some of that tension. As a nine to fiver, as soon as pay-day arrived, I would run to the closest store and buy new clothes. Wearing them for the first time gave me an instant boost. It’s only later when I started doing what I really loved that I understood why I shopped so much. The clothes were quick fixes to me feeling worthless at my job. That’s how I numbed the pain, until one day it hit me: doing work you love doesn’t just make sense emotionally, it makes sense financially too.
The good news is that we can reduce the cost of work and increase joy in our lives by taking these five steps that really helped me.
Step #1—Knowing is enlightening: Take the test.
Get the full picture of your current situation. Parents.com has created a test that lets you see how much going to work costs you. This first step is hard and takes a lot of courage, but I know you have it in you.
Step #2—Cut the evil spending.
In her book Money, A Love Story, Kate Northrup tells us to first recognize spending habits that make us feel like crap. For you, is it buying stuff online that you really don’t need? Next, understand your compulsive spending habits. Why do you spend on those things in the first place: is it after a bad day at work or when you feel stressed about all the bills you have to pay? This will open your eyes to what’s really making you spend so much.
Step #3—Cut back where you can.
Now that you know where your money goes, start making cuts. Here are a few tips:
>>> Prepare your own lunch.
>>> Spend less on clothes. Organize a swap party with friends. Become a second-hand fashionista.
>>> Work from home when you can. Start by showing your boss how productive you are when you stay home. This will help you save on gas, parking and cut eating out costs.
>>> Cycle to work or carpool. Great for your pockets and the environment.
Step # 4—Find what you really love.
With lots of responsibilities, we often put aside our passion and focus on sure ways of making money. The problem is that to be fulfilled, we need to do work related to our unique gift and to what we love doing. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to figure this out:
>>> If money wasn’t an issue and nobody would judge you, what would you do right now? Close your eyes and let the answers come to you.
>>> What advice or help do you always get asked for? These are your strengths. Use them to guide you on your path to starting a lucrative business that reflects your gift and your passion.
As you have read, going to work has a cost that increases when you’re not doing what you love. The good news is that you can reduce both the financial and the psychological costs of your current work situation. First, assess your expenses and find ways to reduce them. Second, get in touch with your inner self and ask “How do I honestly feel about my current work situation? Do I truly believe that I deserve to be happy? What can I do to start doing what I love?”
Once you find what will give you the most satisfaction and help others at the same time, you are on the winning track! I promise you that if you take these few simple steps, you will get more clarity on what you need to do to increase happiness and abundance in your life.
What is the cost of your work? What simple step can you take now to plan your re-creation?
I look forward to reading you.
Author: Stéphanie Dauphin
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Pixoto/Rahul Gaywala