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Why A Salary Is For Schmucks

October 3, 2013

Suppose someone very similar to you has a nice, comfy salary of $120,000 per year, or whatever figure sounds cozy. Pretty enviable? Before you say yes, let’s see what can we conclude about this guy:

1. His income is fixed. It isn’t going to fluctuate at all, other than to go up incrementally, maybe 3%-5% per year, if he’s lucky, or immediately to $0, if he gets fired. Tiny upside, huge downside. What this means is that if he wants to increase his spending in one area, he has to decrease it in another. Better vacations = fewer lattes, more savings = fewer vacations, and so on. What’s more, with a very high probability, his net worth is hovering somewhere in the red because he is carrying debt and spending everything he earns on a monthly basis. If his net worth is either increasing or in the black, he is the exception rather than the rule. Most likely, he wishes he made more money.

2. His time is spoken for. His working hours are never going to decrease. He isn’t going to be able to invent a labor-saving system to get the same results in less time. He isn’t going to be able to hire people to replace him. He’s going to be at the same place, doing the same thing, for at least 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, no matter what. And, statistically speaking, his job is probably just something he does to pay the bills, and he spends his time away from his job doing things that won’t make a difference to anybody’s life, that aren’t contributing to changing the world, and that nobody will remember after he is gone. Most likely, he hangs out at the same places every week, follows the same routine, and sees the same people. Or maybe he travels for his job and wants to spend more time at home. Chances are he wants to eat better, get better sleep, be more fit, meet more people, take more vacations, and develop himself in multiple ways, but thinks he is too busy. Whatever hopes and dreams he has are going unfulfilled. Quite possibly he doesn’t even know what they are, or has forgotten them. And almost certainly, he wishes he had more time.

Essentially his world is one of clearly marked paths, of inviolable boundaries, of trade-offs and compromise. His pie is only so big, and he can only slice it into so many pieces. The dots are laid out for him, and he can only connect them so many ways. His known world is mapped, and elsewhere there be dragons. The world beyond the borders of his experience seems to have as much depth as a projection on a movie screen. Most likely, he wants to change his life but doesn’t know how.

Still want to be that guy?

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From → Money, Prosperity

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