4 Reasons Why Chasing Money Isn’t the Same as Pursuing Happiness

First things first: there’s a difference between negotiating salary and chasing money. The former consists of you advocating for yourself, and insisting on being paid fair wages for your hard work; the latter confuses money with the stuff money is supposed to provide, namely security, happiness, and a bright future. Here’s why chasing a big paycheck isn’t necessarily the path to success.

happy at work

(Photo Credit: giumaiolini/Flickr)

1. Loving your job might mean making more money.

While it’s true that following your passion into the arts and humanities might never make you banker-type money, loving what you do might make you more money for your industry. That’s because it turns out that happy workers are more likely to receive promotions. Demonstrating a devotion to the work, above-par skills, and high rates of productivity could catch the boss’s eye, and all of these traits are easier to call up when you’re doing something that you enjoy. It makes sense that when you focus on doing what you love, you’re better at it, and therefore more likely to advance and earn more money. Plus, there will be some other pretty awesome benefits, as well.

“Happiness at work is closely correlated with greater performance and productivity,” Jessica Pryce-Jones, author of Happiness at Work, told Forbes, “as well as greater energy, better reviews, faster promotion, higher income, better health and increased happiness with life. So it’s good for organizations and individuals, too.”

2. You’ll never know when you’ve gotten there.

Chasing money is like chasing fame or beauty. How does one know when they’ve actually arrived at their goal? How famous is famous enough? How beautiful? How rich? Chasing money is a lot like dogs chasing cars, not only is it impossible to catch your target, but you could get hurt during the process. Allowing stress about money (and the pursuit of it) to dominate your life could have a negative impact on your overall health and well being. Maybe there is a better (or at least a safer) way to go about achieving financial success. Think about dogs chasing cars whenever you need a reminder.

3. Motivation helps you advance professionally, and money doesn’t motivate.

It might feel good to make more money, or you might think that it will, but research has shown that earning more actually does almost nothing to fire up productivity. Losing money (making less than before) does tend to have a negative impact on motivation, but increasing it doesn’t make much of a difference in either direction.

If one of your ultimate goals is to earn more, know that staying motivated, enthusiastic, and highly productive could earn you a promotion and don’t wait for more money to come in to step up your game. Basically, the bottom line here is that focusing on doing your job as best as you can will likely lead to a better salary than focusing on chasing the salary itself.

4. Because it really won’t make you happy anyway.

Money and happiness aren’t as connected as you may think. In fact, research has shown that once an annual salary of $75,000 is reached ($85,000 in today’s dollars) an individual’s happiness basically plateaus, making little difference in one’s day-to-day mood. Friends, family, feelings of fulfillment – these are what bring us happiness (that is, once our survival needs are met) so, maybe we should be focusing on that instead.

To be happy at work, you need to feel like you’re being paid a fair wage, but you also need things like a decent boss, a schedule and commute that won’t drive you crazy, and a sense that what you do matters.

In the end, happiness is a more tangled puzzle than earnings can resolve. So, while it’s important to negotiate for the salary you deserve, don’t forget to focus on the less tangible markers of a happy working life, as well.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you think it’s a good idea to go after more money, or is another goal a better idea? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.