Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Shifting Motivation

Two of the major motivational tools at work are Salaries and Grades. A 'promotion' usually involves one or both. Most see a different job that pays the same as a rotation, not progress. Promotions usually involve more money and/ or less time. A company/charity/university may not formally use Grades, but we are pretty good at sniffing out which jobs have more responsibility. Either there is more work, or more people whose work you are directing.

Lifestyle outside of work becomes very dependent on lifestyle at work. There is a knock on effect. A raise increases your 'standard of living' because you can spend more. It may also increase your stress because you have less time to spend. For people who love their work, and choose to devote their energy to it, this isn't a problem. What concerns me is how much everything is driven off that. I would love to see a decoupling.

One of the best savings techniques is to focus not on the number coming in, but the number going out. The 'Save More Tomorrow' plan introduced by Richard Thaler allows employees to sign up to save an increasing percentage of their raises in the future. We find it easier to plan to start running tomorrow. Dieting tomorrow. Being good tomorrow. The advantage of this plan is that there is no adjustment to lifestyle. The increase is just smaller.

I like this idea. I think it can be taken a step further, if your lifestyle depends on spending better, rather than spending more, the number can stay the same or decrease. If increases all go somewhere else, the power that promotions have over your life decreases. Decide on the number you need, not what you get. Ideally work on the number you have already. Aim to spend less, not more. Once you realise you already have enough, the influence of external forces decreases. It doesn't mean you won't carry on doing the same thing. But drawing motivation inside is incredibly empowering.
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