Firstly, we want freedom. We see that paycheque as a way to accomplish whatever it is that we want, and it will help us do it now. We are trading an uncertain future for a certain present. There may be less upside, but we are getting THAT paycheque NOW – and don’t worry, because everyone does it.
Secondly, we strive to build and defend our ego. Yes, I know it’s hard for all of us to admit, but more often than not people will take a job because of the starting pay – it’s high. It makes us feel successful, smart, and respected – it boosts your ego, it justifies your self-worth to the world. Also, by taking a high paying job, we get to gloat (indirectly or directly) to our friends and peers about our great success – in the eyes of the market, we are valuable!
Thirdly, we want safety – we want to know that you can live comfortably off your pay and have the things we want, without threatening our financial future (or so you think).
Don’t get me wrong – I am not saying one should refuse a job because it pays well (that would be absurd!), what I am saying however, is that pay in and of itself should not be the reason you take a job.
So if it’s not about pay, then what is all about?
The key to picking a job should be to go where you can seek out experience and opportunity. Where you will get to grow as a person in skills, responsibilities, and experiences. Where there is opportunity to take on new roles and titles. Where you will get to meet people who are also going down similar paths, learn from them, and grow together. To alter a great quote slightly: “If you go for the pay, you will make a living, if you go for the experience and opportunity, you just might make a fortune” (and undoubtedly will also make a living at the very least).
Getting experience and opportunity upfront might result in a lower pay. It might be joining a new company or a new venture, in which case cash can be tight. You might have to give up some comforts you are used to, but the long term value will outweigh any short term costs. In the long run, going with the higher upfront number, usually results in a lower final sum number.
The whole goal of your personal career is to become the best that you can be at whatever it is you are doing. You want to grow, learn, and engage in new activities.