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Once, I was asked at work how much money I wanted to make. I had no idea what to say: I was surviving (on a baked potato lifestyle) off what I was making, but an amount that I actually wanted to make would be impossible for the company. Should I say a realistic number? A big number? Was this casual conversation the start of a negotiation? What did that even mean?
I panicked and joked, "ALL the money!"
This answer was moderately better than the time the boy I really really really liked asked me what I saw for my future, romantically, and I said, "I'm not really looking for a relationship right now." (That was, believe it or not, an attempt to be flirtatiously coy. Romantic flirtation is similar to a negotiation, where you say things related to what you want but not what you actually want, and I am very very bad at that.)
If only I had this article from The Washington Post about negotiating. (Wow, from how I wrote that, you'd think they were paying me to do this post. They're not.)
Here's the main takeaway: instead of asking, "am I making enough?" Ask, "how can I make more?"
Honestly? I don't like it. It sounds selfish and capitalist and privileged and as if you can never be making enough money and I think that's a dangerous framework. But you know what else is a dangerous framework? Never thinking you deserve anything, especially if you live in a city where housing costs are a pile of insane bananas that grow exponentially every few months.
Besides, I think that if you really ask yourself, "how can I make more?" Your answers will not always be, "force my employer to pay me more and more and more and more for no good reason!" Nope, maybe you need to angle for a promotion, find a new job, or start a side hustle. You may have to work for it. A lot.
Then you might decide, "actually, I see what it will take to earn more money, and it's not worth it to me right now," and that's okay, too. Because getting more and more and more and more has a cost, and sometimes it's too high.
Of course, this is advice coming from the girl who joked for five minutes about wanting all the money in a job where she was getting paid in peanut shells instead of requesting a reasonable raise, sooooooo... maybe just read the article and we'll learn things together.
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