Don't Show Me The Money

If you’re just starting out as a solo professional (or still have a full time job and haven’t yet made your move), you may find it hard to imagine that the day will come when you’re turning work away.  Believe me, it will, and at that point, you’ll have a new challenge: What to accept and what to turn down.

I used to find this difficult, and for a long time tried to apply all kinds of checklists and ranking systems for evaluating the kind of work I wanted to do.  These approaches tried to incorporate the typical factors — things like type of work, location of client, time frame, and of course, money.

It worked okay, but not great, and I sometimes found myself in the midst of work that I didn’t really want to do.  Then I stumbled on a much simpler, much more reliable approach….

I take the money out of the decision.

Yes, you heard me correctly.  When a potential project arrives at my door, I say to myself, “If I had all the money in the world, and I only worked for the fun of it, would I want to do this?”

Amazingly — and I’m not exaggerating — with that simple approach to framing the question, I can instantly distinguish the great projects from the ones I’m simply rationalizing because of the paycheck involved.

One more thing.  I’m not “giving up more money in exchange for satisfaction.”  I like making money (a lot of it), and after seven years on my own I’ve made significantly more each year.  What I’ve discovered, however, is that doing work you love is ultimately the path to riches — not vice versa.

Try it and let me know how it works for you!

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