Here's what I learned about work-life balance, finding fulfillment, and why salary isn't everything.
In college, life after graduation seems like a dream—no homework, studying for finals, or late night cram sessions. It’s the first chance to use your college degree, attend business meetings and brainstorms, get a big paycheck, and have financial freedom.
Financial security is important, but it’s not the only thing that matters. Once expenses are paid, studies show that an increase in your paycheck doesn’t always equate to happiness. And after having three jobs in three years, I can certainly attest to that. I learned a lot about work-life balance, finding fulfillment, and why salary isn’t everything.
Here’s the rundown of my three jobs in three years – and what I learned from each.
The Resume Builder Job
After graduating college, I landed a job that seemed to fit perfectly with my career goals. It was in my field, it paid well, and it looked great on a resume. My boss told me to view this job as my master’s degree and learn as much as I could. I spent the first year observing everything — listening in on meetings, being mentored by my coworkers, taking notes, asking questions, and networking.
After a year, I began to feel unfulfilled, uninspired, and generally unhappy at work. I was torn because on paper it was a picture-perfect job that I knew would open up doors for me. However, there came a point when I couldn’t do it anymore. So, I put in my two weeks notice and accepted my “dream job.” While this first job wasn’t it for me, I’m glad I took advantage of learning as much as I could from my incredibly smart coworkers.
The Dream Job
Since fifth grade, I’d dreamed of being a wedding planner; so I was ecstatic to accept a position planning weddings. I loved everything about this job. I loved the people, the environment, and the work. It seemed like a perfect fit.
There was one problem: The work-life balance was non-existent. I was newly married and working 70 hours a week. I was gone every night and weekend for six months. While I loved the work, I felt like I was missing out on my first year of marriage. Ultimately, I made the decision to choose my family over my job, and for the second time in two years, I quit my job.
The Work-Life Balance Job
Millennials are known to switch jobs frequently. They’ll often take a job for less money if it provides balance and unique perks. At this point, I’d had two jobs within two years—which doesn’t look great on a resume. I knew I needed to find a job that paid the bills, engaged my interests, and provided work-life balance.
After a three-year search, I finally found a job that met all my needs. I realized quickly that money definitely doesn’t buy happiness. It’s important to be responsible, work hard, and pay your bills — but it’s equally important to find a job that engages your mind and soul. Plus, when you spend 40 or more hours a week at work, it’s essential to like what you do.
Have the courage to make a change if you’re unhappy. Three jobs in three years taught me to prioritize my wants and needs and make them happen.