Salary vs. Self-Worth: How To Know How Much You Are Worth

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Do you know how much you are worth?

How much is your time worth to you? To your employer? To the people you love?

It’s hard to put a number on it. Most people don’t know. It comes down to your self-worth.

In some cases our time is priceless and in other cases we sell it at Costco wholesale prices to employers.

From a career standpoint, most people look to their salary or hourly wage, but there are a couple of things I hate about salaries:

  • You don’t get paid more for working more on weeknights or weekends
  • It’s based on a company’s or industry’s pay scale, not your true value
  • The higher it is, the more trapped you feel it’s your only source of income

What is your true value?

That’s why most people think they should be paid more than they are being paid now.

But your true value is not based on:

  • What you make now
  • Your company’s pay scale
  • Your school’s averages
  • Industry averages
  • How the economy is doing
  • How long you’ve been working where you are

Your true value is based on:

  • What you honestly believe
  • you could earn in profit
  • on your own
  • over the next 12 months
  • by using your existing gifts, talents, strengths, and skills
  • to solve problems for others

Your true value is based on your next best alternative. If I currently get paid $60,000, but I “feel like” or ” I think I deserve” $100,000, the only way to prove that is for me to go command that $100,000 somewhere else through entrepreneurship or employment. If you feel you’re being underpaid by $40,000, why would you stay if you really believe you’re worth more? It doesn’t make sense.

Based on my definition of “true value,” you would leave a $60,000 job the moment you felt you could earn $65K or more on your own or elsewhere. We can think we are worth more than we’re getting, but the reality is that we’re only worth what we’re getting. That’s the only way to know how much you are worth.

So in order to calculate how much you’re selling your time for now vs. how much you want to be selling it for, I created this self-worth calculator for you.

It makes is super easy for you to see the difference between where you are and where you want to be.

The Self-Worth Calculator:

Directions: In put your current and desired salaries or annual income and drag the blue bars to reflect how many hours and weeks you work per year in each scenario to know how much you are worth and how much you want to be worth.

It’s intuitive. Just drag the blue bars.

1. Input your current salary
2. Divide it by the average hours your work per week
3. Divide that by the average # of weeks you work per year
4. That will give you your hourly rate before and after taxes
5. Repeat steps 1-4 for your desired salary, hours per week, weeks per year

How To Close The Self-Worth Gap

No matter how big the gap is between your current and desired time value, I know that it can be closed. I believe that when someone earns their first 3-or-4 figure check outside the context of a job whether they plan to stay or go, they move through the world and their career with a renewed sense of confidence. That’s my goal.

The best way to keep your employer in check is to always be testing the market as an employee or entrepreneur. As an employee, I encourage you to interview at least 4 times a year just to know what’s out there. Without jumping from job to job, the best way to really know how much you’re worth is to sell your skills on the side as a coach or consultant and see how much you can command independently. You can selling consulting to smaller companies that your employer would never serve because of budget or industry. Or you can sell coaching to individuals who want to be like you or need skills for a personal problem.

In this day in age, employers aren’t loyal and it’s in your best interest to always be testing the waters so that you don’t get washed up. We are beyond the time of “You’re lucky to have a good job.” The 40-40 Club, the idea of working for one company for 40 hours a week for 40 years, is closed. We all have to see ourselves as entrepreneurs. An employee is an entrepreneur with one big client—which is dangerous no matter how much you are getting paid.

In this time where employers have gained so much power because of high unemployment, outsourcing, technology, deunionization, ballooning CEO pay, buying votes through corporate lobbying, and stagnant wages, we as employees—the true economic engine of the economy—need to rise up and stand in our power. And the greatest form of power of knowing your value and not settling for less than you deserve.

Wishing you more happy hours,


Check out my other posts on self-worth:

Why Your Salary Doesn’t Matter

6 Things To Figure Out When You Hit 6-Figures