During my career, I’ve received a ton of promotions… but not so many raises

How about y’all?

I used to get really excited about them, too. I thought getting a promotion meant that I was doing a good job and people were proud of me. 

These were always my goals. Now, as more of a grown up than I’ve ever been in my life (and this has absolutely nothing to do with age aside from staying alive long enough to untangle the mess that is my brain), my goals have been more internal than external.

What do I mean by that?

I mean that my goals are more about pleasing me than they are about pleasing other people. 

With that, my perspective on receiving promotions at work has changed a lot. 

And, that perspective makes me want to slap past-Jacki in the face very hard with my new Irish gloves (they are so warm and elegant, y’all!). 

But here’s the thing, here’s the argument that past-Jacki would have countered current-me with:

”But I need the money!”

To me, at those times, I saw promotions as a security net, as a way to ensure that I’d be employed longer than my brain was convinced I wold be. 

Cause, I was always terrified of being fired. No matter how hard I worked, no matter how many projects I was in the middle of, no matter how many of the higher ups were dependent on me. 

I was always waiting for the “You lose your job” shoe to drop, because so much was hanging from that single shoe - namely the survival of me and my kid. 

I needed the job because we needed to live. It was that simple. And even when I got more comfortable financially and found myself with a partner who actually wanted to be a team, this fear was always there. Always. 

So when I got a promotion, I took it as a good thing. 

Plus, as someone with horribly low self esteem, simply knowing someone was happy with me really counted for a lot in my brain. Still does - this is something I am actively working on because I deserve better than that.

And you know what? A promotion is a good thing, but if I am asked to do extra labor, I should get extra pay. 

I can’t tell you the amount of times my “boss” was let go and I was just given the work - as a promotion, because they “valued and trusted me” so much. No disussion with me about my workload or skill set or if I was able, mentally, to handle the additional tasks. 

It just got dumped on my desk. And I bent over backwards to make all my other work more efficient so that I could add the new work to my already full plate so that I could keep some sort of work life balance. Ha!

I mean as much as I could with all the work. 

But here’s the thing, when someone leaves the company, the company no longer has to pay their paycheck. When they give you that work for no additional pay, they are getting free labor. 

You are working for free, or, at the very least a discounted rate, because they are getting more out of the hours you are their prisoner. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are things I don’t like about working freelance. Mostly having to find new work, because I am terrible about selling myself, because my brain is very mean to me and bad at remembering anything good, quality work that I did. 

Only the screw ups that it relentlessly beats me up over and over for.

So, what I’m saying is, if I find myself in a situation where I have to sell myself on the fly, it ain’t, uh, gonna fly. I need prep time and I need notes. If I have to do it all quick like and you are there, trying to help me talk myself up, my brain will tell my mouth to downplay any accomplishment or success that has ever happened. 

Remember this warped thinking comes from the brain that also forces my mouth to say this:

”Oh, she just happened.”

When people ask me how I raised such an awesome daughter. And she is like 50 times more awesome than me, so even if I did the bare minimum, so I should have taken the compliment just a little bit. 

I realize now how much my negative self talk was off-putting, and not cute and self-deprecating like I thought it was. 

Oh, back to promotions and raises and all that. 

How often do you get raises? I have done some thinking back to figure out how many raises I’ve had vs. how many jobs I’ve had. 

The number of raises is less than the number of jobs. 

Some of the jobs were short stints of a just over a year that weren’t the right fit for some reason or another. Sometimes I left a job for more money or, in once instance, significantly less cashe so that I could pursue my dream job. 

But one job was over 6 years and I received two whole raises that didn’t even equal ten percent of my starting salary. Or keep up with the rate of inflation. 

And I was thrilled! 

At all of these jobs, I received at least one promotion. Or was forced to take on the work of another employee who left. Almost always I was told, “Oh, it will just be temporary.” 

It never was. It feels like a lie every time I hear it now.   

That’s one of the things I love about being freelance, since I’m working by the job and not some hourly retainer, my time belongs to me.

If you need more of my time, I’ll need to see more of your money. You are paying me for a scope of work and not my time. If the work expands, the employer’s wallet should open. 

It’s that simple. And I think it should be that simple in the corporate world too.

With all of the technology advances in our lifetime, we’re (collectively) working so much harder for so much less. The work/life balance is shrinking so fast.

Fifteen years ago, you didn’t feel pressure to check on your work stuff from home, but now, because of the ‘efficiency’ of email, you’re available all day, erry’day to someone who doesn’t pay you for 24 hours a day.

Please, for me, rethink checking your work email at night and on your weekends. And for you. And for your family. And the world.

It’s your time, focus on things that make you happy.

I lectured a guest at a wedding about this last year. As much as your company says they are a family and they care for you, they will still work you until you set your own boundaries.

They are looking out for the bottom line. That’s it. They will keep giving you work until you say “Stop”.

So please, when you start to feel your work life seeping into your actual life, take a step back and put the focus on the things you love.

No one else will.

I know I am talking from a place of privilege too… I don’t have to work the 9-5 for someone else right now. I get to stay home and actually work on my brain, to untangle the entire mess of it. I get to work on the things I do to earn money whenever I want. On my own schedule.

But when I was in the midst of it, I couldn’t (or didn’t want to) see how much capitalism takes advantage of people pleasers like me. Now I can and it’s honestly pretty horrifying how fucked we all are unless some big sweeping changes.  

I think it sucks that we have to work to simply survive. I used to joke about it in the past, but I am being 100% serious when I say I think we’d all be better off if Universal Basic Income was a thing.

That way- the people who want to work to earn more can. 

The people who want to pursue creative pursuits without having to work a side job to “survive” would be able to. 

IDK, I just think we’d all be happier without the struggle. 

Seems obvious to me, but I know it’s a pipe dream and impossible to even dream of in my lifetime. 

But I can keep planting the seed, you know?

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