I recently had a discussion with a friend (who I don’t think will mind me mentioning this), who is an arts major, graduated 13 years ago and has been in the work force for more or less the same time period. He has worked in several roles including operations, account management and sales. The discussion we had revolved around several topics however we then came around to discussing our jobs, salaries and what the future may hold. He then brought up a point that that struck a nerve with me and we had a great discussion (I love discussing, blunt and straight forward with folks who, like myself don’t take any offense however see every discussion as an opportunity for growth) about it. He said something along the lines of – “Hermann, I’m an arts major who has never done anything with art except draw in my free time and regardless of what job I do, in the end it’s the person hiring me or the company that is willing to offer me a job that ends up determining what I will receive as a salary. You need to look across the industry and that’s it. In my line of work I’ll max out at around €60K a year at some point until I retire or something else happens.”

That statement really hit me and I said something along the lines of

“(Insert Name – keeping it private) look, there are three things I can tell you right off the bat that are completely wrong with your statement. I believe you are personally delusional in regards to your reality and what you believe to be true when it comes to your earning potential. There is absolutely nothing that hinders you to go beyond a €60K income or compensation regardless of what you do.

First, you are not the only liberal arts graduate on the market. There are plenty of people that I work with that have degrees in philosophy or literature and they work at a tech company, some very successful on executive levels. Second, it’s not only your art degree that stamps you in society, that is a choice you made at some point in life and so be it, but along with that is the skill set you bring along and hone. Knowledge is key. Lastly and this point I want you to think about strongly is – society may put each one of us in a box, stamp and label us but it is not up to society to value what you do. It is your responsibility to be valuable enough to be recognized for what you do. I hope that’s clear to you.”

This message is true for all of us. If you believe that your field’s income limit or the skills you bring along are only worth X amount. Than I am sorry to say that is how it is going to be for the next 45ish years in life until you retire. And because you believe this you will walk down the road of life and make it into a self-fulfilling prophecy that this is my earning potential. if I am at €25K today, than perhaps in 10 year I’ll be at €40K and so forth.

That is completely wrong! Take responsibility and stop assuming you are only worth X amount on the market because that is what a certain job level, the market in your field or area of work, your employer tells you. Create your own earning potential. To me, it’s limitless. My employer may be telling me today when I ask for a raise, look sorry we just do not have the budget. Well, if my contributions and skill set are worth X amount more than what I earn – it is my responsibility to make the change. Not sit back and wait for my manager to come by my desk one day and tell me look. I appreciate the hard work. You are getting a raise. I can wait 10 years for that to happen.

So do not be disconnected to your personal potential. It is a choice. It is a mindset. It may not happen over night, but that additional €1000, €10000 or even 7 digit earning income is only limited by your mindset and hustle. Be creative, stop making excuses and prove it to yourself that change, stepping out of the comfort zone will only make you a better person. You may be thinking – Hermann, nice, but what do I do? Here you go:

  1. Starting today – sit down, layout a plan that details step-by-step how you want your career path to look like and where you would like to be over the next 6 months, 12 months, 24 months and what you want to have achieved in 5 years from now. What will it take to get you there? What skills do you need to hone?
  2. Over the next few days – Do your homework. Based on the first point find the tools and resources that will help you get started in maximizing your earning potential.
  3. Reflect – Pick one day of the week, set aside a few minutes and reflect on your plan, mentally, visually, however you find best for yourself and work through your first two points. Are you doing what needs to be done. Are you consistent with what you laid out for your development? Do this weekly and you’ll be grateful for doing so!

I do it! So can you!

I know it’s hard, but give yourself a nudge and get started. Talk to someone you trust to hold you accountable, heck Ill even jump in if you reach out to me!

No more excuses. Get started now!

P.S. – Thank you (nameless) for the great talk! I’m glad it got you inspired and rest assured I will hold you accountable 😉

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