February 26, 2020

Update re: But I like doing it!

Sent by Jonathan Stark on February 26th, 2020

The reaction to yesterday’s message (subject: “But I like doing it!”) generated an unusually polarized response.

One group resonated strongly with the idea:

The other group was like, “Wha…?”

When this sort of thing happens, it usually means that I’m operating on a set of assumptions or from a context that some people don’t share.

In this case, the unstated assumption of my initial message is that you’ve got plenty of work. When you have plenty of work, it makes a lot of sense to try to optimize things by doing less of the stuff you don’t like and more of the stuff you do like.

This tactic is counter-intuitive for people who think of the payments they receive from their clients as compensation for suffering rather than an equitable trade for value provided.

My original message was meant to point out that instead doing the stuff you don’t like, you could just stop doing it and start charging more for the stuff that you do like doing.

Which brings up my second unstated assumption:

That your clients value the stuff you like doing.

If you’re busy and getting paid anything for the stuff you like doing, it’s a reasonably safe bet that your clients value it. And it’s also a reasonably safe bet that you’re under-valuing it, and therefore could charge more for it.

IF on the other hand, you’re NOT booked solid AND are NOT currently getting paid for stuff you like doing, THEN the odds of you pivoting directly to highly paid engagements doing stuff you enjoy are not great. It’s not impossible, but it’ll probably take some non-trivial time and effort.