Don’t settle – the hardest idea you’ll ever face
Don’t settle… for a job you don’t want.
Don’t settle… for half the rate you charge.
Don’t settle… for an unfair wage.
Don’t settle… for work from a client who abuses you.
Don’t settle… for cancelling your plans and personal life because a boss who doesn’t care said so.
I could go on all day, but I’m sure you get the idea. I know what you’re thinking – “easy for HIM to say.” Yes, it is easy for me to say. And Yes, it’ll be hard for you to do. Just like it was hard for me.
No, you don’t understand. I NEED to make some money, so I have no choice.
No, you don’t understand. If I don’t take this job, someone else will, then I’ll have nothing.
No, you don’t understand. What if I can’t find any jobs anywhere. Then what?
No, you don’t understand. They refuse to pay me more than $100, but if I say no, they’ll never call me again.
No, you don’t understand. They said if I take this job at this low wage, it’ll look really good on my resume.
Every one of those excuses is based on real, legitimate concerns. But, here’s the reality:
IF you give in, that’s where you’ll stay. If you take the job you don’t want, you’ll be known as the person who does THAT job. If you take the project at half your rate, then THAT will be known as your “new” rate. If you say “okay” when your boss says “I need you to be here this weekend”, then you’ll be known as the person who comes in on the weekends. If you say yes to the abusive client, then you’ll be the one they call to abuse.
This isn’t advice, or my opinion. This is fact. This is how it works. There’s no, “Oh, but this situation will be different” or any ultimate good that will come from being someone else’s punching bag. It is, rather, about you agreeing to bend over, and take it.
It’s fine to take a job for a low wage because you really want to work on their clients, or with their team. Totally valid. It’s okay to take a project at half your rate or less, because you believe in it, and want that work in your book. We’ve all done it. It’s completely normal to work the weekends or evenings, and even cancel plans, because you made the decision to do so – maybe you’re pumped about an idea you want to explore, and the off-hours are your only shot. I’ve done that many times. For that matter, you can take a project from an abusive client, for half upfront, the rest on delivery and at a premium rate. Let them go elsewhere if they don’t like it.
Do you risk loosing a job, a project or money by standing up for yourself? Yes.
Do you risk being out of work for a long time, potentially? Yes.
Do you risk not being able to make a rent payment or your phone bill? Yes.
Can these things really happen, and have they happened to me? Yes.
Am I still here, and is everything okay? Yes.
There’s a philosophical idea that states, “You instruct others how to treat you.” I know that to be true, from experience. If you can imagine the type of job or career (creative or otherwise) that you want, then you can work towards it. When you settle for something else, you work away from it. In addition to all your skills – creativity, design, composition, colour balance, symmetry, typography, illustration, writing, whatever – the best skill you can have, is the ability to walk away. Shaking, trembling with fear and doubt, certain you’ve signed your own certificate of doom, but still able to walk away. Don’t be known for doing the exact opposite of the things you want to do. That train is heading in the wrong direction. Buy a ticket to a better destination. It’s not easy, but you can do it.