What are you really worth?

I can’t be alone in detesting those adverts that tell you you’re worth the pricey shampoo/hair colour/whatever – they make me want to shriek and hurl something at the screen.

It strikes me there’s a subtle message behind them that this is all we’re worth: paying a bit more for an everyday product to make ourselves feel a bit more valued – we should stop there and be content with a small return.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m as depressed by a bad hair day as the next woman but I can deal with it without paying over the odds and I know that there are many, many more important ways to evaluate my worth!

Were you brought up as I was by a mother who always put herself last? Were you indoctrinated by the situations and the people around you into believing that you are not the kind of person who takes (relatively) bold action or has the capabilities to achieve, for example, business success?

It probably wasn’t a deliberate attempt to squash you – more likely they were just unthinkingly passing on the attitudes they’d been brought up in themselves.

So what are you really worth? How do you judge it?

I have a friend who teaches an art class to a group of retirees and she’s been thinking about putting up her fee: she’s still pitching it pretty low, though, because “they’re pensioners”. Well, really, that’s their concern! It’s up to them how they spend their money and what proportion they spend on the class.

What she (and they) should really consider is what value the class is to them: there’s the sociable element, the keeping their minds active, the pleasure they get from producing their own work and the access to the wealth of talent and knowledge she brings. That’s a lot of value!

So try that point of view on yourself: what value do you bring to the people around you? In simple terms, how much would it cost them to replace you – if they could?!

And if it’s not something you can put a monetary value on, how difficult would it be for them to find the same thing elsewhere?

You can add value to somebody’s day by something as simple as smiling at them – just think how much everything else about you can contribute. That’s what you’re really worth!

How does your job score for the 5 Cs?

To get the most from your career – and, as it’s a major part of most of our lives, you really should aim to get as much as you can – there are 5 factors that you need to consider.


Does your current job make you feel that you’re adding something to your own and others’ well-being? Do you feel that you’re adding something to the general good?

It may be fairly obvious if you’re a brain surgeon or a charity worker but don’t underestimate the value you can add with any job.

Take something like hairdressing, for example. Few people have as immediate and profound an effect on their client’s sense of well-being: they can send someone out to face the world feeling great or feeling terrible.

As well as knowing for yourself that you’re making a contribution, it’s essential that that contribution is acknowledged.

Whatever form that takes, whether it’s a financial reward or an “Employee of the Month” trophy or a sincere “Well done!” from your boss (and, really, how hard can that be?), everyone is entitled to the respect of having their contribution valued.


This one’s about motivation: if you can’t believe in what you’re doing, how can you feel motivated to keep doing it?

If you can’t care about the product/service you’re part of providing, you’ll struggle to motivate yourself and work will simply be drudgery you have to slog through to collect the pay-cheque at the end of the month.

And it would have to be a pretty humungous one to make up for spending a large part of your life doing hard labour!


Do you sometimes (often?!) feel that you’re the only one in your group of colleagues who feels the way you do?

Can you align yourself with your employer’s mission and values statements – assuming they have them? And, if they do, how committed are they to abiding by them?

When you can’t feel the “fit” at work, having to compromise your own beliefs and values can take its toll on your nerves and your self-esteem.

Beware, too, of the sessions with colleagues where you gather with a cup of coffee to slate your boss/company/colleagues not actually present! It may be a short-term fix to make yourself feel a bit better but, long-term, it can seriously damage your emotional health.


You’re giving a large chunk of your adult life to your employers. If there’s no feeling of contributing and/or no recognition for your contribution, no belief that what you’re doing is of value and no sense of “fit” with your employers and/or colleagues, how can you feel any commitment to what you do?

And without commitment, how much of a success can you make of it?


One of the most dangerous things about being unhappy at work is how it saps your confidence, not just in your professional ability but in all areas of your life.

Our sense of ourselves, our identity is closely tied to what we do for a living and, if you feel that what you’re doing isn’t making the most of your time and talents, it can have a very negative effect on your self-esteem.

Once that starts to sink, you can so easily lose the will to find something better and the belief that you’re capable of doing so.

Before that happens, it’s time to take a good look at what you really want to do and how to achieve it. And if it’s already happened, it’s still not too late to get some help to move forward with your life – where could you be in 6 months’ time?

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