The Forbes 400 Richest List is always a fun read. (I particularly like the story of the new additions to the list.) From a career perspective, the diversity of the journeys and of the backgrounds of the people who made the list offers ideas and inspiration. But it’s also important to remember that the measure of the Forbes list is based on money – assets, income, equity. For our own careers, we can choose our own measure of what makes us rich.
Entirely separate from money is how you feel about your career. Do you like your job? What is your measure for fulfillment – e.g., purpose, fun, excitement, variety? How important to you is your environment – space, lighting, colleagues, your boss? How important to you is the pace – speed of change in the company or industry, variety day-to-day, career growth prospects?
You may feel great about your job when you’re there, but how do you feel about it in the context of the rest of your life? Is it too consuming? Do you have time for relationships, self-care, and outside interests? Do you find yourself wanting more time away from the job? The only work/life balance scale that matters is your own – are you meeting your professional and personal obligations in a way that is sustainable and enjoyable?
You may decide that your metric matches the Forbes definition of rich. Perhaps, you’re good with a high-paying job that supports your psychic fulfillment elsewhere. Perhaps, your cash compensation supports your dream lifestyle. In this case, remember to review all components of your cash compensation – salary, bonus potential, timing of bonus, criteria of bonus, equity or options, growth potential, benefits. Remember to mark yourself to the external market, especially if you’ve been at the same company for a while. Remember to view your salary and salary prospects in light of the tight and volatile job market and to weigh the risk and reward of moving elsewhere accordingly.
You have options on how you measure riches, and this impacts how you manage your career. It could be that your definition of career success is more than money. In this case, you want to be specific about what to prioritize and how you measure. But even if money is a primary driver, you need to be specific on how you evaluate cash compensation. Then, proactively negotiate and structure your career according to what matters to you.
This post originally appears in my Work In Progress blog for Forbes.com.