Take a Hike! 

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We’ve all grown up thinking it’s rude to ask people how much they earn. Ever wondered why?

The simple answer is that money is tied to your worth in society. So, by extension, it’s tied to your perception of self-worth. Meaning if you are a hotshot business person working for an MNC, then that’s the gold standard of self-worth. 

Come appraisal season, this societal expectation to earn more is what makes you have a serious coffee obsession.

So, how can you manage this stress? 

Appraisal Appraisal 

Financial security is important. No arguments there. But does more money really mean more happiness? 

Turns out Freddy Mercury was right when he sang ‘Money can’t buy happiness’. Various studies back the singer’s claim - confirming that your salary can only give you short-term job satisfaction.

What’s interesting is that even this short-term happiness is short-lived. 

There are a few studies that have tried to pinpoint the magic number when it comes to being happy with your salary. Once you breach the limit of this magic number, your satisfaction with your salary takes a nosedive. 

This phenomenon can be explained using a tendency called Hedonic adoption or Hedonic Treadmill.

The Problem of Excess 

The Hedonic Treadmill tendency says that you come back to a ‘set point’ of happiness after a spike of dopamine. 

This happens because as soon as you get your dopamine hit you crave more of it. Your desires increase in tandem with your achievements. 

In the case of appraisals, this would mean getting a hike of  ₹1 Lakh and then immediately craving a bigger hike of  ₹3 Lakhs. 

The problem with this tendency is that it triggers a constant hustle to align with society’s expectation of success and self-worth, regardless of your happiness. 

Coping with appraisal stress 

The first thing to work towards is determining your personal magic number. This would mean eliminating any societal biases that pop up in the process. It is the paycheck that you need for being  financially independent to have a standard of life you are comfortable with. 

This would essentially stop you from being a hamster chasing one hike after the other. More importantly, it would help you enjoy your achievements. 

What happens when you don’t get a hike?

Well, the upside of Hedonic Adoption is applicable to a negative experience as well. So when you don’t get a salary hike, there is a dip in happiness followed by a spike to your ‘set point’ of happiness again.

So the dip in happiness isn’t going to last long. 

Regardless, the fact is that the result of one appraisal doesn’t reflect what the 40 other appraisals of your life are going to look like. 

Blessed, Stressed and Improvement Obsessed

It’s hard not to get anxious during appraisal season. Everyone around you is anxious so you tend to absorb your environment. 

What helps in these instances is to refocus on long-term growth, not just during appraisal season but as a rule for any job you take up. 

Try to grow professionally by experimenting with your job or dabbling in different areas of work. Constantly try to gather more knowledge that can help you with your job and develop soft skills that’ll help you grow as a professional. 

All these are proven ways of increasing your job satisfaction in the longer run. 

So this appraisal season, come what may, crack up the volume on the Beetles song - Money can’t buy me love, and soldier on. 

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