You Know Your Rates Are Too Low When You Resent What You Do

If there’s any belief I find problematic, it’s the idea that you should expect to ‘pay your dues.’

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What this typically means is you should do shit work for shit pay and be happy for the opportunity, dammit, and then magically one day people will decide to pay you what you’re worth. Ahahahaha.

Now, I’m not suggesting you should expect top dollar and immediate success. But I also don’t think that refusing to work for cut rate is the entitlement issue that people seem to think.

Now, pricing strategy is an art in and of itself, but I just want to mention one thing in particular I think you should take into account: Your resentment rate.

The Resentment Rate

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The resentment rate is the rate of pay at which point you start to feel incredible resentment vis a vis how much work you do for the money.

That’s the basics. It’s a bit more complex, though. For instance, my resentment rate goes higher for clients who are unreliable. On the other hand, I have been known to cut my rate extensively to cut a person I believe in a break. There are some things I sincerely don’t like doing, but, hypothetically, if you paid me three times my rate I might be convinced. But what I’m getting at is that the resentment rate isn’t just the money; it’s also what you’re doing and how you’re appreciated.

If you have no idea what your resentment rate is, you’ll have to take some time to figure it out. When was the last time you were resentful doing something for someone else? What were the circumstances? How were you treated? Did you enjoy the work?

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The resentment rate is only a rule of thumb. That doesn’t mean that if you figure out your resentment rate is $25/hr, and someone offers you $30 to dig ditches you would necessarily take it. You went into business for yourself as a way to be more fulfilled, however you define that. Chasing the almighty dollar probably doesn’t fit that bill. If it did, I would still be hauling hoses on a well-site somewhere.

Whatever You Do…

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If there’s one thing I sincerely hope you take away here, it’s that you realize your resentment rate and never, ever cross it. Crossing it poisons almost every aspect of your life; you’ll carry that frustrated, trapped and resentful feeling home with you, and it will make everything seem more hopeless than before.

I’ve been in pretty dire financial straits in my time, but crossing the resentment rate never worked out for me. It never led to advancement or opportunity. It didn’t even stimulate me to find something better; I was too angry and demoralized to do so. It made my life miserable, and I stayed broke.

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What’s your experience with feeling resentful? How does it affect you, and how do you deal with it?


7 thoughts on “You Know Your Rates Are Too Low When You Resent What You Do”

  1. I can’t say I ever thought about my resentment rate until today. What an awesome way to frame the “it’s just not worth it” feeling so many of us have!
    I think the closest I ever came to defining something like a resentment rate is my “Seriously? I need to do task X or interact with person Y again?!” rate. Sometimes I asked myself to answer this question but most of the time my former employer forced it upon me. Eventually, there were a couple of tasks normally expected of someone in my role that I flat out refused to do. If they were going to fire me over it, so be it (they never did fortunately).
    The harder part was not crossing the threshold of working with person Y after horrible experiences with them. Working in a company of two or more people means having to do business with folks you just…can’t…stand.
    Now, I’m a business of one. And I get to hand pick the people I do business with and associate with. It’s one of the best and most underrated parts of becoming an entrepreneur. Perhaps this decreases the chance I’ll ever have to define my resentment rate?

    1.  @joeyjoejoe I honestly hadn’t even thought about employment. Even when there was stuff I didn’t want to do, I found that if I volunteered for the stuff I liked than I’d be too busy to do the shitty stuff.
      I purposefully meant entrepreneurs and the self-employed. Because too often they’ll get into the mindset of “anything for a buck” or “I’m so lucky to work for myself it would be ungrateful to just decide I’m too good for things”. You don’t have problems with this yourself?

      1.  @Shanna MannThanks for setting me straight. No, I don’t have problems with this…yet. I’m super fortunate to have built a nice financial cushion to fall back on as I humbly make zero dollars for a little while longer. That decade in corporate America treated me well and I have a sugar mama to boot.
        I don’t mention this to brag but rather to give you the context for why I haven’t had to do anything for a buck.

  2. I can probably list every single time I crossed my resentment rate and know all the damage it did, first to me, then to my family, then to my other clients.
    I have a firm rule that I don’t work with people I don’t want to work with. No amount of money will change that.
    But there are people I like who need work I’m not thrilled about. Resentment rate must be acknowledged or I damage that friendship by pretending to do them a favor.
    My biggest weapon has been to ponder what I’ll do free. I’m trying to create a 2-price system: free, or full boat. When it’s full boat, I still apply all the rules: no jerks, no un-fun work.
    When it’s free, I take all kinds of liberties. I tell people what to do, but not necessarily how to do it. Or I tell them how but I don’t do it for them. I take a little longer to respond, sometimes long enough that they say oh, I got it, never mind.
    And I tell them right out that this isn’t work I normally do so I don’t want to be responsible for delivering full-boat-paid-quality service, but if they’ll settle for whatever I feel like at the moment, they can have my free service.
    It has always turned into an split, two reactions: half of them go away and the other half work with me, express appreciation, apologize for interrupting, and even, in some cases, turn into full-boat clients.
    It still takes management to avoid resentment, but it’s amazing the difference of obligation sense between “free” and “any other price.”

  3. A recent job was like this for me. Appreciation is huge for me. I didn’t love what I was doing, I wasn’t making much at all, but if the appreciation factor had been there, it would have been a much better place for me. I’m definitely not 100% clear on my resentment rate, but I know when I’ve crossed it, which has started me thinking about where that is for me. Having a name for it is great, it makes it more concrete!

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