When talking about work yesterday, a friend said something like "It's all about the money, right?" Thinking about that last night, it quickly leads into a question of "What's important in your life?"
If it really is all about the money, then most forms of work are inappropriate, and what you need to do is focus on being a great financial manager (the next Warren Buffet), a great salesperson, or a business owner. After all, if money is really why you work, why work with technology? Unless you're seen as an industry superstar,that's a very indirect route to making barrels of money.
Following this exercise, if it's not really all about the money, then why do you work?
Why do you work?
For me, thinking about getting back to work in 2008, work for me is about the act of creation, i.e., creating something that didn't exist beforehand. Generally for me that means creating software, and doing the things I really enjoy in the software development process.
For me it also means working with other people. I've had most of this year to work on software by myself, and while I do like my time alone, I've learned that the act of creating software is generally a better thing when you do it with other people. Whether you agree with the others or not, I think you learn a lot in the process.
I suppose I should say something about a career path, and how that's also important, but I don't have any real words of wisdom there. If you want to be a developer, what exactly is your career path? You want to develop code, right? Only you really know what you want to add to that mix.
Throwing money in the mix
Finally, all those things being important, money is also important. I don't see a great deal of difference between making $80K and $90K per year, but when I learn that I can be making $120K or more doing essentially the same thing as I was at $80K (with the same cost of living), that's something I have to look into, right?
At some point, especially if you have a family, money is something you have to consider. A 50% salary jump arguably means retiring 50% earlier, and whatever "retirement" means to you, I think that's important.