How would you feel if you lost $500,000? $500,000 can buy a lot.

Visualize what $500,000 could mean for you. One half million dollars is more than enough to buy a house. It’s a nice chunk of change to squirrel away in a retirement account that will yield you even more money. $500,000 can mean financial independence and security.

I am asking you how you feel about losing this amount of money because women walk away from the potential of earning $500,000 over the course of their lifetime by their failure to negotiate better salaries.

In her latest book, No Excuses, and during her interview on Head over Heels this week, Gloria Feldt discussed the consequences of women being poor negotiators. She quantified the amount of potential income we lose ($500,000) as a result of not being skillful in negotiating for ourselves.

When we begin our careers, if we don’t negotiate a good starting salary, the impact is substantial over time. The salary of our first position is an important first step that is often the basis of future compensation. The reality is that it is more difficult later in your career to make up for the lower initial salary.

What can we do with this information?

First of all, just knowing the consequences of our poor negotiation skills is powerful. It’s one thing to read statistics that say that female managers earn 81 cents to the dollar of their male counterparts, and quite another to understand the long range consequences. So thank you, Gloria!

How can we learn to negotiate better for ourselves?

How can we change our mindset to step into our power; to have the confidence to stand up for ourselves?

One method Gloria suggests in her book is to remind ourselves that a better income is not just for ourselves, but for our family as well. She suggests that women will better align themselves to this purpose and, therefore, feel more comfortable and determined to ask for more money. She tells the story of how she was guilty of this herself, and during her own career, she graciously accepted whatever salary was offered with the position. She did learn, however, that men had applied for the same job, were offered more money, and still turned down the job as not having adequate compensation. It never dawned on her to ask for more money at the time.

I think it really boils down to having the confidence in the value you bring to the organization. Staying connected to your values and talent is the key.

What are your strengths?

What have been your accomplishments?

Journalling all your successes and periodically reviewing your entries can help build your confidence. Write down what these successes say about you. Use these statements as your personal affirmations.

Use your success journal documentation as the basis for your performance review, requests for promotion, as well as salary reviews and job interviews.

Use your personal affirmations to fuel your passion, energy, and courage to step up and negotiate the best possible salary. The consequences of not doing this…a potential $500,000 mistake!