Recently receiving a nice raise got me thinking about the relationship between work and financial compensation.
Some people claim that high salaries encourage hard work. Maybe it does for some people, but it doesn't work that way for me. My work ethic has little to do with how much I am being paid, or how high my taxes are. I've always felt that if one has accepted a job, one does it as well as possible. I expect to be paid well because I do a good job; I don't do a good job because I want a raise. If I'm not being paid enough, I may quit, but I won't slack off.
I know people who obsess over exactly what percentage their raise was, and how that compares to others' raises.
During the 90's, I was getting raises of 20%, 25%, or more per year for a while. Those raises were so ridiculously high that I will probably never be able see any raise as being indicative of my abilities; they are more a reflection of how well my employer is doing, and how much clout my manager has.
I have never chased after maximizing my income, but have been fortunate to receive nice salaries. Making lots of money has provided a counter to Imposter Syndrome. My work must be providing some sort of value, although I've never figured out exactly what it is. So for me, salary is symbolic of approval and respect.
As long as I'm being paid "enough", I don't worry too much about salary. I just want to feel that I am being paid what I am worth, and right now, I think I'm being paid a lot more than I'm worth. (But please don't tell my boss.)