I was recently asked by a young professional, “Time is our most valued resource...Would you sacrifice work location for a more challenging position/higher salary, or would you stay working closer to home in a comfortable position that's neither bad or great?”
First, I’m probably the wrong person to answer this question objectively. I earned four degrees by the time I was 26, academic Dean at 32, and Vice President with a PhD and three published books by the time I was 39. Frankly, I have found that work-life balance is often an illusion...at least it is if you want to crush it. I believe if it is worth doing, it is worth being among the best. Complacency is not an option. Achieving the bare minimum is definitely not enough.
Instead, you must evaluate the opportunity cost and make choices. While under 40 years old (and/or before kids) I would definitely choose challenge, salary, opportunity, the commute, hustle, and making a significant impact over a comfortable position or close location. I commuted over an hour each way for a professional opportunity to grow for 5 years. Over 40 years old (and/or with a family) is a different story. But, for most young professionals, this is the time for you to rise and grind. Learn actively, read everything you can, grow, volunteer with a professional association, contribute, travel, take on the extra project, launch a side hustle, present at conferences, write - then publish, recruit multiple mentors, be seen as a force. Embrace & utilize the longer commute to make calls, listen to audio books, reflect, practice speeches, or recharge.
If you want to make a significant impact, choosing to simply meet expectations is not an option. Strive to exceed them consistently.
"Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure." – Thomas Edison