Tired of senior living’s relatively low pay and meager raises?

You’re not alone. Many executives, support staff and others in between are similarly haunted.

But there’s no need to remain tense and morose about it. Turns out there is a better way to climb your way to the top. (Spoiler alert: It involves climbing your way to the top.) And it can be done in as little as three simple (but far from easy) steps.

The answers, my friends may not be blowing in the wind. But they are in plain view. That is, assuming you can get your hands on Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal.

That’s where the nation’s leading business news outlet released 2020 pay totals for chief executives at America’s top companies.

And I must say, the numbers here are mighty impressive. Especially for a year in which so many parts of the overall economy struggled. It turns out most bosses at top firms received raises around 5%. They also carted home more than $13 million in median pay, on average.

Leading the parade was Chad Richison, who founded Paycom Software. Richison pocketed more than $200 million. To be sure, he was an outlier. Still, seven executives saw their compensation top $50 million. A year prior, the $50 million club had only two members. Say what you will about the pandemic, it wasn’t so terrible if you were in the right place.

So if you want to escape the senior living pay doldrums, the obvious first step is to become CEO at a top S&P 500 company.

As for step two? Make sure most of the compensation is in the form of stock and/or stock options. That seems to be the proverbial coin of the realm these days, at least among the working deca-millionaire crowd. Besides the in-built tax advantages, it’s the kind of compensation that absolutely can explode down the road.

By the way, if you are wondering who was the lowest-paid executive on the list: It’s none other than Tesla’s Elon Musk. He reported zero pay for 2020. But don’t feel too bad for the poor fellow. He did rake in $32 billion in stock options as part of his 2018 pay package. Plus he also happens to have a net worth north of $150 billion. So there’s that.

Which brings us to step 3: If it all possible, try to be a woman.

Yes, believe it or not, women CEOs actually out-earned their male counterparts last year. Admittedly, the victory was razor thin — $13.6 million to $13.4 million. Still, it’s a far sight better than what women typically earn when compared with men. That would be 82%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Admittedly, this strategy might be a bit like Steve Martin’s suggestion for getting a million dollars (“First, get a million dollars …”). Becoming a CEO is not something most people simply wake up and decide to do on a whim.

Besides, maybe that goal isn’t such a great idea, after all. As a class, they don’t seem to exactly exude loving kindness. If anything, most appear to be in a state of semi-misery. Chronic stress will do that. Truth be told, maybe it’s not such nice work if you can get it.

Let’s just hope all those extra millions of dollars make the agony a bit more bearable.