Regardless of whether you are just starting out as a young adult, or you’re older and considering what you want for the rest of your life, you might be wondering should you do something you’re passionate about or something that earns you money? This is the age-old question and the answer isn’t an easy one.
Should You Do Something You’re Passionate About or Something That Earns You Money
This is a question I have personally struggled with my whole life.
I tend to get bored easily and I hate having someone tell me what to do.
That makes it difficult for me to have a regular job. Even so, I did work in international banking for a while.
I hated every minute of it and I resented anyone who didn’t have to go work at some big corporation.
I thought long and hard about it.
I could continue working at the big bank and make more money and climb the corporate ladder and have a “successful” life.
I’d have the money to travel, but I wouldn’t have the time.
On the other hand, I could ditch the good job and do what I want.
Of course, I would have the time to travel, but I wouldn’t have the money to do so.
It was really a catch 22.
Career and financial stability or passion, freedom, and being broke.
I picked the passion and upped and quit my day job without much concern as to how I would pay my bills.
I can’t say it was a wise decision, but I’ve lived with it ever since, and at times paid the price for it.
So, before you follow in my somewhat foolish footsteps, there are some pros and cons to following your passion that you should consider.
There is also a middle ground that might work out well for you.
The Pros and Cons Following Your Passion
Both following your passion and taking a job just for the money have pros and cons. Let’s take a look at the good and bad for a person that makes their passion a priority.
1. You’ll Enjoy Your Day
Chances are if you are doing something you truly love you will enjoy your job.
Whether that is working for yourself and making art, or working for someone else and writing or anything in between, you won’t dread getting up in the morning.
Personally, I find this to be a major advantage to following a real passion.
2. No Sunday Blues
If you’re not doing something you enjoy, then I’m sure you’re in the hating Sunday night club.
When I was a kid, I hated Sunday nights because I knew I’d have to go to bed early and then go to school in the morning.
Once I was older, it was the same but maybe even worse.
I’m not a morning person, so getting up early is difficult for me.
When I worked for the bank, I had to be up early, and Sunday night meant the weekend was over and I was faced with getting up and going to work in the morning.
I’d usually start dreading it by about 3:00 pm every Sunday.
Maybe you can relate.
But, if you are doing something you love, then chances are you can’t wait to get started in the morning.
This is especially true if you work for yourself.
3. You’ll Be More Energized
I don’t have one specific passion, but there are many things I am passionate about.
They change over time, but when I have one of them in front of me, I can’t wait to get started.
The same is true for you, I’m sure.
You feel energized and just itching to get started.
That’s a great feeling.
No dread of the next day or next morning in sight.
4. You Might Not Make Enough to Pay Your Bills
Not everything is great about doing what you love.
The truth is a lot of the things people are passionate about don’t pay much money.
Are you a painter? A writer? Maybe you enjoy making things out of wood or metal or what have you.
You love what you’re doing, but you find it difficult to pay the bills.
Financial struggles could be the norm for you and that creates its own kind of stress.
When considering passion Vs. practicality, this is one of the most important considerations.
Chances are, you will need to work some kind of job to help pay the bills. Which kind of defeats the whole purpose of doing what you love.
5. Travel Might be Out of The Question
I’m throwing this one in here because I love to travel.
But, if you’ve done much traveling you know just how expensive it can be.
If you don’t have a steady job and a well-paying job, then it will be really difficult to get the money together to go on a vacation.
6. You May Not Have Any Benefits
Health insurance is a real issue for a lot of people.
If your health isn’t great, and even if it is, life can be difficult without health insurance.
Even if you don’t get sick, you could be in an accident and end up in the hospital.
There is a good chance that you won’t have any benefits following your passion especially if you are working for yourself.
If you take on a part-time job to help pay the bills you won’t get benefits there as well.
I lived for years without health insurance of any kind.
I was lucky that I never got sick and never had to go to the hospital for any reason.
Things could have turned out much worse for me if I had.
So, if you have health issues, or kids, following your passion and forfeiting a good job with good benefits might be a bad choice for you.
7. If You Don’t Follow Your Passions Now You Never Will
I went back to college as an adult.
In one of my classes, there was this young woman named Lori.
She was going to college to get a degree in management.
She told me that what she really wanted to do was be an archaeologist.
I asked why the heck she was going to school for management then.
She said her parents were paying for college and they wanted her to get a degree in something useful, something that would her a career and a “real” job.
I thought it was setting her up for a life of misery, but it was really none of my business.
Lori told me that one day when she was older she would go back to school for archaeology.
I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it would never happen.
Chances are she would end up meeting someone, get married, have kids, and buy a house.
By then she would have too many adult responsibilities and she would never have the time or the money to follow her passion.
The Pros and Cons of Taking a Job You Don’t Like that Pays Well
Let’s take a look at the other side. Having that good-paying, stable job that everyone tells you that you must have.
1. You Can Climb the Career Ladder
Traditional career paths tend to lead to advancement, more money, and maybe even a corner office.
Career growth isn’t a bad thing and it is what many people look for.
Granted, your job might not be your passion, but depending on which of the career paths you decide to follow, you could reach the top of your field.
2. You’ll Make More Money
The more skills you learn the more money you will make.
More importantly, you have a better chance of having financial security.
That is worth a lot.
Okay, so what are some of the downsides of the “ideal career?
3. You’ll Be Miserable 5 Days a Week
Maybe one of the worst is you will be miserable. Five days out of the week, you will hate what you are doing.
That’s just terrible.
It is a slow death.
In my humble opinion, life is too short to live it this way, but I do understand why many people do.
4. You’ll Have the Sunday Blues
Not only will you be miserable five days a week, but chances are also you will be miserable Sunday night as well knowing you have to go to a job you don’t like.
That means for five and a half to six days a week you won’t be happy.
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5.You’ll Hit Middle Age and Have Regrets
Everyone talks about people having a mid-life crisis.
I’m certainly no shrink, but I think a lot of that comes from the fact that you get to your 40’s and realize you have spent 20 years of your adult life doing something you don’t enjoy.
So, you look for something to make you happier.
For some, they get divorced or have an affair. For others, they buy a fancy sports car.
You don’t want to get to mid-life and realize you’ve made a horrible mistake not following your passion, and like my schoolmate Lori, realize it is too late to do anything about it.
Taking the Middle Ground
Everyone’s situation is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to following your passion or taking a job for the money.
Perhaps the best thing you can do is find the middle ground.
There are career opportunities that give you more flexibility in your work schedule.
Teaching is one of these. You do have summers off.
But, perhaps you can look for a career that gives you some financial stability and benefits while at the same time is flexible enough that you can work – hard – on your passion.
In time, you may end up turning your passion into your job, and isn’t that the goal in the first place?
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To Sum it All Up:
Following your passion or getting a job to pay the bills is never an easy choice. Job satisfaction is important but so is having an income you can live on. Do some real soul searching and look at your personal situation honestly before you decide what is right for you.