Love or Money – Which Do You Work For?

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in Career

Is it better to work for money or for love of craft? There was a time when I believed it was perfectly noble to pursue a career mainly for money, but life’s experience has changed that belief. Anything you’ll put in as much time as you will a career needs to be spent doing something you feel good about. After all, life is what we do and not just who we are or what we have.

One of the sad things about college is that so many students chose a major based primarily on the income potential of the career field it prepares you for. Income potential is important, don’t get me wrong, but if money is the main purpose in deciding your life’s work, will it be enough to sustain a career that needs to last a lifetime? Is it any wonder that so many people are unhappy in their careers or find themselves searching for a way out after they’ve already invested years of their lives?

Why is it so important to love your work?

You’re career will need to keep you engaged for most of your life. One of the considerations that’s almost beyond comprehension early in life when career decisions are typically made it how much time you’ll be working in that field. A career entered in your early 20s can cover four or five decades, or most of your working life.

It’s not possible to project how you’ll feel about your work in ten or twenty years, let alone forty or fifty. But if you don’t feel particularly passionate about the career you’re entering or studying for, it’s a solid bet you won’t feel better about it as the years pass. Forty or fifty years is longer than an eternity if you don’t like what you do for a living.

The years have a way of slipping by—quickly. There’s often a tendency to bargain with life by thinking “This career pays well, I’ll just stay in it until I have enough money saved up that I can do what I want, then I’ll pursue my passions”.

The reality is that you’ll get comfortable with a certain income and the lifestyle and future it affords you. The years will pass, slowly at first, but more quickly with time. Before you know it, so many years will pass until you’ll be resigning yourself to the rut you’ve dug yourself into and the dreams will fade into the oblivion of the reality you’ve built for yourself.

Working at something you don’t really like causes stress. Anytime we put a lot of time in at something we don’t like there’s stress. If your livelihood depends on the thing you don’t like, the stress will be even greater. Apart from the health risks of stress, it also leads to mental confusion. The more stressed you are, the less able you’ll be to see clearly through your circumstances to make necessary changes and improvements.

It’s not that easy to change careers. Once you’ve put a lot of years into a single career, making the jump into another is harder than you might imagine, especially if it’s a radical change. When all of your training, experience and contacts are in one field, you’ll have little to offer an employer or potential client in another. If you’ve ever tried to change careers through a recruiting firm you’ll know exactly what I mean. They’ll keep pointing you back to your current field because that’s where your career assets are.

You may need to work well into your retirement years. This is a factor that’s often dismissed, but with the disappearance of traditional pensions and concerns about the future of Social Security it should never be ignored. Depending on how much you’ve accumulated in your retirement plans as well as the future cost of living, you may need to work well past retirement age.

The only thing I can think of that’s worse than working your entire life in a career you don’t like is working at it into what should be your retirement years. My guess is that this will be the reality for millions of people so it needs to be considered in your choice of career at any stage of life.

There may be a way to do what you love even if you’re entrenched in a career you don’t like

Wouldn’t it be great to just up and leave your hum-drum career and jump into an exciting journey into the work of your dreams? Of course it would, but this is the real world and you have bills to pay, a retirement to fund and maybe a family to support. Let’s face it, making a wholesale change can so disrupt your life that the cost of doing so can easily outweigh the benefits of the change.

But you don’t have to make so radical a change. If you have a passion for a certain career, business or line of work, enter it as a side venture while keeping your current occupation intact. By beginning your new career as a side venture you can accomplish the following:

  • You can move into the field at your own pace, gradually at first, then picking up speed as you go
  • Not only will you gain experience, but equally important are the contacts you’ll develop in the process–no one enters a new career or business without them!
  • You can earn a second income that can be saved as a reserve for the day when you take that leap of faith into full time
  • If you’ll be self-employed, you’ll have an opportunity to build a list of referrals and a book of business that can reap rewards for the rest of your business life
  • By keeping your primary income flowing, you’ll virtually eliminate the risk that comes with any new venture
  • By pursuing work you feel good about, your regular job will become temporary, and may also become more tolerable

Do you have a career that you feel so passionate about that you’d like to jump in right now and get started? Then what are you waiting for—your side venture awaits you!

Is there a career, business or line of work that you’re just itching to get into, but feel like you can’t because you’re too dependent on your current job?

Kevin At Out of Your RutThis post is from FiscalGeek staff writer: Kevin Mercadante. I’m very excited to have him contributing to the site. You can find out more about him at his own blog OutOfYourRut.com.

(Photo credit: R Stanek)

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff 2010/08/31 at 1:11 pm

I’m in the process of finding a career I can love right now. My husband is finally stable and my job is slowly becoming unbearable. I love blogging but it won’t make enough for a while, so I’m trying to find a job that will make me happy for the 25-30 years we have until early retirement (and maybe into that as well).

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Moneyedup 2010/09/04 at 9:39 am

As you choose a career, you have to think about how what you choose you will be doing for the next 25-30 years. You might as well enjoy it. I think it is important to love what you do because you will be more likely to put your best effort forth in your job and it will be less stressful.

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