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Following the Money v Following Your Passion

24 January 2016 No Comment

canstockphoto0596586Many of us grow up with a dream of the job we want when we’re older and succeed in following it through – going to university and/or undertaking relevant training with a specific career in mind. This isn’t, though, how it turns out for everyone.

For various reasons, including the need for financial independence, many take up a job just to make ends meet.  They view employment as a means to an end to pay the bills, support their family and maintain a certain lifestyle. This can, however, lead to entrapment and fear of changing the status quo.

Sometimes, people progress with a certain employer and end up, by default, high up in the organizational structure with a large salary. This could be a job, however, that’s cherished or one that’s loathed.

Everyone’s different, in that some seek stability and hate change while others thrive on frequent job turnover. Of course, the monthly salary is always important because the job we do has to match our lifestyle needs. Problems arise when we’re discontent with the job we’re doing because it doesn’t satisfy or challenge us anymore. Going to work becomes a chore and we dream of being paid to do something we love.

Those who manage to get their dream job that’s also well paid are very lucky. There are many people in careers that pay well but aren’t enjoyable. By contrast, we often hear of the struggling self-employed writer or artist who is a slave to their passion to work at something they truly love and who adjust their lifestyle accordingly. This can mean living in a studio flat, or even back with their parents to help make ends meet.

Unfortunately, there’s almost always a tradeoff between being happy in one’s career and making more money. It could be that you’re not doing something you like purely because it pays well. You may be in a career you enjoy but which doesn’t pay well, at least in the initial stages. The key is finding the balance and discerning which is more important to you – the money or the job satisfaction.

Of course, it’s easy to end up enjoying a job you wouldn’t expect to. It could be that you end up working with some great people who make every day enjoyable. Other important factors that influence job satisfaction, aside from the nature of the work, are good working conditions and being employed by a good employer, enjoying such perks as paid holidays, sickness and maternity pay, flexible hours and full/part time opportunities. Some people will hold on to a job they only feel so-so about in order to retain these extra benefits.

Everyone’s unique and has different preferences, priorities and tolerance levels when it comes to job satisfaction. A good question to ask ourselves is, when our time comes to depart this world, are we going to wish that we’d worked more or worked less? Did we follow our dream and take the many risks that go with that or stay in a steady job that paid well as a means to an end? These are the hard questions we have to ask ourselves when thinking about changing jobs/careers at any stage in life.

Switching careers completely is often a far easier decision for a single 20-something than it would be for someone in their 40’s with a family to support. That being said, there’s usually not an ideal time to do it – all the usual risks apply no matter your situation. If there’s something you truly want to pursue, there’s no time like the present!

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