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Career Advice

Career Conundrum: Passion versus Money

Date Posted: Feb 20, 2015

One of the most common questions we have been asked when we were young is what we wanted to be when we grow up. That was an easy question back then, because we didn’t know what real life was all about. Now that you are at the crossroads of your life, you will go through the process of trying to find out which career path to take. In trying to find the best answer, most people will say that we should follow our passion in choosing a career, that doing what you love will not only give you happiness, but will also eventually give you financial success. Confucius said “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” 


But is that always possible?


As it turns out, not everyone agrees. Some experts claim that following your passion may not be the best way to go, mainly because it is usually unrealistic to do so. Many of our passions cannot be directly translated into careers. For instance, if you love watching movies, it might be difficult to find a career wherein you can just watch movies the whole day.


There is also the idea that when your passion becomes your profession, you lose enthusiasm for it when you are compelled to do it. Someone who loves to cook may lose his passion for it when he becomes a chef because now, he has no choice but to cook on the clock for, say, 100 people everyday.


But if you really think about it, passion and money are not mutually exclusive concepts in a career. You can find happiness in a career that you are passionate about even if that career is not your passion, and make a lot of money in the process. The trick is to find the proper balance between two, work and life, so that in the end, it doesn’t really make a difference if you followed your passion in your career. Here are some tips to help you to get there:


Make a list.   Make a list of the things you like to do. Try to identify which ones, if any, can possibly translate to a lucrative career. If none of them appear to be a winner, you can do the next best thing: make a list of things you do well. Ralph Wardo Emerson once observed that “each man has his own vocation; his talent is his call. There is one direction in which all space is open to him.” One can take this to mean that we are all destined for one career, and if we choose well, we can go as far as we want.


After making your list of what you are good at, take a close look at each item. In most cases it will give you a better perspective on what career path you will be more passionate in undertaking. Once you’ve decided on an item, become very good at it. This will help you have a good job that pays well so that you can afford to indulge in the things you life to do.


Make time.  Knowing what your personal and career choices are will give you discernment. It equips you to have a well-rounded approach to your life. More importantly, it will give you a direction of where and what you want to be. In order to do that, however, you need to make an effort to keep your personal life and work life in balance. This means making time for yourself and your family and not getting caught up in the rat race. It is very easy to forget that you work to live and not live to work, especially if you are in a demanding profession. Sports figure Brett Favre put it very well: "Sometimes you get caught up in what's going on around you. The reality is that you are just a regular person. At some point, the career will be over, the bright lights turn off. That can come back to haunt you if you're not just a regular guy."


Make a distinction.   Hilary Clinton once said “Don’t confuse having a career with having a life.” You should be able to separate your personal life from your professional life. When you are able to do that, you can indulge in your personal passions even as you pursue a career. Some people are lucky enough to have a career that is also their passion but for most people, what you do as a career will be different from what makes you happy in life, and that’s fine. Most people believe that a successful person “works hard and plays harder” and that is very true. But to be a happy, successful person, you have to make sure that you have a life to go back to when you get home from work. 

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