The biggest dilemma that many people face over their lives and careers is one that we have all thought about over time. “Should I pursue something that I love as a career, and hope that the money will follow, or should I suck it up and keep on working in an unsatisfying job, that pays me well with an element of job satisfaction?”
I believe that you should do neither, and here’s why. And let me tell you what you should do.
Don’t do what you love
There are many ‘career specialists’ and ‘hobby coaches’ who have talked about building a career around what you love, and have faith that the money will follow. For a very few people, this may be the case.Everybody loves to quote Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, Donald Trump, Brad Pitt and so on as people who have successfully pursued their passions and made great careers and built wealth as a result. I love acting, and I tried it as a part-time career for a while, but it was a fast track to poverty.
The reality is that the vast majority of us are not taught or have not developed the skills of persistence, entrepreneurship, business development, sales and marketing that are needed to successfully grow a rewarding and sustainable business, based on your passions.
I totally believe that doing what you love is freedom – is there a better way to spend your time? – but the bills have to be paid! The dilemma is how to develop a career and lifestyle that allows you to do what you love, while giving you economic freedom as well.
Don’t work at an unsatisfying job
Working in an unsatisfying job is another unfortunate consequence of bills having to be paid. I think that many people seek out careers and positions that reward them well financially, without giving thought to the emotional rewards and career satisfaction.
I have met many people over the years who feel they are in ‘dead-end’ jobs, feel unsatisfied in their careers, see no real career path forward and are also not well compensated for their efforts. And guess what – theytend to not be high-performers in their role.
Many years ago, after a significant life changing event, I took a “safe” jobat a high-tech company, known for its sales culture. I have always excelled in that environment, and I believed that this would be no different. However, the culture was a bad fit, I was totally dissatisfied with the position, and for once in my life, I performed poorly. It was 2 unhappy years before I saw the light, and moved on. If you don’t love what you do, it’s a quick road to low compensation, poor performance, and unhappiness
Identify a career direction, work on it, and deliberately choose to excel at it. When you excel at your work, people will notice you, you will start to climb the food chain in the business, you will be given broader career opportunities, and your income will rise. As you excel in your chosen career, you will also begin to love it more and more. Love for your career is then a consequence of excellence at meaningful work, instead of the motivation for it. You WILL be happy at your work.
BUT – results do not come by themselves. Opportunity often looks like hard work. You need to continually add to your skills and knowledge in your chosen career direction, as well as others. The job you will have in 20 years most likely has not been invented yet, so life-long education is key to future success and happiness.
Flexibility, adaptability and a positive attitude will get you a long way. Great employers hire for attitude, and then train for skills.
Loving what you do – and excelling at it – is the key to personal happiness and career growth. It also gives you the freedom to do what you love, propels you in the direction of higher income, and provides a platform for long-term career development and personal satisfaction. It will absolutely bring you freedom and happiness.