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I was reading yet another post about passions and fun vs finances and work (actual title of the post: Your Passions vs Your Finances):
Should your choice of career be made with money in mind, or should it be made with your passions in mind? The eternal question.
Bonaparte, the blog's author, focuses on money in this post, stating that $$$ is the tool to freedom, and that having money is necessary to pursue your dreams. Passions, on the other hand, cannot always be trusted to create a sufficient income. Bonaparte is right on those grounds. Solely pursuing your passions could very well leave you broke - and frustrated.
But going for the money is a trap: focusing on your earnings and on your future projects (which will come true ONCE you have the money) has a way of making TODAY less important, turning it into a means rather than an end, a stepping stone to tomorrow, or more likely a stepping stone to "sometime in the remote future". That's risky. Being miserable today in order to enjoy life later is a sacrifice I, personally, am not willing to make. Working hard now in order to have fun later, yes, of course. I doubt anybody has ever fulfilled their dreams and felt great about themselves vegging out 24/7. We need goals, and we need to put in the effort.
But to what extent?
I would rather do a job I really like, because, as Confucius said:
Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
How do I know the sacrifice is not always worth it? I know because I've been there. I've been in the situation where I worked too much, made good money, but did not see the days pass, and did not really enjoy myself "here and now". Financial freedom I had. Time to savour life? Not so much. The days would go by and they either had no flavor or left me intensely stressed. I don't think I was pleasant to be around, either.
Interestingly, I've also been in the opposite situation: with lots of time on my hands, but little money to call mine. I was free of obligations and duties, but I couldn't do anything that has a monetary cost, which I found limiting... and frustrating at times.
When I had my daughters, I stayed home for a while, was happy and stimulated, and never even thought of money. But as they grew and needed me less, I knew I had to go get the stimulation I needed... in a job of some sort.
I have been making gradual changes as time passes. I have experienced excess in both directions. With time and many adjustments as the demands from my family decreased and my need for external stimulation increased, I eventually found a recipe that works for me.
First, I had to realize that there is an optimal number of hours one should work every week. Working less than that "magic number" of hours can leave one understimulated and underpaid. Working more than that magic number can leave one very stressed (albeit richer).
Have you figured out your optimal workweek hours number?
Second, I have come to understand that the specific task you busy yourself with carries as much weight in the equation as the number of hours you work. Different jobs come with different benefits... and hassles. If you find yourself constantly looking at the clock, it doesn't matter how many hours you work: you obviously don't enjoy what you do.
A personal example:
In my case, based on my education, credentials and experience, the most lucrative job I can do is translation. Indeed, some translators do pretty good. There's only one problem: I like translation. I actually like it a lot. But I don't love it. I don't wake up all excited: "Yay, I'm translating today!" I'm always happy to do it. I like playing with words. I like to come up with the most accurate terminology and sentence structure I can possibly find. I like the quiet. Plus, I've recently read that translating is one of the least stressful job for the money. And working from home is definitely a huge luxury.
But when I translate, profound enthusiasm is not always present.
On the other hand, there is a job that I can do that does provides great enthusiasm: teaching. I've taught French (on and off) for years, and before that, I taught swimming technique and trained future swimming instructors. From all those years I have realized that teaching is in my blood. It's a second nature. A pure joy. Probably inherited, too, since so many family members have taught at some point in their life (or their whole life).
Don't tell my boss, but I enjoy teaching so much, sometimes I think I could almost do it for free. I don't know why I like teaching so much. Connecting with the students, seeing them make progress, but also planning lessons and grading papers/tests/exercise sheets... I love it all!
Now teaching doesn't pay as much as translation. If you calculate the hourly income, taking into consideration all the time actually spent, the difference is quite significant. But what I don't get in the way of dollars when I teach, I get in in the way of utter enjoyment.
The perfect recipe I have come up with is to translate part-time and teach part-time. This way I get the best of both worlds. Plus, I love the variety. Translating full-time would exhaust me (it's a very demanding job in terms of focus and concentration, a challenge for the ADD in me). And I would feel lonely. But teaching full-time is no small feat either, as any teacher will tell you! Doing a little bit of both keeps me balanced and happy.
Two different sides of your job, or your job and an important hobby, could also play complementary roles in your life.
How do you balance it all out? Please share your insight and experience!
In any case, I really, really hope that as many of us as possible, when picking their job, choose something that they have not only a passion but also a talent for (and yes, we ALL have a talent of some sort). When you do what you love and are good at, not only are you happy, but you share with the world what's most precious about you: your personal, unique gift.
If you missed my previous post (on time, sleep and fitness training), please go take a look!