Apparently, this week I’m in the mood for contentious titles. A lot has been written on the idea “do what you love, and the money will follow.” It’d be nice, it’d be great, but doing what you love doesn’t mean that you’ll be rich or anywhere near rich.
For example, my career plan is to be a librarian. Even if I specialize in cutting-edge information science, my career choice is not one that leads most people to be rich. Micah teaches philosophy. Unless his work becomes extremely popular or he lands a job at a high-paying school, he’s not going to make a bundle. As a rule, philosophers don’t.
The good news: you don’t have to be rich. I’m not going to change my career plan, even though I know that by acquiring a few more skill sets (which I plan to acquire anyway), I could probably earn a great deal more than I do. Because I love libraries.
I love being surrounded by information, managing it, watching it go by, learning how to catalog it and make it more available. It’s even the reason I do blog consulting–I love helping people make their sites more accessible by increasing SEO, by existing in the first place. To me, blogs and websites are another way that information is managed and conveyed and I could follow that path–but my heart is in libraries.
Micah gets the same kick out of teaching. His goal as a teacher is to help young people learn the skills to figure out what they believe, why the believe it. He hopes to equip them for major decisions down the road and for being better people. He loves talking to students, teaching, everything but grading.
What matters is that you can a) figure out what you love doing and b) learn how to live happily on what you make. You will always earn a finite number of money, whether it’s $30,000 a year, $150,000 a year, or $5,000,000 a year. There will always be things you can and can’t do.
Learning how to live frugally, how to prioritize what types of spending will bring you the most happiness, combined with work you actually enjoy will bring you a more fulfilling life than giving up what you love because you can’t make a living at it.
If you have certain financial obligations, you may have to make a trade-off and do something close to what you love. For example, I’ve identified several non-library paths that I could also take with my interests which would make a good deal more money. I prefer libraries (at least now), but it’s eye-opening to take a look beyond the what you love to the why you love it and figure out what else you might love.
Don’t give up doing what you love just because it’s not going to make you rich. You can learn to live on less. You might even be surprised by how content you’ll be when the money isn’t trying to make up for a lack of satisfaction in your professional life.
Do you love your job? Most of the time? Have you had to make certain lifestyle tradeoffs for it, or have you found something that’ll support you.