Making Money vs Doing What You Love


78 Comments
Passion vs Pay

Johnny and I are all about maximizing our savings, being financially prepared, and doing everything we can to make a few extra cents. So because of our mindset toward money, one would assume that we would have chosen careers that maximized our cash flow. Right?

But we didn’t. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that most people care about having money. As bright-eyed-bushy-tailed 18-year-olds deciding what path to take in life, the majority of us imagined our futures as ones where we’d be financially free. But then it came time to choosing a major and a career, and we had a choice: passion or pay?

Some chose a career based 100% on passion. Others, based 100% on pay. I knew some of both of these extremes during my college days. And then the rest of us made a choice that took both passion and pay into account.

I would say Johnny and I both mostly fell into the “passion” bucket of people. I’m very visual, and that sentence caused me to imagine a bunch of tiny people falling into a ginormous bucket. Anyone else? ……[crickets]…… Anywho, Johnny chose Advertising because he’s passionate about creating. If he can create something that makes a person reconsider a long-held notion or that causes someone to laugh out loud during an otherwise mundane day, he’s one happy man. I chose Editing because I’m passionate about marking things up and telling people they’re wrong! Just kidding. Grammar was just always my thang. It got me, I got it, etc. — which is another way of saying, “I’ve always been a nerd.”

And like most youngin’s, we believed that if we were passionate enough, the money would come rolling in. Well, maybe not rolling in, but we believed what every adult had ever told us: “If you’re passionate enough, you can be successful at anything!”

But then you become an adult, and reality sets in. No matter how passionate a person is, there are always extenuating circumstances that can affect success: the economy, office politics, major life events, etc. That said, Johnny and I both do well in our respective career fields, and we’re not hurting for money, but if we’d chosen the “money” bucket (once again with that visual), we’d probably be on a path to making more money than our “passion” choices make us.

More often than not I think what you’re passionate about translates into a different career description than what you imagined. As we mentioned in this post, Johnny works more than we’d like. There’s no real separation between work and home life for him right now. And that gets us wondering if the money bucket would have been the better choice. Even if he worked long hours, the cash flow would help justify it. But even if we both loved our jobs to pieces and they were perfectly perfect and matched our passions to a T, at the end of the day, they’d still just be jobs. So maybe the money bucket would be the right choice no matter what.

I feel like a lot of adults end up making the decision to throw away their career passions for more money. What percentage of 40-year-olds do you know who are working in a career field that still matches their college major? A few years ago, neither Johnny nor I would have ever thought we’d be open to such an idea. We’d be selling out, and how could we do that when the future was ours for the taking? But now we’re rethinking and wondering if those folks who chose pay over passion were onto something. And I’m not saying choosing “pay” would be sunshine and butterflies, but for those who choose it, it’s no longer the wrong choice in our minds. Especially if it means being able to ditch a life of having to choose a passion or pay (aka retirement) a little earlier.

So which did you choose? Is it better to choose passion or pay? Are you one of the lucky few who spends all day doing what you love while rolling in the dough?

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78 Comments

  • Reply Brian April 23, 2013 at 7:56 am

    I ended up picking both. Well at least I thought I did. I love aircraft and flying so I went into Aeronautical / Astronautical Engineering (got lucky that I live in a state with one of the best programs!). About half way through I realized I don’t really like engineering and probably should have done a different program and become a pilot. Oh well. I went ahead and finished my degree and even had a couple internships in engineering (even designed some lovely repairs that are being used on some aircraft that are flying to this day). Then I went ahead and followed my second passion which is finance. Got an MBA with a finance concentration and now I do that for the government. I will probably jump ship in the next couple of years and go private sector, but we will see.

    • Reply Joanna April 24, 2013 at 12:50 am

      Ah, the elusive “both” balance! That’s awesome you were able to find a career that meets both criteria, Brian. And it’s cool that you know you can try a different aspect of finance once you’re done with working for the government!

  • Reply JW_Umbrella Treasury April 23, 2013 at 8:15 am

    I chose my college major based on what I loved –English. But after I graduated, there weren’t any jobs in my intended field (teaching, editing, PR). I ended up working for a non-profit as an admin assistant. Now I crunch numbers for the same non-profit. I am paid a very comfortable salary and I love what I’m doing. Turns out I’m a numbers geek.

    One of my career mentors told me, “find something you love to do, and you’ll never work a day on your life.” it was great advice. I got lucky in that my passion now overlaps with a way to make a comfortable living.

    • Reply Joanna April 24, 2013 at 12:53 am

      That’s awesome, JW. It’s funny how sometimes you don’t realize that you love doing something until you actually do it — in your case, crunching numbers! Way to find a happy passion/pay balance.

  • Reply Tushar @ Everything Finance April 23, 2013 at 9:14 am

    I chose something right in the middle of the line. I don’t think you have to be passionate about your career choice.. I’m in the group of people that thinks that if you are getting paid for it and rely on it for your income, you are likely going to lose some of your passion for it. I do understand the desire to love your job though!

    • Reply Joanna April 24, 2013 at 12:56 am

      I can see where you’re coming from, Tushar. Once you *have to* do something, it’s not nearly as fun, even if you’d normally enjoy doing it!

  • Reply Elvin @ Journey To Millions April 23, 2013 at 9:18 am

    I think I did it for pay during college and eventually passion on the early years of working for a company. I stayed on an engineering course thinking that it will give me more bucks in the future, which it did. However, as I was working, my love for programming keeps on telling me to pursue passion. So I did.

    I guess, one cannot run away from passion. Same goes with pay. If we started with either one, the other will follow.

    • Reply Joanna April 24, 2013 at 12:58 am

      Yeah, we have to pursue our passions one way or the other, whether it’s in our free time or at work. Otherwise, life is dull. I’m glad you were able to pursue your passion for programming!

  • Reply Executioner April 23, 2013 at 9:29 am

    I’ve thought about this often. Even when I was in college struggling with selection of a major, I couldn’t think of anything I liked enough to want to spend 40+ hours a week at it. So I ended up choosing a degree which I felt I could earn, and a job that I felt could help me pay the bills. But I’m not passionate about either of them.

    I’ve also thought that if somehow I could find a way to get paid for doing the things I truly enjoy, that the “work” aspect of them would negatively impact the enjoyment. For example, I really like hiking and backpacking. But I think I’d start to resent it if someone expected me to hike eight hours every day, without an end goal in sight, regardless of weather, or my current health, or the type of scenery (or lack thereof) that I might be hiking through. If my passion of hiking turned into my job of hiking, it would be tainted.

    For this reason I believe the best path for me is to work at an uninteresting job that pays a decent salary, and make the most efficient use of it by not squandering the salary on nonsense and crap. I hope to save as much of it as possible so I can limit my hours in the full-time workforce, giving me more free time to spend on things that are truly my passions while I am still relatively “young”.

    I think Red Foreman summarized work best:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXrwjLahUdw

    • Reply Joanna April 24, 2013 at 1:03 am

      You make a really good point. If I were forced to work doing what I love to do in my free time (such as reading books or crocheting), those hobbies would lose their appeal really quick.

      It sounds like you’ve found a job that works well for you, and one that allows a good work/life separation!

  • Reply Erin @ Red Debted Stepchild April 23, 2013 at 9:30 am

    I guess out of the two you could say I chose pay, but I actually chose stability. I was afraid of not being able to find something after graduation in a less safe field, so I went with accounting. Now I’m trying to get out and do something I’m more passionate about. I think that it’s important to find balance between being the starving artist and the miserable yuppie :).

    • Reply Joanna April 24, 2013 at 1:06 am

      Agreed, Erin. Accounting is probably something you’ll always be able to fall back on, which is awesome, but if you don’t enjoy doing it (as you implied on Michelle’s comment), then something’s gotta give. That balance is out there for ya — I hope you find it soon! :)

  • Reply Anesha April 23, 2013 at 10:02 am

    So I’m facing this decision right now…my husband and I are about to make a HUGE transition. We both currently work (making equal pay) and have 2 small children. We are both high school graduates with a few college classes but no degrees. The Hubster is looking at taking a new job in a new state. His pay would be slightly higher with potential to make lots of commission. So we’re thinking about changing out strategy. I’ll stay at home with the children, knock out a degree in accounting (not my passion..but awesome pay.) We will live on only his base pay, rat holing his commission. Once my degree is complete the youngest will be in grade school, then to which I’ll go and get a J.O.B. We’ll continue to live on beans and rice start going crazy on saving some dough. Then we’ll buy some rental properties (cash) and we’ll have some passive income as well. So dump us in the money bucket. I’ve never “not worked” before. So I’m not sure how I feel about not contributing monetarily to the household. I’m hoping all the risk will be worth the reward in the long haul. We’re young enough that if we get it wrong now, we still have time to clean up the mess…God willing.

    • Reply Joanna April 24, 2013 at 1:13 am

      It definitely sounds like you’ve put a lot of thought into making your goals into a reality. And I love that you’ve mapped it out to seeing success! So often when Johnny and I talk about goals, we never get past the first step, instead of looking at the big picture.

      Having made some big decisions in the last few years, I know the strain it can put on the family. But the end goal makes it all worth it, and you guys can do it. Best of luck!

  • Reply Sarah April 23, 2013 at 10:14 am

    I chose money over passion….
    *long life story condensed into a short life story*

    My husband and I chose to get married at a very young age (19). So when I was offered an internship with the government that promised mucho dinero, I took it-no questions asked. Although I have been able to situate myself into a career I’m not miserable in…and I do make more than my average 23-year-old peers, I do wish I had stopped to think more about what I actually wanted in a career. And I sometimes get panick attacks at the thought of staying in this particular career for the next 40+ years because it’s just not “me”.

    In short, having worked the past four years for money and not for passion, I would love love LOVE the opportunity to pursue my passion instead (writing/church ministry)…even if it meant less money and longer work hours.

    • Reply Joanna April 24, 2013 at 1:23 am

      I think we’d be surprised at how many people feel the same way you do, Sarah. The cool thing is, it’s your life, and no one is forcing you to stick with that career for the next 40 years. Of course, choosing a new path is easier said than done, but in the meantime, take advantage of the perks of getting paid well!

      Good luck with finding a way to pursue your passion. Where there’s a will there’s a way, right?

  • Reply Emory April 23, 2013 at 10:22 am

    Well, I definitely have seen both sides of the coin and I fell head over heals into the passion bucket. When I graduated my husband and I were both just desperate to find jobs. I had spent a summer interning at a shelter and spent my senior year doing volunteer work and research with them. A couple of days before graduation I was offered a position and I said yes. While the pay is not anything to brag about and the only benefits they can offer me is a 403b plan, this job is my calling. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have been tempted to look at higher paying jobs in my field that offer benefits, but I don’t think I would want to work anywhere else right now. I feel like I make a real difference at my job and frankly, we don’t have many bills at this point so my salary covers the major stuff. This has given my husband the freedom to pursue his true passion – football. I firmly stand by the reasoning that if you are following your passions then you will be happier in your work than if you are just doing it for the money. My husband and I have had to make some sacrifices. We live a pretty simple life. But we do this with the understanding that we are living well below our means and one day we will be able to have more and do more because we are making smart financial choices now. My husband and I have made the decision that while we are still young and have no children we are going to follow our passions and gain experience to take into our later lives.

    • Reply Joanna April 24, 2013 at 1:27 am

      I love your perspective, Emory! It’s so great you and your husband not only chose your passions, but you love doing them as much as you hoped you would. And actually making a real difference is something very few people can claim, so that’s also super cool. Way to pursue your dreams.

      Johnny and I chose our passions, and then the jobs in our respective fields ended up not being as enjoyable as we were hoping. We neither hate nor love our jobs, ya know? So that’s our conundrum. If we both loved our work, I think we’d feel like you and your husband!

  • Reply Mary D. April 23, 2013 at 10:45 am

    After much careful thought, I’m going the passion route.

    I completed two years at a community college as a liberal arts major. You would think that two years would be enough time to think about what you want to do for the rest of you life right? Not really. Since high school, I kept going back and forth with the idea of becoming a clinical psychologist (which is my ultimate dream). I had a baby at 15 years old and always felt that I needed to make money now. How could I balance completing so many years in school, my daughter, and working full-time? I’ve taken a semester off here and there but now I’m back in school full-time to complete my bachelors. I should be done by next June but I’ve finally decided that I will just go ahead and go for my dream. I read a quote that went something like this: don’t give up on your dream just because of time. The time will pass anyway.

    Whether it takes me 4, 5, or 6 more years — I’m going the passion route. I’m currently working as an administrative assistant for a mortgage company and the pay is not too shabby. Luckily, its a really slow paced office and I’m able to get homework done while at work. Oh and leave blog comments too :)

    • Reply Joanna April 24, 2013 at 1:37 am

      I love that quote! And I think you’ve got a great mindset, Mary. You’ll never look back and think, “Man, I wish I hadn’t pursued my dream.” But if you don’t go after it, you could wonder “What if?” down the road. And the fact that you’re about to get a bachelor’s while working and being a parent shows just how determined and hard working you are!

      And any job that allows time for homework and blog perusing is pretty sweet. 😀

  • Reply Anna April 23, 2013 at 11:12 am

    I’m in a similar situation. I’ve recently come to realize that I would like to work to live instead of live to work. To that end, I’m considering a job in a different area of my field that I’ve never really felt passionate about, but that I wouldn’t mind doing.

    • Reply Joanna April 24, 2013 at 1:42 am

      Amen, Anna. My job is pretty good as far as that goes, but Johnny’s struggling with being able to have a life outside of work. It’s exhausting, and it’s making him have some of the same considerations you are.

      Having a good work/life balance is priceless, so I think you’re super smart to look at your options!

  • Reply Emily @ evolvingPF April 23, 2013 at 11:22 am

    My husband and I both chose our college majors based on our passion for the sciences, but it didn’t hurt that people with technical educations are pretty employable. When I was choosing what to study for my PhD, though, I went a little more ‘pay.’ My passion choice would have been astrobiology, but I wasn’t interested in the struggle for funding and the lifestyle of an astronomer. So I went with something still interesting to me – and more applied, which I like – that was also slated to be the fastest-growing field, biomedical engineering. My husband is still following his passion in computational biology, but it looks like he’ll be okay on the employment side anyway.

    I think what your standard for ‘pay’ matters a lot in determining which route you went. Sure, I could be paid more if I had gone into finance with my physics BS, but I have no need to be paid that much. We’re not going to be starving with two PhDs – we’ll do fine! Now if my passion was something that really paid peanuts I might be inclined to go for something else for full-time employment.

    • Reply Joanna April 24, 2013 at 1:50 am

      It sounds like you and your husband have found an awesome balance with pay + passion, Emily! And all the while earning PhDs, which is double awesome! I’m glad there are people like you guys who are passionate about science, biology, engineering and the like because all of that stuff would be torture for me. 😉

  • Reply Rob April 23, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Obviously the ultimate answer is to have a job that one is passionate about and that pays well because then it’s not really a job but a vocation. That said, however, life is not always perfect and reality does intrude. So one has options: choose one’s passion and perhaps make lots of sacrifices to survive (at least initially) or choose a direction that pays better but which might not be exactly to one’s liking, thereby resulting in boredom and/or stress.

    Often, due to various circumstances, we don’t have a choice and must grab “whatever is out there”. This then means that you have to have a coping mechanism, trying to put balance in one’s life. Perhaps working at something that “puts food on the table and a roof over one’s head” while also having a hobby (or other outside interests) that one can become passionate about.

    There’s never one answer that fits all lifestyles. Just go with the flow…

    • Reply Joanna April 24, 2013 at 1:54 am

      You’re totally right, Rob. I think for now Johnny and I are hoping to just have a better work/life balance even if it means not necessarily being super passionate about it. And then once we’ve saved up enough money, maybe we’ll take a leap of faith and go the passion route once again. But like you said, it’s always about trying to find that balance!

  • Reply Chris April 23, 2013 at 11:40 am

    I’m not really passionate about anything. I chose the path of least resistance. I had taken some Cisco courses in high school so the logical major was Information Systems. I finished that up and then pursued a job in IT. I’m actually pretty bored in this field. I wouldn’t mind trying something else but since passion is absent I would probably just follow the money (you know, be a bank president or something). I’ve been thinking about going back to get my MBA and pursue something in the finance sector since that’s where I’m currently doing IT.

    • Reply Joanna April 24, 2013 at 1:57 am

      I have a hard time believing you’re not passionate about anything! But I think I know what you mean… nothing that you’d consider as a career. If you’re at a point in your life where you can go back to school or try something new, I think it’s totally worth it. No use in settling for a career if you can find one that will end up being a better fit for you!

  • Reply Jake Erickson April 23, 2013 at 11:45 am

    I feel very fortunate that I’m doing what I love (and what I went to school for) while making a good amount of money. I work in finance for a large corporation currently. Is it my perfect job and am I always happy, no, but I do really enjoy it for the most part. I see a lot of my friends following their passion while not thinking twice about the money. This just doesn’t seem very logical to me. I know money doesn’t solve all problems, but it does give you more freedom to do the things you love (outside of work).

    • Reply Joanna April 24, 2013 at 2:00 am

      That’s great, Jake! Few people are able to find passion + pay. And I agree… money has to be considered at some point. I wish it weren’t a factor, but we all need a decent amount of it to live comfortably and prepare for the future!

  • Reply Nicole April 23, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    I didn’t go the passion route but I can’t say I “settled” for the pay route either. I am an accountant and I don’t love what I do but I like it. I have opportunities to get into projects that I find stimulating but I’m not necessarily passionate about. Because I get paid better than if I had gone for my passion, I now have the means to pursue my passion outside of working, which is really fulfilling.

    When you contemplate the passion vs. pay you need to consider work/life balance. If you LOVE your job, it may not be as big of a deal to work 60 hour work weeks because you are already getting paid for what you love and maybe you are sacrificing something in your personal life to maintain the lifestyle to fit into your budget. But…if you are just ok with your job, as I am, I make sure I have a strong work/life balance and limit my overtime or do none at all. This allows me to put my paycheck into things I am passionate about during my personal time.

    Ultimately, I want to be able to retire young and enjoy what I do for the rest of my life while not being required to answer to anyone. I feel that if I were to be working in the field of my passion I would have to wait to retire, and although I’d be loving what I do, I’d still have to answer to someone while doing it.

    The biggest thing I take away from this debate is to never do something you hate just because it pays well, you have to like what you do a little bit.

    • Reply Joanna April 24, 2013 at 2:09 am

      I think you’re spot on with that takeaway, Nicole. You have to sorta like what you do, even if the pay is crazy good.

      And Johnny and I are really leaning more toward your philosophy now that we’re in the new stage of life with a kid. Johnny wants a better work/life balance, but he doesn’t want to sacrifice good pay to get it. So if that means having a job that pays well but that he’s not super passionate about, so be it. He wants to be able to be home to see our kids grow up.

      I think you’ve got a great mindset and a job that supports it, so keep on keepin’ on!

  • Reply Grayson @ Debt Roundup April 23, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    I picked my college education based on something that I knew, Marketing. As I went through college, I stayed with my major but I studied on my own to do what I enjoyed and that was online work and efficiency work. I am lucky to have a career that I really love and I make good money. In looking for a career, I would look for something that has a little bit of both. Most of the time, something we are truly passionate about doesn’t make us much money. You still have to pay the bills.

    • Reply Johnny April 24, 2013 at 2:08 am

      That’s awesome that you took the initiative to find other topics that interested you and made something from those pursuits. I think finding something with balance is getting harder and harder. But that just means we need to work harder at finding ways of pursuing the things that make us happy.

  • Reply Kaylyn April 23, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    I totally chose passion over pay. I had a great paying internship at Aflac (on track to make six figures my first year!), but chose instead to go into full time campus ministry. I work 60-80 hour weeks, am on campus some nights until midnight, have to fundraise my budget – but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else right now. I don’t make a lot of money, but I try to steward it the best I can. My sister went the pay route, makes a TON TON TON of money, but regrets selling out for a big paycheck and a job she hates.

    I will say though, that I do sometimes covet a job that I can leave “at work.” It’s really hard for me to take off or to even stop strategizing about campus stuff. It would be great to have a job that has more set hours, but because I love what I do, I don’t mind as much :)

    • Reply Johnny April 24, 2013 at 2:05 am

      Awesome! Good for you for making a hard choice and loving the consequences. And I’m with you on the leaving work at work. It’s nearly impossible for me to disconnect. On the occasional vacation where I’m completely free from work, Joanna always remarks how different and carefree I am. It’s a shame I can’t always be that guy, but it’s just not possible with my current career.

  • Reply Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies April 23, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Call us Mr and Mrs Sellout, I guess. We went for the money. Luckily we both are pretty skilled at things that pay pretty well (though it took longer for Mr. PoP to figure that out than me). I don’t think either of us consider our jobs “passions”, but they are interesting enough that we are satisfied doing them for another 5 or so years, at which point we’ll have enough banked that we can throw the corporate world aside and follow whatever our passions are at that point in time.

    • Reply Johnny April 24, 2013 at 2:02 am

      I’m always amused at people who reject and despise bands that “sell out.” Uhhh, sorry that we wanted to make our music more accessible for the masses while we rake in cash. I’m sure I’ve been disappointed about a band selling out before, but it seems silly in hindsight.

      I love your plan. And I’m beginning to think that’s the hand we’d like to play. Our 5 years might be more like 10 or 15, but so long it’s anything less than 65, we’d be happy.

  • Reply Michelle April 23, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    I chose the pay route, and I really wish that I wouldn’t have. I wake up every morning regretting my choice. My job isn’t bad and the people I work with are awesome. HOWEVER, my job is so boring that I want to rip my eyeballs out every morning whenever my alarm goes off.

    • Reply Erin @ Red Debted Stepchild April 23, 2013 at 4:37 pm

      You and me both.

    • Reply Johnny April 24, 2013 at 1:59 am

      For everyone’s sake, leave those eyeballs be. We, and many others, would be disappointed if you couldn’t keep blogging because of that little mishap. :)

  • Reply Roo // NEON FRESH April 23, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    We both chose passion, and while we don’t regret it, the financial end of things can certainly be frustrating. At the same time, we both wake up and we love to go to work…. so I know that’s worth a lot.

    • Reply Johnny April 24, 2013 at 1:58 am

      Two roads diverged in a wood, and you,
      You took the road labeled, “Passionate people only who want to be awesome writers and play music for people and generally win at life.”
      And that has made all the difference.

      This moment of poetry is probably not approved by Robert Frost.

  • Reply Shannon-ReadyForZero April 23, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    I think the answer to that depends on who you are – whether you crave or need stability more or happiness at work more. I sort of chose the pay route when I was living in NYC (meaning I didn’t make a ton of money, but had a corporate job w/decent pay and benefits that bored me to tears when I would honestly at that time rather been working at a coffee shop so I could spend more time writing). However, in my free time I worked hard on my creative interests – writing a novel and working as a freelance writer. The freelance writing paid off and led to my current job – the job of my dreams. While I won’t be a millionaire anytime soon, I make enough to pay bills and save every month – all while looking forward to work each day. Striking the balance ended up really working out for me in the end.

    • Reply Johnny April 24, 2013 at 1:52 am

      I wish a UPS guy would knock on my door and say, “Here’s that ‘balance’ you ordered from Amazon.” I’d be a terrible tight rope walker. :) It seems like I’m always on either end of the spectrum of overworking and overplaying. I usually enjoy going to work, but I hate that it sucks up so much of my nights and weekends. And then when I let loose and try to forget about work, I end up leaving more work on my plate next day.

      I’m sure that balance will come over time, but that’s awesome that you’re in such a good place right now. Congrats.

  • Reply Felicia April 23, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    I chose the pay route. I’m an introvert, I’m good with numbers and I despised writing or public speaking. I’m also a foreigner. I know that I wanted to stay and work in the US after school and my chances for that are greater with STEM career than Accounting career so I studied computer science. I currently work as System Analyst, which pays pretty well. But the job involves writing and lots of it and also gives demo on the software new feature to a room full of people. I don’t regret my choice but I do have to get out of my comfort zone everyday.

    • Reply Johnny April 24, 2013 at 1:44 am

      Getting out of comfort zones can be healthy and empowering. Because at some point, those things likely won’t be things that make you nervous anymore. You’ll probably be doing stand up comedy in front of your clients in no time. :) Funny how the things we avoid always mange to find us.

  • Reply Honey Smith April 23, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    I think that what often doesn’t get mentioned in articles like these are the folks whose passion will always be what they do outside of work (read, garden, spend time with family, whatever it may be). Then you just choose a job that will enable you to live that outside-work life.

    • Reply Johnny April 24, 2013 at 1:30 am

      Wait, so you’re saying I can’t get paid to watch YouTube videos of cats all day? :) You’re spot on though. That’s actually where a lot of my discontent stems from right now. I enjoy my job, but I wouldn’t say I’m passionate about it. The problem is that it absorbs my nights and weekends, which prevents me from pursuing my passions outside of work. So that would be the major reason for us to look into jobs that, like you said, enable me to live that life outside of work.

  • Reply Jess April 23, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    At first, I think it was more money oriented. I worked at an internship that paid a whole lot but was extremely boring! I quickly decided that I would rather make less money and atleast somewhat enjoy my job. I now work at a non-profit legal office and love my job. I was just accepted into graduate school for Social Work and look very forward to beginning a career as a social worker in the near future. Non-profit work is my passion and though it won’t make me rich, it will make me happy and bring much joy to my life. The reward of helping others far outweighs money IMO.

    • Reply Johnny April 24, 2013 at 1:27 am

      That’s awesome! Congrats on your grad school acceptance and finding a path that’s fulfilling. I totally agree that helping others is worth it’s weight in warm fuzzy feelings. My dream has always been to teach, but that unfortunately will be something that probably has to wait.

  • Reply My Financial Independence Journey April 23, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    I fall in the middle. I’ve found that what I’m passionate about never seems to pay very well. And that what pays well, I hate doing. So I split the difference, I like my current job, it pays great, but I’m not passionate about it. But this is probably as good as it’s going to get unless I go back to college and do everything over.

    • Reply Johnny April 24, 2013 at 1:24 am

      It sounds like you’re in a pretty good situation. And I think the most important thing is filling your free time away from work with the things you’re passionate about. That’s where I’m currently in a bind because I don’t have the time to do the things that make me tick. All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy.

  • Reply eemusings April 23, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    I’m in a pretty similar bucket – doing what I love, more or less, making decent money, but there’s not a lot of room to increase my income, I don’t think. I also often wonder if I should defect and chase the money instead.

    • Reply Johnny April 24, 2013 at 1:23 am

      The older I get, the more I lean toward defect. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. But I don’t love it enough to absorb my nights and weekends. I envy a 9-5 that keeps work at work and where there’s not a ceiling on pay. But maybe that’s just fishing for a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

  • Reply jrm April 24, 2013 at 5:20 am

    I work as a hydrogeologist – environmental remediation. I have a B.S. in geology, that as a nearly 40-something, yes I very much use my degree. I went into it for stability more than anything. I find the work interesting, and surprisingly entertaining at times. I enjoy geology stuff love the career path I’m in.

    I realize I am fortunate that I found myself hitting most if not all of the “find you career happiness” points. For anyone still searching know that it wasn’t always clear what projects I wanted to focus on, how to get to the next step. Took some very meandering paths but it does happen.

    • Reply Johnny April 29, 2013 at 1:56 am

      So great to hear you pursued your major/interest and made a career out of it. I think oftentimes, we get stuck and just settle for something else right out of school when the perfect job doesn’t show up. So congrats to you, and thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Kim @ Racing Bananas April 24, 2013 at 11:23 am

    I have this debate with myself all the time! After accumulating TOO much debt pursuing my Master’s, I now have a job I love, but barely make enough money to get by, much less make a dent in my student loan repayments. If I could do it again, I think I would choose a higher paying career instead of pursuing a career I love. It’s sad, but true.

    • Reply Johnny April 29, 2013 at 2:00 am

      The sad truth is I think I’m probably in the same boat as you. I remember scoffing at my friends who were going to business school because… well it was business school. And that’s where you went if you wanted to make money. I think I’m happy with my career, but I’d probably be happier taking some of the aspects I love about it and making more money in a business marketing field. But the past is past, so instead the focus should be on how to make the most of the situation and see if there are opportunities to make more money or try something new.

  • Reply Nicer Weather and $1,916 in Extra Income | Making Sense Of Cents April 29, 2013 at 11:22 pm

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  • Reply Reality Guy August 13, 2013 at 12:20 am

    I’ll turn 29 next year and for the past 2 years, I had a complete 180. I’ve always been involved with music and thought that if I had worked hard enough, I would be successful. Perhaps I hadn’t worked HARD enough but I realized all the energy I was putting into music might go nowhere. I didn’t wake up one day and say, I’m going to quit being a musician, it just slowly happened as reality seeped in me.

    Now I’m completely for the money, many would find that statement shallow but on a deeper level, how can you truly enjoy life (or your ‘passion’) unless you are financially free? Perhaps I will go back to music when I don’t have to work for another day. To me, having financially freedom means everything right now.

    I’m in the process of saving money for my second home so I can have more passive income. I have already gained a good amount of money from my first home so I plan to keep the ball rolling.

    I also used to think people who follow money lacked integrity but my perspective has changed.

    • Reply Johnny August 28, 2013 at 1:13 am

      That’s an awesome perspective. Reality is tough to swallow sometimes, but you can’t run away from it either. Like you, I have a lot of passions and hobbies that I would love to commit all of my time to. But since they won’t pay the bills or give my family the security we need to be happy, I’ve chosen careers that keep me moderately happy and give me the time to pursue those hobbies on the side. Without side projects, I’d probably go crazy.

      Thanks for sharing your perspective, and best of luck to you!

  • Reply Jessica December 25, 2013 at 4:43 am

    This is something that I have been getting my head around. Balance between passion and making money, that’s tough. I’ve come to a point in my life where I have a few business ideas; a few that I strongly believe will make money but it is not something I like to do. On the other hand, in terms of the things I love to do, I am not sure if it will make money but it is something that I do not mind doing every single hour of my life. Financially, I am stable and have no worries but one question would be if you are willing to let go such a great opportunity to do something you like? On the other hand, if you were to jump into this making money business, you know the fact that you need to spend at least a few years of your life on this!

    So this is definitely a tough decision for me!

    • Reply Johnny December 30, 2013 at 12:49 am

      That’s the real question: is the warmth and comfort of financial security worth more than the things you love? Without a wife and child, I think I’d be much more willing to go the passion route, but it’s tough when you’re making decisions that affect others.

      Best of luck in your own decisions. It sounds like you have good options either way.

  • Reply Hii Fiive December 28, 2013 at 9:13 am

    I have spent most of my adult life studying in creative fields. I now have a young family and have never had a 9-5 job, or any full time job and I am in my early thirties. Now the pressure is on to make up for all the lost income in the studying years!
    I followed my passion thinking that everything would work out if I was talented and passionate enough. I do believe that this would be true, except that I did not have a plan for how I was going to land my dream job. At this point I am glad to have realised that I can use my creativity in ways that can earn a really good living, not just for design, art and craft. I realised I can use my creativity training and out of the box thinking to create and sustain business ventures. I now run 2 small businesses that leave enough time for me to pursue arts, crafts and design in my spare time. This suits me better since I don’t need customers to like the end products enough to buy them. I just do it to please myself. Having said that, had I pursued a career based on money, there is no doubt that by now I would have had more money to do more of the things I wanted to do when I was younger, such as travel. I can’t say that I regret my career choices though, because now I am in an ideal situation that I designed – it just took a little longer to achieve.

    I suppose what I am saying is that passion is a good start, but keeping an open mind about where your passion could lead might be beneficial if you feel like you are getting nowhere. Also, it is good if you can tie your passion kite down, anchor it in reality with a well thought out plan, and face up to financial and practical realities in front of you. Having monetary goals should not carry the shame of “selling out”.

    • Reply Johnny December 30, 2013 at 12:54 am

      “It is good if you can tie your passion kite down, anchor it in reality with a well thought out plan, and face up to financial and practical realities in front of you.”

      Bingo. Hit the nail on the head. Creative and enjoyable jobs are out there, but most people don’t usually just stumble into them. There needs to be a plan, goals, and actionable tasks to make it happen. While I’m much happier in my current job, the dream is still out there. And I’m sure I’ll get back to chasing it before long. :) Thanks for your comment.

  • Reply Derek Tho February 25, 2014 at 7:30 am

    As Jessie J sings: ‘… Ain’t About the (Uh) Cha-Chang Cha-Chang, Ain’t About the (Yeah) Ba-Bling Ba-Bling…!’

    • Reply Johnny February 28, 2014 at 12:22 am

      Preach it, Derek.

  • Reply Robin Willis March 18, 2014 at 3:15 am

    Well, I chose passion over pay, definitely. Im a professional singer. Im lucky, because I knew by the time I was 2 that I wanted to be a singer. When I got to college I went for an performance degree, againt the advise of many. I had to put myself through college, so I always had some sort of ‘job’ until I was able to make money singing. And I think thats what you do when you chose passion over pay, especially in the arts; you keep finding ways to make money doing what you love, and hold down at least a part time job, while putting effort into perfecting your passion. Nothing worth its salt comes without effort. Its definitely a gradual process- every overnight sucess was/is 10 years in the making. Passion breeds motivation.

  • Reply kelsey April 28, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    I’m an editor as well, so I definitely chose passion over money. I just really enjoy grammar and marking up written documents, which I know you understand :-) I get to do it for my church, too, so both my passions are lining up. However, would I do it if I didn’t get paid? I’m not sure. I’d much rather sit on a beach all day long! Or, even blog for a living instead and write about what I really want to write about. But for now, I’m happy enough to do this for the steady income.

    • Reply Joanna May 9, 2014 at 11:01 am

      I think you and I are on the same page with editing! I really love it, but I probably wouldn’t do it for free! I’m all for figuring out a way to get paid to sit on a beach all day :).

  • Reply Abbigail June 16, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    I just graduated from high school this spring. Before I did, me and my classmates were having a discussion with my English teacher about the future. He said that if he could do it over, he would probably pursue teaching but in a different subject, like history, because at the end of the day he has no energy to write and read anything just for himself. He deciding to go into teaching English because he loved literature and writing, but the repetitiveness of it has dimmed his love for the subject. I’ve been thinking about majoring in English or Journalism, but after that conversation with my teacher, this article, and lots of thinking, I don’t really know if I should pursue something that I love or something that I like that makes more money in order to pursue passions outside of my future career. Plus, no matter how reasonable having a job I like and making a good salary sound, I still have to figure out what that job would be. Reading all of these comments has helped me consider other options, but they have also made me realize how difficult choosing a career is going to be.

    • Reply Joanna June 16, 2014 at 7:40 pm

      It’s a tough decision for sure! I think it’s important to find that balance between passion and pay. No amount of pay is worth it if you’re miserable. I’d suggest using your Freshman year of college as a time to explore different options to see what would be a good fit for you. Good luck, Abbigail!

  • Reply Abby February 25, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    I got a job offer upon graduation completely unrelated to my major (which was sociology). I loved what I studied but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I’ve been working in the oil and gas industry for 2+ years now, and at the age of 25 am doing very well financially. I took up yoga 8 months ago and it changed my perspective on life. I had always felt there was something missing and I believe now that it was passion. Yoga brought passion into my life and now I have made the decision to bring passion into all aspects of my life. After volunteering at various organizations I’ve made the decision to go back to school to get my masters in Social work so I can get my license to become a therapist. It will take two years of school, then two more years of supervised hours until I can get my license, and if I open up a private practice I am hoping I can have a comfortable enough lifestyle.
    I say choose passion because what you do every day matters, and if you don’t enjoy it what’s the point?

    • Reply Johnny March 22, 2015 at 1:13 am

      Thanks for sharing your story, Abby. Super inspiring, and your question at the end is spot on. While this post of ours is a bit dated now, you better believe we still come back to this struggle on a regular basis. And hopefully we’ll be able to make brave choices that will land us in a place where we no longer need to ask the question.

  • Reply 3dd September 19, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    who here lives in the ghetto? with that being said finding a career thats balanced on both ends is really hard. most if not all individuals that live in the hood seek money likes wolves seek sheep.

  • Reply 10 Mistakes When You Quit Your Job | Job Hatch September 24, 2015 at 4:38 am

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  • Reply Alison December 29, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    I used to think that choosing a career was just about either doing what you love or doing what pays (unless you love what pays) but over the past couple of years, I’ve come to realize that there’s more to it than either passion or pay. The lifestyle you want also needs to be taken into consideration. You shouldn’t go work for Google in the Software Engineering department in San Francisco just because it pays well. Google engineers have no work life balance. It makes no sense to do it just for the money, because you’d never have time to enjoy that financial freedom; unless you lived a very minimalistic lifestyle in order to retire early.

    What people have to consider when following their passion, is that in order to make any kind of money at anything, you have to make what the market wants. People pursuing creative careers especially need to remember this. To be a, filmmaker for example, you have to make what others want. And usually, what others want isn’t artistic, thought-provoking cinema- it’s popcorn fluff. Before going the passion route, you need to ask yourself if you’d love filmmaking even if you were making ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks 26- I’m Getting Too Old for this Chip’, or something like that, because most likely- that’s what you’d be making; and you’d be working 20 hours a day. If you choose a job that allows for work life balance, however, you could spend your free time making whatever kind of movie you wanted.

    Throughout high school, I wanted to become a screenwriter or a director. However, my high school video production teacher really taught me to consider the above. He also helped me discover that filmmaking is more about structure than creativity. It’s more about making sure this happens at that point in the film and that happens at that point in the film. I realized that what I truly loved about making movies was the ‘magic’ of creativity for fun and making ‘Super 8’ (sometimes I wish I was alive in the 80s) style movies with my friends.

    In my first year of University, I considered Majoring in Management Information Systems, but I ultimately decided I didn’t want to just go from one extreme to the other (filmmaking being the ‘passion’ extreme and Management Information Systems being the ‘pay/stability’ extreme). I ended up choosing a double major in Marketing and Advertising, because it seemed more practical than a major in Film Production and it was always my second favourite school subject. My University has a good program that has business/ theory courses as well as courses in writing, graphic design, video production, audio production, web design and game design (including coding). So far I enjoy that it gives me a good balance of passion and being grounded in the real world.

    I’ve considered becoming a copywriter, but that doesn’t generally have the best work life balance (perhaps Johnny can attest to that). I might end up going the market research route, because I find that stuff really interesting and I think it gives a better work life balance. I’m considering being a copywriter for maybe two years to get some passion in, and then doing a Masters in Market Research so I can have work life balance for the rest of my life; but of course I’m only speaking hypothetically.

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