Can I Do Something I Love & Still Make Money?
Forget bucket-lists: do what you love every day (at least for 15 minutes…)
Do what you love! Believe in yourself! Follow your passion and the money will come! These are aphorisms that chase twentysomethings around the job market for the first 10 years of their working lives, making them anxious about finding what their passion is and wondering whether they’re passionate enough about it anyway. Passion… love… happiness… they’re the buzzwords of our age. Unfortunately they’re not much help for a generation beset by rising living costs, astronomical student debt and record levels of job insecurity.
So how can we think our way round this problem? Is it really possible to do only work that makes you feel good? Is feeling good the same as being happy?
Let’s get back to basics. “Finding a job you’re passionate about” is, for most people on this earth, about as relevant a concept as finding just the right shade of golden taps for your marble bathtub. Most people have to take any job they can to make ends meet and take care of their family.
But for we lucky few educated Westerners, there are choices. And that in itself is such a gift that we must muster all our philosophical apparatus to make the right ones. But we have news for you, people: the right choice may be more complex than simply pursuing pleasure.
Whatever your passion – baking, singing, dancing – we bet you would like to do it all day long. And maybe in your twenties, you do. But then life gets in the way, right? You’re sick of being broke, you wonder how you’ll ever afford a nicer place to live, and your parents are getting sick of bankrolling you. So you give up on your dreams and train as an accountant.
But what if there was a third way? A happy medium between doing what you love and doing what’s right by those who depend on you, and society at large?
Research by Harvard Business Review shows that people who do even 15 minutes a day to further their pursuit of something they love and believe in, report higher levels of wellbeing than those who don’t. So even if you’ve decided to be practical and get a job that’s a bit boring but well paid, you don’t have to give up on what you love doing - devote as much of your spare time to it as possible, and it might even develop in to a lucrative side-hustle. Plus there’s a very real satisfaction - that starts to feel like joy as you get older - to be gained from doing the “right” thing and saving money for the future wellbeing of yourself and your loved one.
Having said all that, we shouldn’t ignore the amazing motivating power of passion and enthusiasm. If there’s any way you can find a job based on something you enjoy, DO IT, as long as it doesn’t pay literally nothing. It’s surely worth earning less than your friends – or less than you could be earning elsewhere – if you adore the field you’re working in. After all, when the chips are down at work, only those who feel passionate about their industry will feel motivated to carry that tough project through / stay up all night / do something for free to help a colleague out. And those are the star qualities that get noticed, rewarded and ultimately bring success.
So, if you’re at a crossroads in your working life and you’re wondering how to choose between what you love and what’s practical, we have news for you. You don’t have to.