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Is it wise to pursue a career that is more likely to make you happy than make you a lot of money?

I've always been interested in the sciences, and up until recently I was almost 100% sure I was going to go into microbiology and get a job with the US Navy medical division. That still sounds really interesting and cool, but I don't know if I want to spend the rest of my life staring at cultures in a lab, y'know? I also recently started writing more and found out that I'm not too bad at it and that it makes me happy. I've written some sports articles for the school and city newspapers and really feel like I could spend the rest of my life doing, like, investigative journalism or something. I know a bunch of people who went to college for journalism/literature and didn't get the job they wanted. They're not making much money, are stuck in some dead-beat small town newspaper, and basically aren't having a lot of fun. I guess what I'm asking is what would be a good career/degree path for me to pursue that would let me do what I love while still earning enough to support myself and my family in the future?
#financial-planning #salary #money #passion #career-choice

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Katherine’s Answer

Consider the Japanese concept of "Ikigai," which means "a reason for being." If you look it up, you'll find images of a venn diagram that illustrates the relationship and overlap between 1) what you LOVE, 2) what you're GOOD AT, 3) what the WORLD NEEDS, and 4) what you can be PAID FOR. Between those four choices, you can either achieve passion, mission, profession, or vocation. But the combination of them all is ultimately what you're meant to be. Study this for a while and think really deeply and hard about what it means to be you. What can you do to contribute to the world and also grow as a person?

So to answer your question while keeping this concept in mind, yes it is wise to pursue something that makes you money (that's the way the world works), but your initial concern shouldn't be "a lot of money." Many have made the mistake of making a beeline for a job that guaranteed a handsome paycheck, but have lost sight of what is actually truly fulfilling. Make money doing something that you find fulfilling: writing about things that matter to you and to an audience that cares, and that can earn you some money.

The only thing that can make you happy is yourself. If you depend on a career to make you happy, then you're putting your happiness in someone or something else's hands!

If you're curious, I recommend reading a couple of essays and maybe listening to a few podcasts by The Minimalists. My favorite is episode #13. They make great points and offer valuable perspectives on pursuing a mission/direction in life. In addition, one of the Minimalists is a writer and he provides great tips on how he became one. Remember, nothing will be easy or happen overnight. "Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life" - Jerzy Gregorek

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Atul’s Answer

I agree with Craig’s answer. It makes sense to do both at same time if you can. Work satisfaction is good but it won't make you happy if you have to compromise at many points because of less earnings.

Earn from occupation which gives you good bank balance figure and work on your hobbies. I had a colleague who used to be IT professional during week days and a musician on weekends. Eventually, he started to earn good money as musician as well.

Love what you do and do what you love.

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Mike’s Answer

Very good question. I'll give a bit of a different perspective here than the others. I know many people who chose a career path strictly based on what they liked doing in their spare time. Due to the fact that they had to do it all day, every day, they grew to resent those interests if they weren't making good money.

So my advice would be to take a hard look at your hobby (writing), do some research on what those with 10.years of experience are making (like journalists) and then decide whether that is acceptable to you. Otherwise, go for something more marketable and keep writing as a hobby.

I will mention that the other answer that said they were able to use their gained skills to pivot into something later had a great point. You could find that you love writing as a career, but then become a science writer down the line for a Pharma company, etc. There are many avenues other than journalism. There is also no shame in trying something out and changing your career later. It's your life!

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Hailey’s Answer

This question is amazing - many adults are still asking this question their whole life. For your situation if you like science and writing there are many amazing career opportunities where you could write about science. Personally, I went the route of pursuing the career path I loved (which didn't always pay much), and then learned that my skill set could transition into a career that made much more money when I looked at it from a different angle. I think being open to different possibilities and thinking outside the box will usually bring you the happiness and career you crave. Try different jobs, as you learn and grow, the more you will learn what makes you the most happy. For some people it's money, for others it's time or family. The wise thing is to find the happy moments of any job. Many people can't do that and it makes all the difference.

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Craig’s Answer

Why choose? You can do both. Choose a career that you love and that also has the potential to make a lot of money. For example, if you like writing, sports and science, then become a writer that focuses on the science of sports. How about working at a tech or bio startup? Or start your own company.. How about getting involved in the field of sports medicine? You could also do something sales, marketing, management for a company that is involved in sports, science, journalism, etc.

Be creative and try different things. I bet you can find your dream career if you're willing to work hard and courageous enough to take on the challenge.