What if I want to have a job that supports and pays well, but that I genuinely like and have time to do things in my free time?
I have heard many stories of people having their dream jobs that pay, "big bucks," but then having these jobs take away a lot of time from their outside lives and take away time from things that are truly important to them, for example, family. I have also heard of people having jobs that pay extremely well, but it is not what they are interested in, or not their, "top choice," in what they would choose for their career. This is where I am conflicted for when I start to make these decisions. I want to know what different careers there are and how well they will support me, but also how much time they could potentially take away, or the values that are most important to me, such as family. Do not get me wrong, I am not saying that I will not work hard or not put my all in because I do not want to waste my time on a beneficial career, but these kind of decisions, I think, would be easier to make if we knew all of the certain criteria that is associated with each choice.
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Speaking from my personal experience, I had to go through a bit of “trial and error” to find the right balance in my life. The career I assumed I would do all through college fell flat when I got an internship my senior year. The internship was a great experience in that it helped me realize that was not the correct career path for me. Luckily, I majored in Business in college, which is a very flexible degree so I have been able to work several completely different jobs at different employers to find one that is a great balance for me and my life.
Based on my career path, I think finding that balance is a personal experience and often takes effort to find. If work-life balance is your goal, I recommend being open to making changes in your career as your life goes on. Your own desires and goals may change as well the work environment. Give different opportunities a try and see what they do for you. Internships and volunteering are a great way to experience a few things you are interested in – while there, be sure to observe and talk with all the experienced employees there to find out what their life is like. Feel free to be bold and contact people who have careers you might want to pursue and ask to interview them or shadow them for a day. Do they work long hours? Do they feel they are making the money they deserve? Do they have kids and get to enjoy plenty of family time with them?
Good luck in your future!
You're not alone, I think every generation struggles with this question and there are probably as many strategies for reaching a balance as there are people trying to achieve it. In my career, I've been worked for a number of small and large companies, at entry level through to the executive suite. I've been self employed and done consulting nationally and internationally. To be honest, I don't know anyone who has come up with a solution that lasts throughout a working lifetime. I've been very fortunate to have worked in a field and in positions I really loved. It was meaningful work, i was able to contribute to the company and in return received good compensation, benefits and a remarkable retirement plan. And for some period(s) in my career journey, I've managed to travel the world, do many of the things I wanted to do and/or pursuing my personal interests; I was not able to do both all the time.
A very wise person once told me, " You can have anything you want in this life if you are willing to pay the price." It the "anything" you want is personal time, you can always choose to "pay yourself first" and compromise on the career part of your life. I'm sure there are potential jobs in a field you like in which you can trade time for money and have significant time to yourself. But in today's competitive environment, it may be more difficult to rise in your company as others, who may make other choices or be more flexible with their time off may will move ahead of you. It's really your choice. Having significant time to do what you want is great but you'll also need the resources to do those things.
Early in my career, It seemed that if I had the time to do things I didn't have the resources. If I had the resources, I didn't have the time. But later, I sometimes I had time and resources and did get to do those things and in my case, it was getting to a career point where I had security and stability.
I have yet to discover a position that offered security, satisfaction and high wages/profits that was easy, did not require a significant effort and an investment of time. That said, there is an old saying that states, "a person who gets to do the work he or she loves, never works a day in their life".
I love to travel, I like good food and wine. For about six years I was vice president and on the board of an international travel catering organization. We met in a different country almost every month. Part of my duties, involved finding locations, planning menus and event planning for conferences and trade shows. A lot of the activity was in Europe and Asia. I visited many cities, sampled some of the best chefs' creations; as part of the planning, we would visit wineries to sample and negotiate price with makers. So in my "work" I was able to incorporate my personal and professional interests. My wife was also in Europe completing her MBA for a week each month. We would try to coordinate schedules, meet in different cities and would spend long weekends there after completing my work. She now has a PHD and teaches, speaks and does research in many locations from Orlando (today) to Abu Dahbi (next month). Now I travel to meet her. Our lives have been wound around each others activities for many years. You learn how to make things work out as you go along. We rarely take traditional "vacations" although we spend significant time in New York City where there are lots of activities we like but don't require us to travel far. If you start in the general direction you love, and keep building your life in that direction, you may be able to find that balance as we have. It is indeed possible.
I've also had many years of work in transportation operations, design and services. For a large part of my career I was on call 24/7. That also had its rewards.....and challenges......So enjoy things when they are going well while they last (they will not always go well), hang in there when they don't and remain confident that nothing remains constant very long. Your ability to be flexible, confidence in your own ability and choices you make will pave your path to the future. Be sure to chose wisely!
Very best to you,
Donald recommends the following next steps:
Finding a job that you genuinely like is most likely to be trial and error. I was very interested in mental health when I first got out of college with a Master's in Social Work. My first two jobs were working in an inpatient psychiatric setting, but I quickly realized that mental health was not what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. It took me 3 different jobs to finally find where I felt like I belonged, in oncology social work. With the right education, you can get a job that pays well. Finding a job that you actually like is a lot harder. My advice is to choose a career that allows for you to work in a variety of settings. If you get a job in one setting and find that it isn't for you, go somewhere else. As far as finding a job that pays well, that is all a matter of priorities. The jobs that pay extremely well (doctor, lawyer, etc) also tend to come with extensive education; this means lots of money owed at the end of it, unless you are fortunate enough to either be wealthy or get scholarships. My cousin is a lawyer, and she makes very good money. She also graduated with over $100,000 in student loans for law school alone. Find a career that you will enjoy, and make your life work around what you get paid.
My career as a physical therapist has allowed me to maintain a great work-life balance. I have a rewarding, challenging job that I love but also have time for my life outside of work. I am able to earn a good salary without my life being consumed with work.
Christine recommends the following next steps: