Growing up, I had a good understanding of the value of money. My middle class parents always made my family feel we would never go without, but also instilled in me that it takes hard work to make money.
It was this combination that led me to believe that if I work hard enough at something I enjoy, I can make a viable career out of it.
I decided long ago, that if I’m not doing a job I love, it doesn’t matter how good the money seems, I don’t want to pursue it further.
I think it’s obvious that my loyalties lie on the side of the spectrum that yells “follow your passion!” But is this good advice?
Most of us are led to believe that money buys happiness. A degree in the arts won’t make you money and your much better off going into something stable like finance. Is this all true?
Does money really buy happiness? Are we making a mistake when we decide to follow our passions?
How do we know if we’re making the right choice to do the financially sound thing vs doing what makes us happy?
The argument to follow the money
This is the advice Mark Cuban would give you, and he seems like a pretty reliable source considering his net worth is $4.1 Billion.
Cuban actually speaks pretty openly about how he thinks that following your passion is terrible advice
Instead he suggests that you put time into what your good at because, “I will give you a little secret nobody quits anything they are good at because it’s fun to be good. It is fun to be one of the best”
According to cuban the secret to success is to look at where you’re putting your efforts and seeing the biggest impact from those efforts. Where you are seeing the biggest impact continue in that direction.
The argument to follow your passion
On the flip-side of that, you could start with passion and learn to make money from it. Entrepreneur Lainey Morse did precisely that when she came up with the idea of goat yoga.
The story goes like this; Morse was going through a hardship. She was getting divorced and, at the same time, she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. With her life falling apart, the only place she felt whole was on the farm. It made her feel whole, she invited her friends over to indulge in the comfort of the farm when someone suggested the idea of doing yoga, “but the goats would be all over the humans” Morse laughed. Her friends response “cool”. Not long after, her goat yoga classes took off in a way Morse couldn’t have even imagined.
The business wasn’t easy, there were many obstacles, it almost seemed like an uphill battle some days, but Morse stuck with it she followed her passion and she created a thriving business. People come from all over the world to take her classes.
Morse loved her goats, she loved being outdoors, she took a shot in following her passion… and it worked.
Now she lives out her dream of teaching yoga classes with goats while simultaneously raking in 6 figures.
The interesting thing to note here is the common thread between both of these stories and the lessons to be learned.
It doesn’t matter if you start with money or start with passion what’s important is that you find the work that you do interesting or meaningful. If you follow the money make sure that you can also love the job that makes you the money. If you follow your passion make sure that you can turn that passion into a profit, because a passion that brings no income is a hobby. Which is fine, but we’re talking about careers here!
Buddha said to, “choose a job that you love and you will never work a day in your life”. Buddha also gave up all of his wealth to go sit under a tree and meditate. If I had the self-awareness that Buddha had I probably wouldn’t be questioning whether or not money is more important than passion.
Buddha was far more enlightened than I, but still, I can’t help but think his logic is slightly flawed. Even the things we love can be difficult and feel like hard work sometimes. The goal isn’t to avoid work, but to work in a way that feels meaningful and gives you a sense of purpose.
It is unlikely that you will live up to Buddha’s “never work a day in your life” philosophy no matter what career path you choose. Loving every part of your job every single day isn’t realistic.
I do hope that whatever you do it’s something that helps you to discover passion in a way that propels your dreams forward and allows you to create a life that you feel both satisfied and challenged by. Something that you find both purposeful and profitable, and that on most days feels less like a job and more like a lifestyle choice.