Choosing Work: Love Or Money?

When you set out to choose your occupation, should you choose a higher paying job or work that you love? I never questioned it myself. I couldn’t imagine spending eight to ten hours a day for thirty years doing work that I hated or merely tolerated. I looked for work that if I didn’t love it, I at least liked. I started to wonder about how other people choose work, however, after a friend recently spent a ton of money on pharmacy school and then informed me that he hated it.

“I hated pharmacy before I even applied to school,” he said. “But I knew I wanted to make a lot of money and, with the aging of the senior bracket, I knew that there would be a big market fo

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14 Responses to Choosing Work: Love Or Money?

  1. Rose says:

    I must thank you for writing this. I’m on the cusp of leaving a well-paying job for a lower paying one in an area of the country where my cost of living will be lower, but so will my wages. I’m in complete agreement with you about spending your days doing something you at least like, so I’ve only been a little nervous about this decision. Your column today was like getting a sign that everything will be all right – I’ll not only make enough to live just fine, I’ll be so much happier than I am in the overpopulated hell-hole that is South Florida! Thank you again.

  2. BlackDiamond says:

    I couldn’t hate something that paid me a lot. I’d be willing to do just about anything if it meant I had more money. Then again, I think money can buy happiness because without money, there’d be no entertainment, travel or any of the other stuff that is important to me.

  3. snshijuptr says:

    My husband and I both agreed to pursue jobs that we could happily continue in until we die. I may not enjoy every minute of grad school right now, but I’m working my mind furiously and that makes me happy. Afterward I will get a job that I enjoy more fully. Hopefully my enjoyment will grow throughout life.

    Watching my father practically kill himself in a job he hated only to be replaced and find work he loved at less pay, I know that I want to work something I love.

  4. Rachel McTague says:

    One professional I know who sees many clients and gets to know them pretty well told me that about 95% of his clients do work that they do not love, but do it for the money. The other 5% are lucky enough to be working at something they love. Money, as one commenter suggested, buys lots of fun and freedom in the hours that you don’t work. It is unrealistic for most people to look and look for a job that they “love.”

  5. I personally couldn’t work at something I hated for 10-15 years unless it was an amazing paycheck… but I believe that life is there to profit from, not to suffer from.

    I also don’t believe in retirement though because I don’t want to sit around and do nothing ;) Getting out of the “rat race” is enough!

  6. Jaime says:

    Like the article said, I think there is some balance to be achieved. You don’t necessarily have to love your job, but to actually hate your work and just be in it for the money … no thanks. I could see it if it was just for a year or two, but there are very few jobs that can pay you enough in that amount of time to free you for the rest of your life. I would also worry that I’d get hit by a car crossing the street during that time and have wasted my life. Just as you shouldn’t go overboard saving and put off every little enjoyment in life in order to save for the future, you can’t totally ignore your present enjoyment to pursue money.

  7. Stephan says:

    I think ideally you should get a job that you do love, but the reality is that not many jobs pay enough to fulfill your dreams, so you have to take on a job that pays better but does not match your interests. Its a game of give and take, sacrifice a little of your snaity for 50 weeks a year for a little more spending money for those 2 weeks of vacation=)

  8. Squirrelers says:

    This is an excellent article.

    Always remember – you might be able to make more money, but you can’t make more time. I espouse the HWR framework – health, wealth, and relationship as being interrelated.

  9. A few alternatives to being miserable:

    1) Figure out why you’re miserable; it might not actually be the nature of the work you do. Perhaps it’s because you dont’ like your boss or a coworker. Perhaps you haven’t taken enough time off lately. Perhaps you aren’t being challenged or growing in your chosen field. Perhaps it’s been too long since a pay raise or other financial incentive. Perhaps you and the coworkers need to just go out for a happy hour. Find ways to get out of your rut for a minute, then when you return you will have a more attuned sense for whether you really are (or aren’t) happy.

    2) Broaden your interests a bit and focus on changing your attitude. Perhaps there is something about your job that you CAN like. After all, the attitude and temperament of your fellow employees make up a large part of your overall job satisfaction.

    3) Learn what it is about your job you don’t like (and what you do like) and pursue job movement that goes along those lines. Learn what it is that you enjoy, then find opportunities in or out of your company that lean toward the parts of your job that you like.

    A wise person told me that job satisfaction comes with 3 factors 1) you believe in what you’re doing 2) you enjoy the people you’re doing it with and 3) you feel you are compensated fairly for it.

  10. Karthick says:

    I will choose the higher paying job. The second theory will not work for me.

  11. Monkey Mama says:

    The answer to this, is balance. My dad wanted to be a “TV repairman” and a college counselor gave him the wisest advice – get an engineering degree. I grew up with a parent who LOVED his job and was paid well for it.

    When I showed interest in being a bookkeeper, my parents encouraged me to get my CPA license. I could have pushed it and became a CFO, but ending up somewhere in the middle meant a relatively low stress job that I love, with good pay. Balance! (In fact, my current job is more bookkeeping than anything, but I get paid 2-3 times bookkeeper wages). My parents SO stressed practicality and passion – both. Of course, my spouse’s passion is more low paying (teaching or arts), but I know if he is happy and passionate about it, he can turn it into success. I think it is far more important to LOVE what you do. The money will follow, if you enjoy your work. (Or, the money simply doesn’t matter so much).

    On the flip side, being in the accounting field, it is a field that a LOT of people choose for the money. I haven’t seen too many people that has worked out for. I have strongly discouraged many people over the years from going the accounting route because it’s “easy” (cheap education) and “high paying.” The miserable ones burn out fast, and the ones who don’t enjoy numbers simply can not do the job. Ironically, I find it is a profession with like minded people who love their job. No one else makes it past the first year or 2. It’s just a field I haven’t seen miserable people succeeding at, personally. Which more strongly puts me in the “a job you hate isn’t very worthwhile” camp.

  12. Bryan Cooper says:

    I work with folks and their finances and a majority of them hate their job. Those who hate their job feel extremely trapped because they hate their job and they have a mess with their finances. It is tough to stay focused to dig out of a financial mess when you are miserable financially and occupationally.

    Those who I work with who love their job usually don

  13. Susan says:

    Wow, this is really a timely article. I have been very blessed to have a job I absolutely love. The hours are great, the pay is sufficient and the team of employees are far above par. I agree with the comment made about being a volunteer. If times are financially hard for you, they are always harder for someone else. If you cannot find “passion from your profits” then help others in need. Move through your rough patch financially by being of service to those who are even less fortunate. Find your joy!!

  14. bethuel kiprop says:

    i personally think that you should work with somethin you love and not something not part of you at any instance because you will tend to work better with what you love than what you dislike

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