When we were young, our ambitions were simple. Do what we’re interested in. When we grew older and had to buy our first meal, things changed. Money is important simply because everything has a price. Thus was born the dilemma of work – to do it for passion or the paycheck?
It’s an eternal struggle for almost everyone out there. You’ll always see someone who earns more, someone who loves their job more, someone who is happier than you. And that is when you question yourself – why do you work?
It’s a very noble reason to be working for passion, because it hearkens back to a more idealistic time of your life, when a career meant doing something you loved. But passion doesn’t always equate to success, materialistically or otherwise.
That’s because the reason for work is altruistic – you do your job because you want to. And because of that, so much of yourself is invested in your work that success is so much sweeter, but failures will sting harder and closer to the heart than if you did your job for a paycheck.
We all have to pay our dues, and when our failures accumulate, it’s natural to look on the other side of the fence. See all our peers who work purely for income. And realise that their salaries are so much higher than your own. There will come a time in your life when you equate your self worth to your net worth. And you will ask yourself: is this worth it?
Working for cold, hard cash is the answer, then. It’s a practical, respectable reason for work. Our parents had only one rationale for employment, to support themselves and their families. Indirectly, or directly, they’ve passed that mentality to us. Working for money is good, moral, a Confucian ethic.
Except that that the money has a cost. Your time. You are using time to pay for your money. Time that could be used to pursue your interests. To spend time with loved ones. Most importantly, time that could be used to develop yourself as a person.
It’s nice to have this nest egg. But one day you’ll look at your bank account, and you’ll wonder if it’s all worth it when other people seem to be happier doing what they’re passionate about, for so much less.
Passion or Paycheck?
The reasons for work are not so binary, of course. Other people stay on in their companies because they love their colleagues and the environment. Some stay in their jobs simply because they don’t know what else to do. Many stay and work because the company offers them good work life balance.
But all happy people have one thing in common. They know what’s important to them and they pursue them. You see, no two people are alike. Money may be important to me, but interest may be more important to you. Having time to spend with family may be important to a one, but good colleagues may be more important to another.
Read also: Find Meaning in Your Job
What’s Important to You?
Different people value different things in life. Sports, friends, family, religion, money, passion, power, prestige – the list goes on. It’s identifying what’s important to you that is the key to your happiness. The question isn’t whether to work for passion or the paycheck, but whether you’re working to fufill the goals that make you happy.
Ask yourself what’s important to you. If you don’t know, try. It’s OK to make mistakes, to try every possible reason to work, and to not have all the answers. That’s what life is about. But once you know what’s important to you, everything will fall in place.
And then you won’t just be working for passion or the paycheck. You’ll be working for your own happiness.