Money is useful. If you have a steady supply of money, a lot of other parts of your life will usually be easier. But should money alone justify a career choice?
What Are You Willing to Put Up With?
If I had to, I know that I could do pretty much anything for eight hours a day, at least for a couple of years. I don’t know if I could hold out indefinitely, but I’ve had some particularly awful gigs that lasted months, without flat out quitting. I’m sure most people have found that getting through a painful job every day is possible, no matter how draining it really is.
But a job and a career are two very different things. While most people will wind up with multiple careers over the course of their lives, we’re still talking about years of doing the same thing day in and day out. No one wants to dread going to their job for years on end. On the other hand, if we’re talking about a fairly lucrative career, it seems like it should be possible to enjoy enough of your time away from work to make things balance out.
From there, it becomes a something of a question of priorities. There seems to be a growing sense that we, as people, shouldn’t have to work jobs that make us miserable — not a sentiment that peasant farmers in the Middle Ages probably could have even understood. We do have a lot more options than a farmer born a thousand years ago, of course, but it’s worth considering what our own priorities are. There are certain goals that are simply difficult to achieve unless you’re bringing home plenty of money from work. But those aren’t necessarily universal goals.
What Your Career Choices Really Mean to You
Whether or not there’s something wrong with picking out a career just on the basis of how well it will pad your bank account turns out to be something surprisingly personal. You’ll get a variety of answers if you ask different people, both if you ask if they would personally take a particular path just for the money and if you ask if they think it’s okay for other people to do it.
The ideal, of course, is to find a career that not only makes you happy but brings in plenty of money. When that’s not possible, though, you’ve got to set clear guidelines for yourself of exactly what your priorities are and how far you’re willing to go for money. It’s worth thinking about exactly what you expect from other people when they make the same decisions.
This is a topic that’s been on my mind a lot lately. My husband has a great job — one that most people would be jealous of — that he generally enjoys. But an opportunity has come up that he would enjoy more, but would earn him less money. It’s a tough choice and it’s one that I won’t tell him how to make. Depending on how he makes it, though, that decision will certainly impact both our finances and our happiness. I know how I would prefer him to make that decision, but at the same time, I want him to be able to choose his own priorities in terms of happiness at work and money earned. There’s no easy answer.