As recruiters, Hr Pros and yes, even the lowly marketing vendors who work in our space (ahem) we want people to be happy. We want to see them get jobs, excel, succeed and all of that. So often, from the stage at a commencement speech, in an inspiring speaker’s main slide, in a blogger’s yearly editorial rotation, you’ll hear the phrase “Do what you love and the money will follow”.
Some say that it’s a total crock and that doing what you love isn’t really viable as a career choice.
Others say pursuing something simply for the dollah dollah bills will get you nowhere and quickly.
But for the most part, the debate stagnates with a tentative “sure?” when youngsters like this one ask the question. Even the fellows over at Harvard Business Review seemed unsure as to how to definitively answer the question. Commenters were even further divided.
Over at The Cynical Girl, Laurie Ruettimann recommends trying a new job and a new life before getting caught in the “consumer cycle” and you simply have to make all that money. A more relaxed economy makes that a simpler choice than in recent years.
The truth is, virtually anything you love can be made into a career but can it be turned into a lucrative career? That is the question. And the reason that no one can provide a suitable answer is because human beings are…different.
What propels one person to jump out of a plane? Start a new business? End a failed relationship? Stay in the same terrible job for 30 years? Move across country? Pursue their dream in New York or Hollywood?
We have always had people willing to pursue their dreams at the potential peril of their current and future finances. Consider this heated debate on living and working in NYC, sparked by recent TV series Girls, penned by Lena Durham. Should parents support their children’s dreams financially? Are they obligated to? We all have the desire to follow our dreams but do we have the right?
From time immemorial, artists have been the ones to strike out and find funding (patron of the arts anyone) wherever it lurked. But for every Raphael there is a talented artist who died wracked with syphillis and mental illness and broke, probably in a canal somewhere. Following your dreams CAN be lucrative and support your family, but it can end in misery and heartbreak.
Lest this post end with everyone thinking I am crazy downer, I’ll offer you two stories from my own arsenal (not a big one for saying that just because this is my experience it must be everyone’s but hey anecdotes aren’t the worst…):
Anecdote #1: When I was in college, I got pregnant. It was my sophomore year and I was straight trippin’. Once I get my head around staying in school and not “continuing a cycle of poverty and grinding repetition” (this was my mother’s term for dropping our of school and working full time) I went straight to the counselor’s office and changed my major from Fine Arts (Creative Writing) to Marketing Communications. Yes, I would still be writing. No, it was no longer possible to consider writing my first novella in the Catskills post graduation and I knew it. I’m no genius, but I knew at 19 that I could align what I loved doing with what was profitable. Of course, the desire to write a novel has never died and I have 23 drafts of the first five chapters a book on this very computer.
Anecdote #2: When I was a young wife, student and mother, I excelled at decorating our adorable little house with mistints, fabric remnants and thrift store finds. I thought I was pretty clever and so did an interior decorator friend, who hired me on immediately at her firm. At first the job was a dream- Look! I was doing what I love and getting paid very well to do it! My clients loved me and my designs…until it was time to be a project manager to disparate crews, specialty artisans and seamstresses and rely on shipments that weren’t always reliable. I began to dread what would go wrong with the next client (and something always did). By the time I had my third child I decided that doing what I loved, wasn’t all it cracked up to be.
So…it sort of sounds like I’m doing a really good job of not answering the question. But I think the answer (like a lot of things) really is something that seems more at home on a bumper sticker than a marketing blog and that is “Be True to Yourself”. And that means your whole self, the one that has a family and obligations or the one who can’t handle the six figure job one more day. Realize that being true to your professional dream may mean sacrificing other dreams like a huge, nicely decorated home or private schools for the kids. It may mean moving to Omaha and painting your front door pink and being a sculptor. It may mean 26/52 weeks away from your kiddos to seal the executive deal. The best advice I ever EVER heard was:
“you can have it all, just not all at once…”