I read an article recently in the Harvard Business Review that posed the question:
“If you’re really passionate about what you do, but it’s not going to make you a lot of money, should you still do it?”
What a great question! Of course, telling someone to do what they love, and the money will follow is certainly inspiring, but is it true? Couldn’t you do what you truly care about and very well go broke?
Absolutely. I have a friend who left his high-powered corporate career to pursue his passion, and three years later he is broke and looking for work again. But that doesn’t mean he regrets his decisions or that you shouldn’t go after your dream…
Research shows that when we do something we love, or at least work towards doing something we love, we become more creative, more resourceful, and more persistent – which of course helps us get further faster. Not to mention, people who make progress every day toward something they care about (even if it’s just for fifteen minutes a day) report feeling far more satisfied and fulfilled. So doing what you love is not only uplifting, but hugely productive too.
But, let’s be real. None of this guarantees wealth, or even financial security.
And so we are back to the question: “If I have a passion that I’m pretty certain is not going to be super profitable, should I still go ahead?”
Of course you should. Here’s why:
1) Money Does Not Guarantee Happiness
More than ever, we are defined by how much we earn. But does a higher salary make us more content? No. More and more research is confirming that there is, in fact, little correlation between happiness and income. Work by the Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman indicates that a higher wage delivers little in terms of personal wellbeing – and even suggests that, above a certain point, earning more can actually cause a decrease in contentment levels. That is not to say making no money is good either – as Kahneman notes, “Money does not buy you experiential happiness, but a lack of money will probably buy you misery.” The point is “Making more money is, in itself, an empty enterprise.”
The truth is there is far more to our happiness than money. Personally I think it has much more to do with our relationships (with God and with others) than it has to do with what’s written on our paychecks.
2) Great Stories Are Told With Risk and Sacrifice
I was chatting to a friend of mine Sean Temple, who left his corporate job to pursue his passion of starting and running a functional training centre called Flux. Now most people who look at Sean would say he is “living the dream”, which he is – Flux is successful and growing. But I know it hasn’t all been plain sailing. Whenever you try something new, you’re always going to face a lot of obstacles. Most people who leave their job to earn more and work less, usually end up working more and earning less (at least in the beginning). But here’s the deal – if you had to ask Sean if it has all been worth it – I know his answer would be “Absolutely yes!”
You see, security and comfort are overrated. What matters more to us is purpose and passion.
3) It Just Might Work!
So, don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
Footnote: If you are seriously considering leaving your job and pursuing your passion full-time, I highly recommend reading Jon Acuff’s book Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job