For Love or Money? What Should Drive Your Goals?

One of my health IT colleagues has a really great blog where she dives into the inner core of humanity. Today, she asked the question “For Love or Money? What Should Drive Your Goals?” Her post is a fascinating look at people’s decision to either chase a career based on their passion or people who chase a career because it makes a lot of money. She provides two quotes which frame the question quite well:

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.” – Maya Angelou

“Whatever you like to do, make it a hobby and whatever the world likes to do, make it a business.” – Warren Buffett

To add to the conversation, I would offer some different advice to what she offers. First, learn to live modestly so that you can pursue your passion. There’s nothing worse than taking on $200k of student loans when your passion is to become a teacher. It turns out that a teacher with an Ivy League education gets paid the same as someone who goes to the local community college and a state school. The financial choices we make early in life will open or shut doors to us pursuing our passion as a career.

Second, learn to find passion in whatever you do. Happiness is a choice. Making the most of a challenging situation is a choice. I still remember working at Wendy’s for 2 years. For the first 6 months to a year, they only ever put me on fries. Yes, I literally spent 6 months to a year as the fry boy at Wendy’s. Most people would have hated working at Wendy’s at all, but fry boy was one of the worst jobs you could get and 6 months on fries would drive most people mad.

Personally, I mostly enjoyed it. In fact, that’s probably why I was stuck on fries for so long. Everyone else would hem and haw about how bad it was. I made the most of what many could consider a tough situation and became master of the fries. I don’t list fry boy on my resume anymore, but my ability to make the most of a challenging situation is certainly reflected in my career. Ironically, I sometimes miss working at Wendy’s. I was fascinated by the process and ways to improve the process. I don’t miss the pay and thankfully I’ve found higher paying jobs that leverage these same skills, but I could be just as passionate a fry boy today as I was when I was 16.

The reality is that I’ve enjoyed every job I’ve ever had. It’s not a burden for me to go to work. Sure, there are days I’m more motivated than others, but I generally am excited by work. I think that’s because I find passion in what I’m doing as opposed to assuming I already know what I’m passionate about.

I guess like my friend, I’m somewhere in the middle of Follow Your Passion and Follow the Money. Passions make great hobbies and it’s great when our job is our passion, but we need to be careful to assume we can only have one passion. We can and do have many passions. We can’t integrate all of our passions in our work, so some of our passions will have to be hobbies. Embrace that you have multiple passions as opposed to complaining that your work isn’t your passion. However, don’t be surprised if those hobbies sometimes turn into careers.