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Do What you Love for a Living? Forget That!

I’ve read quite a bit about careers. I went through the “career center” at my school to try and find what it is I’d like to do for a living once I got out. Given my knack for computers they suggested programming, but I don’t have the inclination to stare at my monitor for 8 hours a day coding all the while. I enjoy building and creating things, certainly, but that simply isn’t what I had in mind. I floundered for a few months after graduating, until settling into a contractor position at Vanguard. The job and work was a bit boring as a processing associate, but the more I read about the instruments and the markets, the more fascinated I became. As time went on I realized that a job choice wasn’t going to fall from the sky, and so I settled into the Financial Services Industry where I currently work.

But do I love it?

On one hand there are plenty of positives that go with my job. I like the people I work with, drama is a minimum, there isn’t anyone in my team who is a real slacker. I do feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of my day, but there’s always something to do tomorrow. Often-times I get a wanderlustish (I made that word up) feeling of “is this it?” Do I want to be at my desk, happily following the financial markets and relaying that information to brokers and clients so they can make better investment decisions? Will I love it 5 years down the road? What about diminishing returns?

So naturally I like to keep in touch with what others have chosen for their careers and what they do to keep things fresh, interesting, and away from “the daily grind” (A term I despise). I recently read an article by Penelope Trunk, who had this to say:

“Relationships make your life great, not jobs.  But  a job can ruin your life – make you feel out of control in terms of your time or your ability to accomplish goals –  but no job will make your life complete. It’s a myth mostly propagated by people who tell you to do what you love. Doing what you love will make you feel fulfilled. But you don’t need to get paid for it”

To this end I agree. A job does not define who we are, or at the very least should not. I have to try hard not to bring it up as an opener when meeting new people, a habit I dislike. I also think that is one of my overlapping goals when creating new streams of income.In so many aspects of our lives we are told to diversify, to broaden your horizons, to not put your eggs in one basket. By focusing on one job, one career, one source of income, you open a chink in your financial armor. You should always have a contingency source, you need a safety net of an emergency fund, investment income, and even sidework or survey income.

Doing what you love is simply not always a feasible career option, and if you want to spend more of your time doing that than working, you can work towards that end. I love skiing, for example, but I don’t have the proper build to be a professional skier (and I’m sure much of the fun of it would be gone, at that point!). By creating residual (my favorite word!) sources of income, you can afford to work less if you so choose. Investing in real estate, stocks, or a small business like those suggested at Genius Types, you can afford to free up your time to do the things that you love.

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