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Careers and Happiness: Do They Go Hand in Hand?

I tire of the oft-heard advice that you need to find a career you love in order to really enjoy living. Almost Fearless recently wrote about her upcoming move to Spain. She sold most of her stuff, quit her 9-5 job, and is just about ready to make the transition to a new country, job, and language. Admittedly I’m impressed. Many people only day dream of making such a leap, content to sit at their desk on a Wed. afternoon wondering “Wouldn’t it be nice to….?” She received one such comment in response:

‚ÄúTraveling is good if you enjoy traveling, you might also want to consider finding a career that you enjoy doing. Then there will not be a need for such escapism. I enjoy traveling, but also enjoy my work.”

I’m not so sure this rings true. I work in Financial Services and I genuinely like what I do. The fact that I have a job isn’t really the issue, it’s that much of what I do in my day to day life revolves around work. The fact that you work for 5 days straight, only to get 2 left for yourself, is a lopsided equation. You should be spending your time doing things you love, something you receive fulfillment and enjoyment out of, but only for the amount of time that it serves this purpose.

At some point, as with anything, diminishing returns sets in. Let’s take a hobby as an example. You love to…garden, there we go. You’re a gardener and you think gardening is the best thing ever, so you garden quite a bit, an hour here and hour there everyday. After awhile you think wouldn’t it be great to able to be a professional gardener? So you get a job over at longwood gardens, and you can garden to your heart’s content. The first couple weeks are great, the next couple weeks are good, and the couple weeks after that…..things start to get a little tiresome. You’re tired of watering the same flowers and pruning the same bushes day in and day out for 8 hours of your day..you want a change.

The problem with a job is that you are forced to do something even if you don’t want to. Don’t feel like crunching the numbers today as an accountant? Too bad. What if I don’t feel like setting up a dealer agreement between our fund family and Bank of America? Out of luck.

Part of the reason so many PF bloggers yearn for financial independence is the ability to do what they want, when they want it. Christine has worked long and hard, planned accordingly, and now has the ability to do just that. If she is tired of working at her current job (she is), she can go and do something else, like move to Spain and try her hand at photography and writing. I hope that as I build up my alternate income and have a safety net of diversified sources, I’ll have the ability to choose what I want to do any given time, too. A lot of people tend to forget that.

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