College Advice Blog

Nov 14, 2013

Follow the Heart or Follow the Money?

More QuestionsCertainty and uncertainty are two forces that everyone experiences. And it is our response to these two forces that can set the course of our destiny. Take work as an example. Does the security of a job that pays the bills outweigh the uncertainty of pursing a dream job? Or is an uncertain financial future just part and parcel of pursuing a dream and living your passion? There are people who have risked it all to make their passion their vocation, and some have become extremely successful because of it. There are legitimate arguments for both sides; however, the truth may well lie somewhere in the middle.

Think Before Jumping
A 2013 Gallup's poll revealed that only 30 percent of employees feel inspired or engaged in their job. Fifty-two percent of employees expressed minimal excitement about their work, and another 18 percent felt disengaged from their jobs. But leaving full-time employment to pursue a passion deserves careful reflection and planning. 

Is the passion real, or is it more of a superficial desire that has been constructed as a distraction from the mundane? Dave Evans, a life instructor at Stanford University states, "It's much better to have an accurate awareness that you don't know your passion than to have an erroneous confidence in a false passion, which is a common result of people trying too hard to concoct one in order to be okay. The day a false passion is unmasked can be a pretty difficult one." 

To give up the security of a job in order to follow a dream is one thing; to leave a job only to discover that the dream job is not what you expected, is another. Further, hanging on to secured employment provides options, affording the time and the ability to research and reflect. Additionally, your current position may have transferable skills that could be used later on. This is especially true for those who are new to the job market. 

Beware of Skeptics
Despite all the rational reasons to stick with a job for security, there is another school of thought that believes the paralysis of analysis prevents taking action for a more fulfilled life. Tama Kieves left her law career to become a writer. Her advice is take passions seriously. If the thought of turning passions into employment leads to feeling energized, then trust it. Latent potential and future success could be squandered if you give in to fear and doubt. She also warns against waiting for a well-defined vision before pursuing a dream, noting that predicting the twists and turns of life is impossible. Rather, she places emphasis on both passion and ability. 

The Middle Way
In the end, people who can handle uncertainty are more likely to leave their nine-to-five jobs and pursue their passions, while those to crave security will more likely settle for a steady paycheck. But perhaps there is way to blend some certainty with uncertainty. When considering pursuing your dream job, take time for research and reflection. Ask yourself important questions: How real is the desire to pursue the dream job? Do I possess the ability to do the job and do it well? Is it possible to earn enough income to live on? Explore ways to pursue your passions as a side job. As the dream job takes shape, you may be able to wean yourself off your regular job.

About the Author
This article was provided by Mike Wallace, recent college graduate and small business owner. If your dreams are in the tech industry, Mike suggests studying for the A+ certification to give you a competing edge in the job market. 

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