This is THE question, right? When it comes to your career, or even your life in general, the big question mark is this one: Pursue what you love or be safe and go for the job that actually pays the bills? The more you advance in life and acquire things (read: mortgage, cars, shoes and purses you don’t need), and the more people you’re responsible for, the more it seems you should settle for the latter option.
Some of you may not even be sure what your passion really is, or if you even have one. Others wouldn’t know where to start to tap into their passions, skills and talents. And for the rest, well, they may just be too tired to even begin the whole process of answering this question.
I know I’ve asked myself the question countless times, and at times, I still do. I was raised in a conservative, single-parent household run by my single mom in Senegal. My siblings and I grew up with a clear understanding that if we wanted to make it in this life, we’d have to go for stability. Forget the big adventure of following our passions.
Why do so few of us take the time to figure it out?
In college, I was always looking at other students taking a sabbatical year or a year abroad with a mix of wonder and envy. How could they even afford to take some time off to explore their wants, or take some time to reflect? There were degrees to be had, jobs to be held, money to be made, bills to be paid…And shoes to be bought occasionally too…
Especially as an immigrant, I never thought there was room, time or space to devote to anything else than working and building a stable nest. Pursuing talents, skills and passions was for rich kids with trust funds, or those who roamed freely on the surface of this Earth with no sense of obligation or duty. For the rest of us, there were responsibilities, commitments and obligations galore to attend to. From making rent to making our families proud, it was all about doing the “right, sensible thing, and making money in the process.
Is Money All There is?
Money was the big equalizer, that financial equilibrium that could bring us closer to our dreams. After all, if you didn’t have money, how could you find fulfillment on an empty stomach? Yet, as the reality of daily started to settle in, it felt like no matter how materially satisfied we may be, that didn’t necessarily equate with fulfillment. Actually, the more materially satisfied we are without pursuing what really matters to us, the more depleted we tend to feel.
So What Makes Us Start Thinking Differently?
Then, as close friends and family members leave this life, the reality that we’re not going to be here forever hits us in squarely in the face. We start understanding that time, and not money, is our most precious commodity. That there may very well be a reason why we were put on this Earth, and are given the privilege to wake up and keep breathing every single day.
Should we just forego all idea of stability?
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in stability. Stability is good. Safety is comforting. I love the idea of a full bank account, a prolific retirement account and the security of having more than enough. Yet at some point between losing people I dearly love and realizing my own mortality, I started believing more in actually enjoying life. Not in a desperate, “let-me-get-all-I-can-while-I’m-here” kind of way. But in a purposeful, intentional way that says “I know I’m here for a reason. I know I was created for a purpose, and I need to find out why and go do that.”
So maybe more of us should be taking that year off in college to travel the world, or just think about what we really want out of life. Maybe it’s not a luxury just reserved for the trust fund kids, or those who roam freely on the surface of this Earth. Maybe taking the time to know who we are and why we are here is actually a necessity.
This doesn’t mean that we should quit our jobs tomorrow and go sailing on the Mediterranean seas. Or that we shouldn’t worry about stable incomes, debt repayment and keeping our credit scores intact. What this means is that as we make a living, we should also make a life. That money is important, but should not be the ultimate priority of our life journeys.
What should we do then?
So should you pursue what you love or keep a stable job? If you’re asking yourself the question today, you should do neither right away. What you can do is stop, take a deep breath and answer the following questions for yourself:
- Are you fulfilled?
Really fulfilled, as in, waking up with this sense of being full and overflowing of the goodness of this life. Or are you heavy, burdened with responsibilities, and dreading the day/month/year ahead?
No one other than you knows the answer to this question, and no one can help you answer it. This is where you look inward and be honest with yourself about how you feel.
- Why are you here?
Purpose is not an illusion, it’s a reality. I believe we all have a purpose, a reason to be. Or many for that matter. What’s yours? Why are you here?
This is a tough question to answer, unless you have a vision and goals for your life. If you don’t, take some time to explore the activities and things that bring you the most joy and peace. You’ll find your answer.
- What do you need to get there?
It’s one thing to realize that you are or are not fulfilled enough. Or to take hold of what your purpose is. However, we live in a practical world that requires you to devise a plan to get to wherever you may be going.
What will you need to achieve your purpose and find fulfillment? What does that mean for you spiritually, emotionally, relationship-wise and financially? Determine if it will require you to save more money, leave some relationships, address some gaps in your personality, and start tackling these one at a time.
Now your turn: Do you believe you should pursue what you love or keep a stable job?
To Your Success,
The Corporate Sis
Author: Solange Lopes
Solange is the founder of The Corporate Sister, as well as an author, entrepreneur and CPA. She’s passionate about helping women do work they love, build fulfilling careers and living life on their own terms.