In the perfect world, you could make a ton of money doing what you love – enough money to do everything you might want to do in your life. Unfortunately, the real world is rarely like that. Many of us have experienced the feeling of not being able to follow every dream in our lives. We want to be the kind of person who can afford a penthouse suite in New York City or who can buy tickets to travel the world, but we also want to take that art class, join a band with some buddies, or spend a summer teaching backpacking skills to kids. Oftentimes, it seems like the most interesting jobs pay the least money.
At any point in your life, you have a choice – do you want to put energy toward a high-money job that you might not be so interested in, or do you want to follow a career path that won’t get you rich, but that lets you feel like you’re doing something important or fun?
It’s a difficult question for anybody. Of course, it’s easy enough to say, “just follow your dreams and worry about the money later!” That works until you’re on a date, and you know you could score points by saying, “don’t worry, I’ll get it,” but then you think about your bank account and realize you’re broke. Or you’re thinking about buying that new car, or putting a down payment on a house, and you realize that you’ve been following your dreams, playing guitar in a local band while you spend your days working retail, and you simply don’t have the money.
Money isn’t everything, but it definitely opens some doors that you might want to open. When you’re choosing between pursuing a career that makes you money and pursuing a career you love, you have to ask two questions. First, what sort of house, car, family and future do you want for yourself when you’re middle-aged? Second, do you care more about that future than you do about following your present dreams? Pursuing money opens doors in the future, while pursuing a job you love helps you grow in the present.
A common feeling among older wealthy men is regret for letting their dreams die while they were young enough to pursue them. This is where personal growth comes in. If you follow your dreams that won’t earn you money for a certain time – perhaps you’ve always wanted to start a business, or perhaps you wanted to be a travel writer all over Europe – you might either make a career of those dreams, or you might come to the end of them, broke and exhausted. The experience of following them, however, will help you grow as a person, and you’ll be able to enter a job that will be more financially stable or successful without regrets.
Every man has dreams to some extent, and every man has to follow them to some extent. The difference between men lies in how much they want their dreams, and in how lucky they are in life. However, if you’ve never had the experience of following your dreams, and if you’ve got a shot at eating and keep a roof over your head, I would say that definitely choose the job you love over the job that will make you money. If you’ve already been trying and the job you love simply isn’t working out the way you want it to, then you should definitely consider switching to a career path that may not be as fulfilling, but that will help you make money to make your life work out.
Failure isn’t as bad as our culture makes it out to be. I respect the man who tried to make his dreams work out much more than I respect the man who never even tried. If you try and fail, like many do, there are always hobbies to help remind you of the life you tried to make of yourself. And there are other joys in life that money can provide – good food, a family life, a sense of having “made it,” and all the trappings of domesticity. So don’t give up on your dreams until you’ve given them a fighting chance, but if you try and it’s not working out, don’t beat yourself up for “selling out” and making the financially sound choice.