I think we can all agree that life is expensive and additional income is not something we’re going to pass up easily. So when we’re faced with the prospect of a not so exciting job that comes with an exciting salary, it is a difficult thing to turn down.
I get it. But have you really thought about what your life would be like if you got up every morning and went into a job just for the money? Well as someone who has spent nearly the last decade in recruitment and had a front row seat to the career trajectory of many, allow me to paint the picture for you:
The Honeymoon Phase …
This is when you start to splurge a little. You want to celebrate your new job and the extra financial leeway it affords you. You give your closet a facelift, do a little interior decorating to the homestead. Feels good, doesn’t it? Suddenly you realize that you have adjusted your spending habits to your newly elevated income level. Because people rarely live below their means and instead build their cost of living around their current financial situation. So that subway ride to work becomes a new car, that apartment rental a newly bought condo. Because now you can afford it.
The Hamster Wheel
After a certain amount of time, any miserable job is going to make you miserable. That initial rush of the money has now worn off and those familiar Sunday evening dreads popping up again. Any reasonable person would say you are obviously not in a job that is right for you. But money can be like a drug. And like all drugs it can be extremely difficult to walk away from, or even take a step back from.
So here you are, in a job that’s not fulfilling you, putting up with it for the paycheque you’re now semi-addicted to. At this point though you can still make a choice (although you probably can’t see it). You can downsize, vacation on a budget, brown bag your lunches. But sadly you’ll probably choose to keep the hamster wheel going. You can’t imagine taking a step back financially (*shiver*) so instead you justify the soul-sucking job by getting deeper into financial debt.
Here’s the good news: it doesn’t have to be this way! Now, am I advocating to follow your heart to abandon, work for peanuts and live life as a free/broke spirit? Absolutely not! Money is important. But when it comes to work that is going to fulfill you there are other considerations you need to pay attention to. It is absolutely possible to find balance between work that actually matters to you AND a healthy financial life that takes care of all your needs. Here’s how:
Get clear on what fulfilling work means for you…
… because it means something different for everyone. Ask yourself, do you have a keen understanding of your Core Values? Do you know the impact you want to make with your work? Or have you taken the time to reflect on what it is you actually enjoy doing? Questions such as these will help you identify the type of work that is right for you and will educate you on the journey it will take to get there. And once you know what you do want, you can safely avoid what you don’t, despite that glitzy payday!
Save money when you have it so it’s there when you need it…
Not exactly groundbreaking advice, but it will take several pivots and tons of learning to find the work that lights you up. Having a financial cushion in place will give you the freedom to experiment, to take care of yourself when life throws you a curveball (because it will). You can start off small, putting aside 10% of your income every month into a savings account. The amount will grow but even more beneficial, you’ll start to develop a keener value of the coin and the investment you are making in yourself.
Don’t stop pursuing what you love…
Just because you can’t pursue what you love full time (yet), doesn’t mean you can’t pursue it at all. Research shows that even 15 minutes a day spent on side interests is enough to keep you motivated and move the dial forward. So while you’re uncovering the career journey you need to take and saving your financial cushion, you can also be honing your skills in a certain area and exploring your interests. Those side interests just might turn into a side hustle as a result! The time is going to pass anyways, you might as well make it productive.
Ok, so I know I kinda threw a lot at you just now, so let me simplify. Don’t take a job just for the money. Because the money alone will not keep you from wanting to poke your eyeballs out and you will only end up creating a life that is so expensive, you will be forced to continue working at that miserable job just to afford it. Instead take the better route. Figure out what meaningful work is for you. Then give yourself the financial room to explore that area and take strides towards it. In most cases, this will not be an overnight journey (it wasn’t for me). But at least I can be living proof for you that you can go after the work you dream of and have a stable and healthy financial life at the same time. The two are not mutually exclusive and are there if you want it bad enough. So how badly do you want it?
Allison Colin-Thome heads up Career Off Script, where she helps millennials find work they actually want, so they can stop waking up for just a paycheck and instead have a career that means something to them. She cuts through their confusion by helping them figure out what they really need, what drives them and what it will take in a job for them to be happy so they can find careers they love and finally take their next steps with confidence. After a bumpy journey of her own, Allison left her career in Corporate HR to pursue the work she loved. She started her business while spending time in Colombia learning Spanish and can either be found sipping Earl Grey in a midtown Toronto cafe or online at www.careeroffscript.com.