Should you follow your passion or money?

By Katarina Matiasovska on 17-06-2018

Should you follow your passion or money?” is one of the most important questions a person will ever ask himself/herself in a lifetime because subsequent perceived life satisfaction is largely dependent on this life choice and as we all know, following one’s passion doesn’t always pay the bills and the job that pays the bills doesn’t necessarily have to excite the hell out of you. Though when these two aspects merge and your passion earns you more than a hand-to-mouth living, then it’s something we can call heaven on earth.

What about you? What’s your top priority when looking for a new job – fulfilment or income? How hard or easy is it to strike a balance between these two?

Michael Schramm warns that “Money doesn’t buy happiness” is wrong

For the record, Michael Schramm (he writes about all things finance) is someone who experienced legit poverty and knows that feeling when freed from financial troubles, all the anxiety melts away and you’re finally able to focus on things other than money.

As a child and young adult, he was used to living a low-income lifestyle which revolved around never-ending financial constraints. His family couldn’t afford to buy green bell peppers and carefully counted every cent. Simply put, being broke is stressful.

Thus he finds the idea “money doesn’t buy happiness” highly perplexing.

He thinks that “it’s a half-truth at best and an outright lie at worst. Money and happiness are bound to each other. Struggling to pay your bills, save for emergencies, and invest in your future shouldn’t be glorified as a sacrifice made by those living for a higher purpose. It’s hazardous to buy into this mentality, especially if you’re looking for a job.”

Studies prove there’s a connection between happiness and income

Up to $75,000, of course. According to the research team from the department of psychological sciences at Purdue University, negative emotions decrease at a steady rate until income reaches a benchmark of about $75,000 a year per person. And this is not the only study that found that income and well-being are directly proportional, there are numerous others.

However, not having enough money is often regarded as a virtue, especially among artistic and scientific circles.

You will be poor, but your life will never be boring.” – definitely not the most salubrious advice to give to young art graduates (given by the art critic Jerry Saltz). Artists should either be paid more or… well, nobody should be poor and poverty shouldn’t be celebrated as a sacrifice for leading a meaningful life.

Money is the foundation upon which other areas of life can be improved

Happiness goes hand in hand with income because it allows you to invest in other areas of your life, such as health, hobbies, friends and relationships. For instance, you’ll be in better health if you can afford good medical care, access to sports facilities and high-quality food. Friendships are also easier to maintain when you can afford to spend some portion of your income on non-essentials (movies, eating out, etc.). And your love relationships will benefit, too – a study by Kansas State University found that arguments over money were the greatest predictor of divorce.

Everything in life is interlinked and Michael Schramm elaborates, saying that “Enjoying your work certainly increases your happiness, but that will be mitigated if your passions can’t pay for food, water, shelter and utilities – if you can’t put money in a savings account… if the occasional splurge is entirely outside your reach.”

Making a compromise is the key to happiness

Following your passion is great until you cease to enjoy your passion because your material needs are left unmet. And, believe it or not, you might even start to dislike your passion as time progresses, since unmet material needs will indirectly affect the quality of all other areas of your life. This actually should be a no-brainer, an American psychologist Abraham Maslow created Maslow's hierarchy of needs for some reason; it’s kind of difficult to focus on self-actualisation when you’re struggling to afford the most basic of basics.

Therefore, students and job seekers should think twice before pursuing a dream or passion that will leave them struggling with their bills. The best course of action would be to seek to strike a realistic balance between these two polarities.

Katarina Matiasovska writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in finding candidates their perfect internship. To browse our graduate jobs London listings, visit our website.


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