Growing up in a household which preached Confucius’ quote, “Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life,” I decided to pursue a career in sports journalism because, in my teens and early 20s, I loved sports and writing.
As some of my family members used to say, “I found my calling,” which made me feel extra-special and excitedly different compared to my peers, most of whom were struggling to identify their “calling.”
After several years of taking step-by-step down the sports journalism career path, I realized: There’s much not to love about sports journalism — namely average-to-below-average pay, and working nights and weekends, which has tremendous impositions on lifestyle — even though I love sports and writing.
So, following graduation from San Diego State University and subsequently quitting my job at NBC San Diego in 2012, I started to ask myself: If making a career out of my passion isn’t the best path, how should I approach my career?
Mostly through trial and error, it dawned on me: All jobs — even the ones which seem the most interesting, fun, exciting, et cetera from the outside looking in — have their pros and cons. That is, every job has glamorous and soul-sucking aspects, some more than others.
This is why, if you gave me the liberty to rewrite Confucius’ quote, I’d say:
“Find a job that maximizes your day-to-day happiness, and gives you plenty of time to pursue said happiness, even though you’ll have to work most days in your life.”
In other words: Focus on making a career out of the lifestyle you prefer, not your passions.
Perhaps this sentiment might have been completely naive or inaccurate a couple of decades ago. But, with the Internet bigger and better than ever, I can all but guarantee there are plenty of jobs and careers which will enable you to live the day-to-day life you desire and, ultimately, to maximize your day-to-day happiness, with plenty of time to pursue said happiness.
The problem with mixing money and passions
Mixing money with passions is like doing business with family and friends, or dating people you work with: It can definitely work, but it’s probably best to avoid these situations.
The truth is, most people are usually most passionate about things when they can pursue them on their own time, with whatever deadlines and expectations they impose (or don’t impose) on themselves.
When you elect to monetize your passion, either through employment or starting a business, you almost immediately put other people (e.g. employers, customers, clients) in the driver’s seat regarding deadlines, expectations, and other demands.
Depending on how much money you want to make, and the timeline for growth you envision, you’ll also have to invest a certain degree of “deliberate practice” — which combines plenty of hard, focused work with a “not supposed to be fun” attitude. Is this really how you want to pursue your passions?
If you’re still not totally convinced, learn firsthand from Benjamin Franklin who, despite being an avid chess player, never became a true professional at the game.
Where to go from here
First, figure out how you want your day-to-day to be — again, with the goal of maximizing personal happiness. You can start with questions like:
- In which kind of place do I want to live, considering cost-of-living, weather, transportation, et cetera?
- At which time do I want to awake and go to sleep on most days?
- Which hobbies and passions do I consistently want to pursue?
- What else will maximize my happiness on a day-to-day basis?
Then, add up all your annual expenses — both survival and discretionary — as well as any expenses related to your answers from the questions above. If saving money is important to you, factor in the total amount of money you want to save each year, after taxes. Finally, to be safe, add a 30-percent markup to this number.
- Total Annual Expenses: $36,000
- Total Annual Savings (after taxes): $14,000
- Total Annual Expenses + Total Annual Savings, with 30-percent markup: $65,000
Using this example, I need to make $65,000 per year (or about $5,500 per month) after taxes, in order to achieve the lifestyle I desire.
However, finding a job which pays me $65,000 per year (or about $5,500 per month) after taxes, is only half the battle. The other, equally important half, is finding a job which also yields me enough time to pursue the activities which will equate to optimal happiness.
There is where you’ll probably need to develop a few things, such as:
- A results-driven mentality (rather than a time-driven one), and
- Modern-day time management habits and productivity skills
Many people, businesses, and organizations still operate with a time-driven mentality, which usually manifests itself in regular, fixed work hours and obligatory (if not mandatory) work at an office.
Moving forward, the most successful companies will allow their employees and contractors to work from wherever, so long as they can accomplish certain goals and objectives, according to predetermined deadlines and expectations.
This is precisely the definition of a results-driven mentality. Instead of considering the amount of hours one must or should dedicate within a specific position, results-driven people focus not on the time it takes to accomplish goals and objectives, according to predetermined deadlines and expectations, but accomplishing the goals and objectives themselves.
Hence why modern-day time management habits and productivity skills are more valuable than ever. Today, you might have habits and skills which result in you spending eight hours a day “on the job.” But, with better habits and skills, you can shrink this time investment by 20-to-50 percent, without compromising the quality of work, and without underachieving on any goal or objective.
In fact, you might just find yourself improving the quality of work, and overachieving on goals and objectives, while investing significantly less time.
- Focus on making a career out of the lifestyle you prefer, not your passions.
- If you haven’t already, develop a results-driven mentality (rather than a time-driven one).
- Optimize your modern-day time management habits and productivity skills, so you can (a) generate better results for your employer, customers, or clients in less time, and (b) create more time for living a lifestyle that will make you feel happier and more fulfilled.
There’s more where that came from at Hack My Time.