Do what you love or find a real job?



A recent opinion piece in Slate magazine explores the thrust of the DWYL (do what you love) movement. According to author Miya Tokumitsu, this well-intended mantra undervalues real work. Only those who are financially or socially privileged can chase down the intellectually stimulating and creative careers that are often put into the DWYL category.

Privileged folks find it easier to take time off of work to pursue a degree, and they also have the ability to take unpaid internships, which gives them an edge while finding a paying gig in their favorite industries. For others, however, idealism has to take a backseat to realism. If you have a baby to feed, rent to pay, or a mounting pile of medical bills, you have to take a \”real\” job.

Skill Building

When you need cash immediately, you may accept whatever job will hire you, but there\’s no reason to feel stuck and unhappy there. While flipping burgers or pounding the pavement doing outside sales, you can build the skills that you need to jump into a more desired industry. Turning your skills into cash is usually easier if you can earn an advanced degree, but even with just a couple of months or a year to prep, you can get the education you need to open doors in many industries.

According to Penn Foster, you can get online professional training to become a medical coder, a personal trainer, a desktop designer, a paralegal, a mechanic, or a range of other careers without spending exhaustive amounts of money or time. At a career school, you can get the skills you need for well under a $100 per credit, far less than you would pay to go to a traditional school. Unlike a traditional school, you will graduate with marketable skills instead of walking out with a mostly useless (but fun to earn) English degree.

Mixing Work and Pleasure

A popular saying is that if you love your job, you never work a day in your life. Forbes has an interesting take on this classic idea on one of its op-ed pieces that claims \”your bliss can become hell once it becomes a job.\” Just because you love to romp in the sheets doesn\’t mean that you\’d enjoy a job in that industry. Just because you love to ski doesn\’t mean that you\’d enjoy day after day of getting windburn on the bunny slopes as you teach little squirts to ski.

Before pursuing a full time career as a passionista, think about how it will feel to work full time in that field. If possible, shadow someone in the industry so that you can get a feel for professionalizing your hobby and decide whether or not it\’s right for you. Someone who loves to cook may love being a chef, while another foodie may have an easier time sitting in a cubicle for cash during the week and cooking for the love of it on weekends.

Money Can\’t Buy Happiness

When trying to decide between a job you love and a job that will pay the bills, it\’s important to note that money can\’t buy happiness. Numerous studies attest to the fact that happiness is not based on money. In fact, according to Psych Central, six months after winning the lottery or becoming paralyzed from the waist down, both groups of people have the same happiness levels as they did before winning cash or losing their legs. Keep that in mind as you contemplate whether you should become a painter or an investment banker.

Author Bio:Chris is an independent financial planner and freelance writer originally from British Columbia. He is married and has two girls.