With graduation ceremonies right around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to discuss the topic of following your passion when looking for a career. I know many college students (along with adults) choose a particular career because of the money involved first. I am not saying that money is not important but, if someone selects a career for the paycheck only, he/she will more than likely burn-out very quickly. I know that is very easy for me to say since I chose to become a teacher because I have a passion to help and teach others (I sure didn’t get into this field because of the pay) but I recently read a study that discussed why it is important to follow your passions first and the money will follow.
Srully Blotnick, an American author and journalist, did a study from 1960 to 1980 of 1,500 business school graduates, tracking their success after graduation based on their career choices. These students were separated into two groups – those who chose to do something for money first and their passion second, and those who chose to follow their dreams and then worry about money later. The study revealed that 83 percent of the graduates chose money over their dreams and only 17 percent decided to work in a field they were passionate about regardless of the pay.
This was not a large case study but, of the 255 graduates who chose work that truly absorbed them, 100 were millionaires 20 years later. Out of the 1,245 graduates who decided to chase a bigger paycheck over what they were passionate about guess how many were millionaires 20 years down the road. If you said “one” you are the winner. That’s right, just one person that decided to follow a paycheck over passion actually earned a lot of money.
Once again, I don’t want to come across as saying that money is not important. If your passion is to become an author I say go for it but, you might have to have another job on the side while you are working on your dreams. My point is, if you do a job just for the money, you will very likely be dissatisfied with it. This feeling will ooze over into other areas of your life. I was actually in this boat a few years ago. I was teaching first grade at the time and was offered a job selling high-end flooring in which I could potentially double or even triple my teaching salary. I decided to take this job for the wrong reason – only to make more money. For those of you that are unfamiliar with teaching, first grade is probably one of the most challenging but rewarding grades one can teach. You have students come in at the beginning of the school year not being able to sound out a simple three-letter word and, by the time May comes, they are reading chapter books. So I went from doing that to selling a $3,000 area rug that I could care less about. I think it goes without saying that I was a HORRIBLE salesman – at least in that field. I was not passionate at all about my job and this feeling affected other areas of my life. Tracy even noticed that I had lost my “spark.” After a few months of being a lousy salesman, I got back into teaching was happier making $37,000 a year doing that than I would have been making $100,000 selling flooring.
I think if there is a plus to the economic crisis our country is in, I think it is that many are realizing this. Many people have been laid-off and/or fired and, thus, have been forced to find another career. They have realized that almost no job is immune from being down-sized or eliminated. Since this is the case, you might as well do something you are passionate about even if the pay is not large. I know some that got into a career because they thought the large paycheck would make them “rich” but, after time realized this was not the case. You see, a large bank account may mean you have a lot of money but does not automatically make you wealthy; working in a field that brings you fulfillment and has meaning to you can be worth more than any paycheck you might receive.