Friday, August 19, 2011

Passion over Paycheck

I’ve advised many college students over the years. When I ask them why they chose a particular major, all too often I hear, “Because it pays real well.” It disappoints me if that’s their number one reason. It is cheerful and refreshing when a student says something akin to “Because I love it!” or “I just can’t imagine doing anything else.”
I always advise students to go for the passion instead of the paycheck. Here’s why:
There’s money at the top of every field, and who rises to the top, the clock watcher or the person who is there because s/he has a passion for the profession, the first one to get there and the last one to leave?
Most of us spend more waking hours at “work” than we do with our families, so our work had better be something we care about, something we enjoy.
In his book, What Should I Do With My Life?, Po Bronson tells about how he turned down a job that paid over $300,000.00 per year, a job he could do in his sleep. Over that sure thing, he chose to try to become a writer. That’s not an easy field to break into, obviously. I admire Po’s reason for making that choice: “I’d rather have something to love than something to impress you with.”
Yes! Doesn’t that make sense? Day in and day out, I’d much rather have something to love.
On an audio series, I heard Dr. Deepak Chopra say that, in our society, more people die on Monday morning at 9 o’clock than at any other single time of the week. I thought maybe he was joking, so when I heard him on a radio talk show I called in to double-check and to chat. He said it was true. I was pretty sure I knew the answer, but I asked him anyway: “Reckon how come that is?” He said, “What?!” I said, “Oh, you’ll have to pardon me; I’m from east Arkansas. What I’m trying to say is ‘Why do you perceive that to be the situation?’” He said that the reason more people in the USA die on Monday morning at 9 o’clock than at any other single time of the week is because most people hate what they do for a living.
There’s a big clue. Please do something you adore instead of something you abhor. People who hate their jobs live for the weekend—there are songs and T-shirts lamenting that sad fact. So, there go 5 days of the week, lost to loathing. Then what do they do with the weekend? Spend a large part of it dreading Monday. Some try to make up for the 5 lost days by cramming in as much “fun” as they can, often resulting in overindulgences that just make them feel that much worse. There go two more days, displaced by dread and destruction. Not much room for joy when all 7 days are discounted. They’ll have to visit a former lifetime to find any good old days to look back upon.
Nothing against money. I’m all for getting paid. Someone (perhaps Sophie Tucker) said, “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich is better.” Money can’t buy happiness: That’s true, but neither can poverty. Money has little or nothing to do with happiness. We all know people who have hot and cold running maids, yet they are miserable. We know folks who don’t have a window to throw it out of, yet they are cheerful. As long as our basic needs are being met, how happy we are or are not is pretty much a choice.
Choose the passion over the paycheck. The result is an abundance of both.

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