A lot of people decide to earn a living doing what they love despite the fact that their chosen profession isn’t especially high-paying. Teachers, for example, are famous for following their passion rather than going after the highest paycheck possible. (These professionals are terribly underpaid when you compare them to others with similar levels of education.)
But, how do you know if a similar choice is what’s best for you? Should you take a pay cut in order to have a job that you really love? There are a few things to keep in mind when weighing your options.
1. Really get your head around the numbers
You want to make an informed decision here. You’ll be glad that you moved with careful consideration, no matter which direction you choose in the end.
Opting for a lower paycheck than you could potentially earn is a tough decision. So, it might be tempting to avoid thinking about it. Commit to being real about your options and looking the choice square in the face.
Use PayScale’s Salary Survey to do your homework. Lay out each of your options and then dig into the numbers. What are professionals in your area with your experience paid for doing the different types of work that you’re considering? What do the career and pay trajectories look like for each of your options?
Get real about what your options are and know what you’re getting into. Be honest with yourself about what you want and need.
2. Know that doing a job you love also has its drawbacks
There’s an awful lot of talk about the importance of doing what you love. But, having a job that is your passion does come with its drawbacks, too. First of all, work-life balance is often more of a challenge for professionals who are very invested in their profession. The line between work and play tends to blur, and before you know it you’ve been putting all your eggs in the professional basket and haven’t been developing other aspects of your life.
Also, it’s important to be real about the fact that passions and interests shift and change over time. Just because you’re super excited about one industry now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll feel the same way in the future.
How would you feel about deciding to take a pay cut in a few years if your interest has started to fade? Would you have regrets? Or, maybe that would be the right time to change careers and go after a higher paycheck.
Just keep in mind that there is a downside to doing what you love that goes beyond lower pay. Be real about what those factors would be for you.
3. Appreciate the value of doing what you love
At the end of the day, you want to weigh all of the factors and make the decision that’s best for you. Only you know how much value you place on doing what you love. You’re the only one who knows how much having that experience is worth to you.
You only have one life to live, so you might decide that following your passion is worth a pay cut. You wouldn’t be the first person to make this choice. Plenty of highly successful people recommend it, in fact.
“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love,” author Maya Angelou famously said. “Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”
There’s an extra bit of wisdom here. Pursuing your passion and taking a lower paying job doesn’t always mean that you’ll make less forever. You just might find that this choice ultimately leads to financial gains, too.
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