Stop Trying to “Find Your Passion”

  • Abby

Take a moment to imagine that you have come into $10,000,000 (after tax). Now, honestly ask yourself, would you stay at your current job?

If you answered yes, then congratulations, you’re one of the few.

Let me preface this opinion piece with my personal bias – I am someone who places a high value on stability. As a young adult who recently entered the workforce, my experience has been that many other Millenials are pursuing alternative paths rather than accepting a traditional 9-5 job upon graduation from University.  Such examples include taking time off to travel, starting a company, volunteering abroad, etc. Often the goal of these pursuits is to find something about which one is passionate.

Bringing this back to the opening statement: if you came into $10,000,000 and continued to work at the same job, then it is fairly easy to conclude that you are already passionate about your career.

As young adults, we are constantly reminded of the importance of living a meaningful and fulfilling life. Statements such as “Do what you love and the money follows” and “If you love what you do, then you will never work a day in your life” have been repeated to us throughout our youth to the point of becoming cliché.

Here’s where I get cynical: Is it essential to personal happiness to have a career about which one is passionate. I don’t think so.

I really really like my job. I am happy to go to work every day, and I find personal gratification in coming up with a solution to an issue that a client or that my employer may be having. I find the industry in which I work (portfolio management) to be very interesting and I like learning more about investing and capital markets every day. Do I love my job? Maybe. Am I passionate about the work that I do to the point of continuing after coming into $10 million? Doubt it.

Personally, I am of the opinion that working is a means to an end. The goals and activities that I dream about require a certain level of income to sustain. Whether it is travelling to a remote beach town for a vacation, eventually owning a lake front cabin, regularly skiing in the Rockies, or something as simple as kickboxing and sparring on a weekly basis with good friends, money is required to finance these goals and activities. It isn’t the daily work that excites me- it is the outcome of the daily work that allows me to attain my dreams that gets me going. What I choose to do outside of work is what I am passionate about.

So what makes taking a stable, reliable job in your early twenties compelling?

  1. A recent article by Bloomberg Finance highlights that the earnings throughout the first ten years of one’s career dictate their future earnings.
  2. Getting as much practical experience as possible, as early as possible, arguably puts one in a better position for receiving promotions or when being considered for a new job, relative to their peers.
  3. Time Value of Money (my personal favourite). If you were to save $10,000 per year from the age 25 – 65, and earn 5% per year, it would be worth approximately $1,208,000 at retirement. On the other hand, if you we’re to delay retirement savings throughout the early years of your career, and instead save $20,000 per year from the age 45-65 (still $400,000 total) at 5% then it would be worth approximately $661,320 at retirement.   The dollar amount saved is the same, but the compounding period at a modest 5% doubles the future value that you would have accumulated at retirement.

Allow me to clarify- I am certainly not insinuating that one must accept a job that they dread in order to ensure financial stability. Quite the opposite actually. My point is that it is okay to “settle” for a job that doesn’t provide the “purpose” that society implies is a prerequisite in order to live a meaningful and fulfilling life.

The fact that I value a stable job with a defined career path that will provide me with the resources to do what I love doesn’t necessarily make it a better path than someone who values personal freedom and the authority to make their own decisions on a day-to-day basis.  At the end of the day, it all comes down to what you value the most.

  •  Abby


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