Money & Career
Follow the Money or Follow Your Dreams?
7/8/2014 12:12:19 PM


Marty Nemko believes thatthe job-hunting public has been sold a bill of goods when they’re told to follow their passions. For a select few—those who are bright, uniquely talented, uber-motivated and genuinely passionate, he says—that advice works out like gangbusters. For thousands of others, it’s impractical.

Nemko, nationally renowned career coach and author of Cool Careers for Dummies, has worked with more than 4,000 clients and discovered that people’s passions tend to run along the same lines: a creative outlet, such as performing, writing, or creating visual art; a cause, like the environment or race and gender issues; entertainment, such as broadcasting, sports, or video games; or "glitz,” like fashion, cars, or decorating. Unfortunately, there are a large number of people interested in the same things and few jobs for any of them. Even worse: there are people out there willing to do the tasks for free or negligible cost.

"Fact is, if you do what you love, you’ll probably starve,” Nemko says.

Yes, he clarifies, some people do what they love and the money has followed. But even those people—ones working in a "cool field” of their dreams—can be professionally unsatisfied, he says.

According to Nemko, you’re likely to find career contentment if you have a decent working environment, reasonable work hours, kind treatment, opportunities for learning, and a healthy paycheck. You also want a job that challenges you enough that it isn’t too easy—but isn’t so challenging that it’s overly difficult. These are the things that lead to work happiness, he says, even if your job is mundane.

"For most people, excellence and accomplishment makes them like their jobs, not whether it’s in a ‘cool field,’” he says.

Nemko doesn’t think people should give up their dreams or passions, but clarifies that "if you do your passion as a hobby or sideline, it can be much easier to do what you love.”

Rather than assume that you’d be happier in career X, Y or Z, assess your general perspective. It often just takes a tweak to boost professional happiness, not a complete overhaul, Nemko says—but it’s up to you to figure out what that tweak looks like.

Also: Don’t assume that you’ll be happier if you could paint all day or work long hours for a non-profit.

In what he calls a "contrarian approach to finding career contentment,” Nemko says: "If you’re older than 20, career contentment will probably not be found waiting for the right career.” That’s because most people for whom there is only one quintessentially perfect career knew it before they were 20. If your dream job was to be a chef and you wouldn’t be happy any other way, for example, you probably knew it before age 20. Otherwise you’re like most people: unsure of what a perfect career looks like.

In the end, being happy in your career depends mainly on your job having these characteristics, Nemko says:

· work that isn’t too hard or too easy

· work that uses, or could be molded to use, your core ability(ies.)

· is ethically sound

· good co-workers and boss

· reasonable compensation

· reasonable work hours

· opportunities to learn

· reasonable commute

"I’ve made a number of recommendations that are contrary to conventional wisdom,” Nemko says.

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Posted by: Erin Kelly | Submit comment | Tell a friend

Categories: Career  |  Finances

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