Thursday, January 14, 2010

Follow my heart, or follow the money?


Dear Edahn,

I'm at a turning point in my career-- I've essentially been given the option to follow my heart or follow the money. As a male in a long term relationship, I feel pressure to earn enough to support a family, but I know that my heart isn't in it. Should I take a risk of being poor and do what I enjoy doing, given that it might be at the expense of being able to support a wife and children?

That's a tough question that you're going to need to work through yourself. I can give you some of my thoughts on the issue. My main priority in life, when I really cut through all the shit and ask what's important to me, is being a good person, having a big heart, and filling my life with joy and beauty. Everything else is a tool to further those ends. Being close with my family is an important tool, helping people is an important tool, and having the right amount of money is yet another. The right amount is not too little where I have to be constantly worried, but not too much where it preempts my identity.

If I were you, I would take an inventory of the things that are important to you. Forget about what other people are doing and where they're going. Picture yourself happy in the future and try and imagine the person you are. Not just happy as in excited, but happy in the sense that you are proud of your life, feel content, feel connected and like yourself. In that scenario, what qualities have you developed as a person? What type of lifestyle have you chosen? What type of work do you have? If you're really honest with those answers, you'll choose a career that works for you and isn't too unrealistic and you'll know the answer to your question.

1 comment:

aaron Small said...

I'm gonna have to weigh in here. A-train style.

Follow the heart, I heard some good advice from John Cleese of Monty Python. He said: "Decide what kind of life you want. Picture it. Visualize it. EVERYTHING. School for your family, size of your house, cars, vacations, food. Then figure out how much MONEY you need to make to make that dream happen. Money is a tool, but it is important and cannot be ignored. Ultimately, if the money career will suck your soul dry, then why even consider it?

Think and Grow Rich is a great book about money. His main premise is: concretely write down how much money you want, and by what age. Think and internalize it. Then watch it happen.

-aaron