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For love or money? How to choose what's important when deciding on a career

By Fi Darby

Are you are currently torn between making money or doing what you love? Are the ‘heart or money, ‘money or passion’ questions running around your head? If so you might be interested to read the Happy Workers 2017 Report by work experts MWAH (Making Work Absolutely Human) and Curtin University. Whilst you are pondering the question, ‘Should I choose a job for money?’ you might like to consider the different aspects of a job that can contribute to job satisfaction.

Should you "do what you love"?

Should you feel out your "authentic self" when it comes to career planning? Well, maybe. The Happy Workers report split their research into six discrete areas (below): 

  • Work flexibility
  • Working hours
  • Job itself
  • Job security
  • Job payment
  • Work overall

It is interesting to note that, in recent years (according to Business Insider) the four top industries when it came to pay were: 

  • Mining, resources and energy
  • Consulting and strategy
  • Construction
  • Engineering

Whereas the five top industries for worker satisfaction (according to the ‘Happy Workers’ report) are: 

  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing
  • Arts and recreation services
  • Other services
  • Education and training

The fact that none of the top four job sectors for pay overlap the top four job sectors for happiness makes an interesting money or passion discussion. Does this suggest that pay levels are not an important factor in job satisfaction?

Is love or money more important when deciding on a career?

The Happy Workers report found that, in general, it is in the areas of job security and work flexibility that Australians find most job satisfaction.  This suggests that, as a nation, we are inclined to answer the ‘money or passion’ question with a demand for both. 

love vs money

The argument for head ("money")

The Happy Workers report confirms that Australians do take their level of pay seriously when it comes to job satisfaction. Almost 30% of us are dissatisfied with a combination of our total pay and our working hours. Looking at the areas of happiness list above, it is interesting to note that ‘job payment’ has been included. When you are thinking about making money or doing what you love, this makes perfect sense because even the most enjoyable of jobs will not keep you happy for long if you are struggling to pay the bills. 

money bag concept

The argument for heart ("passion")

Richard Branson once famously said, ‘Some 80% of your life is spent working. You want to have fun at home; why shouldn’t you have fun at work?’ 

We Australians spend a lot of time at work. In 2017 the Happy Workers report suggested that the Australian workforce numbered around 12 million and spent an impressive total of 20 billion hours being paid to work (the study didn’t include figures for voluntary work). If you are a man working in Australia, you are likely to spend half of your total waking hours in a paying job, and the figure isn’t much lower (38%) if you are an Australian woman.

This rather high percentage of time puts an interesting slant on the question of making money or doing what you love. Surely, if you are going to spend around half of your waking life doing something, it is important to go for enjoyment when it comes to the ‘heart vs money’ question. 

Can we have it all (and should we)?

Happiness in the workplace isn’t just good for individual employees. One of the key ‘money or passion’ arguments is that greater workplace satisfaction leads to improved productivity, lower absenteeism and lower staff turnover. Happiness isn’t just good for us, it is good for Australia. Employers are starting to cotton onto this and you may find that if you hold out for exactly the right job, you might be able to answer the, ‘Should I choose a job for money?’ question by saying, ‘Yes, but I am going to have both and make sure I don’t have to choose between heart or money.’ 

There are some careers that can combine job satisfaction and financial reward so satisfactorily that the question of making money or doing what you love never arises.

Here are two great examples: 

  • Careers in events management are varied, have a sociable vibe to them and give the opportunity to combine a love of meeting people with the practicalities of paying the mortgage. If you have a head for organisation but a flair for style you can step into a career that both you and your bank manager will love.
  • For many people, finding complete job satisfaction is when they finally realise their dreams and start the journey to running their own business by taking a course in small business management? Being your own boss may help bridge the gap between heart and money if you plan well.

young asian woman cafe business owner

Having the time of your life

One interesting way to think about the issue of heart vs money is to consider how we feel about our jobs as we progress through our adult lives. Consider that older Australians are continuing work because they want to and are amongst the happiest workers. You might be surprised to learn that when it comes to making money or doing what you love, the younger generations are also managing a bit of both.

How does age affect whether love or money is key?

However according to the Happy Workers study, it is those in their middle years who find themselves dissatisfied with their work situations. Workers at this stage of life tend to have more financial commitments, including families and mortgages, than either younger or older workers. This means that they often feel less able to make career changes and find either money or passion in alternative employment. 

What makes us happier at work?

If you find yourself in this mid-life, dissatisfaction scenario then you can look at possible changes in two contrasting ways:

  • If you are longing for a job that would make you happier and help you to feel as though you were making a real difference in the world, how about a career change to community services? The Happy Workers report concluded that those working in careers underneath the ‘community and personal services workers’ umbrella were more likely to report higher levels of job satisfaction.
  • If you are dissatisfied because of your pay level, why not look at training towards a career in management. Once you have management qualifications you can continue to work within your current industry at a higher level (with higher pay) or you can use them as a stepping board into new career areas.

Do what you love... is that the best career advice?

Whether you feel that you want to follow your heart or ensure a healthy bank balance, gaining an online qualification can be the next step you need to take towards making a change for the good. Who knows, you might even end up not needing to ask the ‘heart or money’ question after all.

Still unsure where your heart lies? Perhaps having a look at our Industry Insights can give you some guidance about what direction to take. There you will find all the current information you need on the latest industry trends, what it's like to work within your chosen field, and hear from professional industry experts with Upskilled's comprehensive profiles. 

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*By providing your information, you agree to our Privacy Policy and to receiving email and other forms of communication from Upskilled. You are able to opt-out at any time.