We’ve all heard the saying that ‘money doesn’t buy you happiness’ or to follow your passion. If only life was so simple. In reality, there’s a lot more to consider when deciding which is more important. We face constant pressure and challenges that push us down certain career paths and often end up making choices we regret, but sometimes it works out great. Because everyone is so different, there is no one-size-fits-all answer, but we’ll give you everything you need to know to figure out what’s best for you.
Money or passion
The importance of money vs passion depends on the life you want to live and your priorities at each stage. Our environment, personality, attitude, values, beliefs, and motivations shape these decisions. But it’s these same aspects of our identity and surroundings that can lead us down the wrong path if we don’t reflect, plan ahead, and think about how our circumstances will change. Before we drop some truth bombs about the changing priorities that come with age, let’s dive into the pros and cons of choosing between a career based on money or passion.
Pros and cons of money
When you don’t have money it feels like one of the most important things in the world. We need it for basic necessities at minimum but large amounts also provide security and freedom. The more you get, though, the more it can become a side thought as a means of letting you do things you’re passionate about. Because many of our interests are affordable without much money, it all comes full cycle and is hard to know what to focus on first. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation.
- Money gives you more control and freedom over your life.
- The more money you have, the more it starts to work for you without costing your time.
- It raises your social status and makes everything more accessible.
- You can use your money to help others and have a greater impact on the world.
- If you dedicate the earlier years to making money, you’ll have more time to do what you want later.
- You get to experience everything to a much higher standard. Better food. Better hotels. Better travel.
- Once you have the skills to build wealth, it’s easier to get back if something bad happens.
- Economic downturns turn into bargain hunts to make you even richer.
- Money can give your family a more comfortable and safer life for generations to come.
- Money can take several years to accumulate with no guarantee of success. If you focus too much on it then you could waste precious time in your life that you’ll never get back.
- To make a lot of money you will likely get into debt from loans, take many risks, and be responsible for other people’s lives.
- The pursuit of money can take up so much time that you may neglect your health, relationships and hobbies.
- Getting rich not for the faint hearted and often requires building up stress-tolerance, discipline, resilience and other stoic qualities if you want to thrive.
- When you make good money your standard of living increases and it’s sometimes hard to keep up with all the extra expenses to maintain that lifestyle.
- If you’re rich people may treat you differently and many resent or try to exploit you, which can leave some feeling cynical and isolated.
This is the part where things get particularly interesting!
Why you should follow your passion
Older generations were brought up to grit their teeth and take the sensible route of financial stability over passion projects. How many poor souls were convinced into becoming doctors and lawyers against their will? Millennials and Gen Z have experienced a more open approach to parenthood and often pursue their interests with the comfort of having a roof over their heads after university. Still, we are faced with pressure to keep up with people on social media and prove our worth against feelings of inadequacy. At the same time, we place more value on mental health, work-life balance, and gratification. These are all legitimate reasons to focus on your passion instead of money.
Not only that but in the age of social media we have the unique opportunity to turn our passions into real income. By using our existing friends and followers we can gain support to expand our influence and attract new audiences who can be monetised through advertising revenue, merch sales, and sponsorship deals. So there’s arguably never been a better time to pursue passion if you have business sense to market yourself well and you provide value that what people want.
Also, creativity is typically at its best when you’re young and dedicating all your time to a craft will definitely improve your chances of breaking through into a sustainable career. In some industries like music, it becomes notoriously difficult to reach success starting after your 20’s. More so, younger people tend to set the trends and your work will likely resonate better at an earlier age. And if you’re older and have already earned a good chunk of money, you have time to focus on a passion without any real consequences and it could bring more fulfilment to your life.
Why you shouldn't follow your passion
There comes a point where you have to be brutally honest about what talents you possess and whether there’s a big enough market for it. We can’t all be the top 1% of desirables and, unfortunately, that’s usually where most of the demand is. In other words, you’re taking a gamble by focusing too much on your passion because you end up neglecting a more stable career with job security and more earning potential. Each year that you are struggling to make money doing what you love, you might find yourself spiralling into more negative emotions that could very well suck the joy out of what you’re doing anyway. It may also become harder to do things like find a partner or apply for a mortgage without financial stability going into your 30’s. What if you want children? How will you afford them? These are the types of issues worth extra consideration for people from poor backgrounds who don’t have reliable support systems. Sometimes placing importance on short-term gratification and happiness can create misery further down the line and leave you bitter and regretful if your schtick doesn’t work out.
It’s also true that not everyone has a passion. It’s possible to be content enjoying other simple things in life. A stoic or Zen philosophy can put the mind at ease without the need for anything. True happiness isn’t about being happy all the time and your passion may just be a form of escapism to avoid the inevitable pain and discomfort of life. Duties that are less fun like raising a family, providing for loved ones, and helping the community comes with its own fulfilment.
Now on to the most important part.
How to find your passion and make money
Passion is not the same as a vocation. That means you don’t have to make a career out of it. You should be able to enjoy it regardless of money and recognition because the gratification is derived internally. This is important because we often see celebrities and want to imitate that success. In many cases, it’s not about pursuing passion as much as it is receiving validation and access through fame, legacy and money. If you truly want to find your passion you have to strip all those biases away and still feel strong emotions about what you’re doing, and then keep going.
You want to know the best thing you can do to discover an authentic passion and make money from it? Journal your life. Because like we mentioned earlier, your choices are shaped by identity and that’s influenced by your past environments. So, understand your past (warts and all) and use that reflection to discover your most authentic self. You may find all kinds of lost interests, strengths and ambitions beyond the external conditioning from society. That will put you in the perfect place to plan your ideal future in a way that leans into your best qualities and away from trauma. This new and improved self will be way more authentic and that within itself is a massive money maker. Look at Francis Bourgeois, the trainspotting guy on TikTok. Not many people are into trains but enjoy his enthusiasm for them so he has amassed millions of followers with his content.
Self Authoring is popular and comes highly recommended for journalling as it was created by actual psychologists who are reputable.
Anyway, once you find your passion you have a few options.
- Find a full-time job that doesn’t require too much commitment beyond normal working hours. Then keep working on your interests in your spare time. That’s at least 3-4 hours to hone your craft each day and even more on weekends. If you can’t get any momentum with that then quitting your job is unlikely to help you. If you can get momentum, switch over to your hobby full-time at the point where you are making enough income from it to pay all living expenses by yourself.
- Work on two different career paths at the same time. Make sure one of those choices is tolerable and provides a safety net while the other gives you more freedom to have fun and take risks. For example, learn computer programming so you can always get paid for your skills if things don’t work out with your personal projects. Bonus tip: make your safe choice a job where you develop transferable skills to help you succeed in your passion e.g. digital marketing.
- Focus on your passion but find multiple ways to monetise it rather than rely on making it big. For example, if you’re an artist who plays guitar you can also perform at bars or weddings, teach lessons, fix guitars, start a guitar review YouTube channel etc.
Changing priorities in life
As promised, I wanted to share some common life scenarios for you to think about so you have a better idea how to map out your priorities.
It’s normal for people to want families as they get into their late 20’s. For many women it’s a hormonal change known as baby fever. So if you’re only 20 and don’t want children, factor in the possibility that many similar opinions change later on. Finding a good long-term partner also becomes much harder if that’s what you want.
A lot of people plan to retire early once they’re rich but invest so much time and energy into that part of their lives that it can rewire the brain. Even after the hard work and sacrifice some can’t switch off. They always need to be doing something and relaxing fills them with anxiety and self attack.
It’s often said that once you start doing your passion for a living it can feel like work and take the enjoyment out of it. It’s rarer than not to be able to focus on what you love without business interests conflicting with it.
People are more likely to be fuelled by ego and external validation when they’re younger. This is much less the case as we get older. Surface level niceties like sports cars, designer clothes and popularity can lose a lot of their meaning, and if there’s nothing substantive underneath you might have a Mercedes along with an identity crisis on your hands.
People who delay gratification in their 20’s often feel like they were robbed of their youth whereas people who seek happiness feel like the world has moved on without them when they reflect at 30. Going too extreme either way comes with greater risk of regret.
And there you have it. All the tools and considerations you need to decide your journey. YouTube is a also great resource to learn from those who have already been through life and now sharing their wisdom. To wrap it up, here’s an eye-opening video that asks millionaires if the money was worth it.