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  1. #1
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    Do what you love...or work so you can afford life?

    Iíve always struggled with this question and figured this forum might be as good a place as any to debate it. Some people seem to be able to pursue their passions and make it all work (or is that just Instagram bullshit?)


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  2. #2
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    Can't you do both?

    Seems like you're asking if you can do both without being a trust funder. Answer is yes, you can do both without being a trustfunder.

  3. #3
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    100% . Isnít that the goal? You may have to compromise slightly here and there....

  4. #4
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    A better question might be do you want to make something you love into a job? Because even the things you love the most will feel like a job sometimes if youíre forced to do it to pay bills. Those times may be few and far between depending on the person but they will come. That works for some people but not all.


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  5. #5
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    Opinion varies greatly as does experience. This issue has been hotly debated in the past with some insisting it is not possible.

    I have known academics that ended up hating being a professor. I have known others that loved it and was their life's work and continued doing research long after they had left their department.

    Then there's musicians and artists who love what they do. Some can pay the bills, some can't.

    I do think that whatever we end up doing for $, at least some facet of it has to have some appeal. YMMV.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buster Highmen View Post
    I have known academics that ended up hating being a professor. I have known others that loved it and was their life's work and continued doing research long after they had left their department.
    Non-trustfunder here currently in grad school in the environmental sciences. I have been in the academic sector for awhile and definitely notice this trend. Professors who 'retire' but never actually retire and still conduct research basically until they die. Versus younger professors, and this is definitely a trend too, who spend all their time writing grants to try to support their research and grad students. While I romanticize about the older times of long periods out in the field and writing research papers, the modern reality is much different: long periods crammed in the office writing grants, student interactions online with sites like Canvas/Blackboard, and working with pre-existing databases as data mining is much cheaper than funding new field work.


    I've always suspected I'd remain in the academic sector but career outlooks are so bleak right now especially if you want to be a college professor. For context, you will likely not get a tenure-track faculty position in a semi-decent location until at least 1-2 post-doc positions plus a few more years of work experience (a 'young' professor is late 30s/early 40s at a mid-tier research institute). And that's assuming you stand out enough through this whole process just to be a top 10 applicant among a 100+ applicant pool for professor gigs. And also assuming you can live off research technician pay in the $12-15/hr, mid 20k grad stipend for 5+yrs, and a 35-45k post doc salary.

    I'm really really hoping this turns around as I've invested a ton of time with very low pay hoping to get into and eventually through grad school. Looking at peers around me, though, I see a lot of students who must have had financial support along the way...which either can be frustrating coming from a working-class background or motivation for me to work harder. I worked for 5+yrs before starting grad school, but contrary to common advice, sort of wish I committed to a grad program right after undergrad. I had thought that grad school would be a pretty rad time for a few years but the chronic low pay, quirky work dynamics (advisor and among peers), and persistently bleak post-school work prospects are starting to take a toll. Anyone else experiencing this, or went through a similar experience? I'd love some perspective especially if you hit the job market/grad school right as the recession hit like my situation.

  7. #7
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    Dabbled with the idea of trying to "do what you love" and eventually decided that instead I'd follow a path that made me enough money to be comfortable but also emphasized flexibility above all else, so I'd have time to pursue my passions (i.e. go ski, mtb and golf a bunch). Do I wish I could get out more than I do? Sure, although that probably has more to do with family life than work life.

    There was definitely some luck involved - there always is.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by TahoeJ View Post
    Dabbled with the idea of trying to "do what you love" and eventually decided that instead I'd follow a path that made me enough money to be comfortable but also emphasized flexibility above all else, so I'd have time to pursue my passions (i.e. go ski, mtb and golf a bunch). Do I wish I could get out more than I do? Sure, although that probably has more to do with family life than work life.

    There was definitely some luck involved - there always is.
    This is similar to me. Definitely not doing what I love for work. But it's tolerable and allows me some flexibility to do what I love.
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  9. #9
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    Pro tip: Nobody is gonna pay you to smoke dope, watch TV and play video games

    Yeah, it's 99%+ Instagram bullshit. I hope most people are fortunate enough to get satisfaction from their occupations. But love? Nah. Many people create a narrative about loving what they do as a means to deal with worldly ennui, but that's a defense mechanism. There's <1% who can follow a passion and make money, e.g., some pro athletes, elite artists, but the "do what you love and the money will follow" shtick is a myth fabricated to sell a self-help book.

    You can check other threads for anecdotes re people who try making a living from what they love, then watching their passion metamorphose into toil. My anecdote comes from my brief stint as a professional musician, when I met an older career pro, a hugely talented musician, for whom playing music had become a struggle like any other shit job. He regretted not learning a trade and playing music part time. And he warned we younger players. Yeah, 1 in 5,000 musicians find good steady gigs as studio players or popular acts with longevity, but those are unicorns. All but a few orchestra players are forced to give lessons or find other side work to survive.

    The other side of the coin: The 70 y.o. senior partner in my ex-law firm with a nice paid-off house and $10 million in the bank who refused to retire because practicing law had become his identity. Fuck that.

    For all but a few, the practical path is to assess your talents, skills and abilities as objectively as possible (i.e., with the help of disinterested others), and find a trade, business or profession that matches your talents, skills and abilities. That allows you to make money more efficiently and with less stress than mismatching your natural acumen (square peg) with the wrong occupation (round hole), which is constant uphill battle.

    IME, doing for a living what you're best at is the surest path to career satisfaction, and you'll have more power to negotiate (or, if self-employed, to structure) schedule flexibility to do more of what you love to do, which, for most, is the surest path to life satisfaction.

    Also, always keep in mind that making a living is a two-way street: making money + spending money. Living within your means will allow you more freedom to do the things you love.

    [/Dutch uncle speech]

  10. #10
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    If you want to do what you love, the easy way is you have to be extremely talented and driven to do what you love. If not, there's a lot dumb people in every field of work, so work much much harder, be more organized, know how to market yourself, and put yourself in places where luck happens to get you to the next level, client, whatever. Again, work hard and let luck find ya...

    And that still may not work. And yes, some people are riding a biz on an investment from a family member, a big windfall from an inheritance, and a bunch of other things you'll never know about. If they didn't they 'd probably be compelled to mention how they did it themselves, ha.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evil E View Post
    I’ve always struggled with this question and figured this forum might be as good a place as any to debate it. Some people seem to be able to pursue their passions and make it all work (or is that just Instagram bullshit?)
    Stop being so coy. Where do you want to live and what do you want to do there?

    Mags are here to help.

  12. #12
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    There is a difference between doing what you love and doing what you are passionate about. If you can make cash chasing your passion, do it. Much of it will still be crap and toil, but it won't matter much, as the passion will pull you.

    Chasing doing what you love never works. As soon as it changes from fun to work the regret sets in. Great song line "if there's something you do well, something you're proud of, better to save some for yourself, if that's allowed."

    I don't "love" my job, in that I don't look forward to every minute of it every day. Much of it drives me crazy. But by god, I'm passionate about it. I go in to the office each day wanting to push forward more and create better things and do right by the folks that have to experience my work.

    My friend who is in a successful touring band and my brother who is a professional coach are passionate about what they do. From the outside it must look like living the dream. Knowing what they actually sacrifice for their job makes it look unbearable to me. But they are both passionate, and therefore wouldn't trade their lives for anything.

    To understand the difference between choosing a job for fun, money or passion read the beginning of the ON3P thread here and see what it took to start that company. A MASSIVE amount of work and sacrifice, and faith.

    Don't chase money. Don't chase fun. Chase passion. Everything else will work out.

  13. #13
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    X2 on not turning your hobby or passion into a job. That has always seemed to me to be a good way to destroy your desire to do it - once you have to perform to meet certain metrics, to produce, etc, all the fun goes out the window.

    At least that's how it was when I went into porn. YMMV.
    Quote Originally Posted by powder11 View Post
    if you have to resort to taking advice from the nitwits on this forum, then you're doomed.

  14. #14
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    Or in reality, you could do what I did (fall into law school because nothing else seemed doable with a poli sci and history degree), and put in a lot of work and stress. I recommend to everyone thinking of law to reconsider and find something else. Money can be good, but the work-life balance can be terrible.
    Quote Originally Posted by powder11 View Post
    if you have to resort to taking advice from the nitwits on this forum, then you're doomed.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by El Chupacabra View Post
    Or in reality, you could do what I did (fall into law school because nothing else seemed doable with a poli sci and history degree), and put in a lot of work and stress. I recommend to everyone thinking of law to reconsider and find something else. Money can be good, but the work-life balance can be terrible.
    Law profession worked out very differently for me. I didn't "fall into it." I was nudged into it by older people (whom I respected) who advised "you ought to be a lawyer" (a backhanded compliment, maybe). I did well in school, got into a good medium size "lifestyle" firm, worked sorta hard for a few years, developed trial chops, a rep, clientele and knowledge of a few industry niches, then was able structure a flexible schedule, then 3/4 time, then 1/2 time, now 1/4 time. Looking back, I'm pretty confident practicing law was one of the easiest ways I could have make a decent living with a flexible schedule and the opportunity to taper into a part time gig starting in my early 50s. I had very stressful patches, i.e., preparing for complex trials, but those trials were usually followed lazy stretches. Yeah, I know, I got lucky, and I'm well aware that law practice is an endless grind for many who pursue it, including many very talented people who could have followed other career paths. Factoid: Half of people who graduate from law school are not practicing law 10 years thereafter.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by TahoeJ View Post
    Dabbled with the idea of trying to "do what you love" and eventually decided that instead I'd follow a path that made me enough money to be comfortable but also emphasized flexibility above all else, so I'd have time to pursue my passions (i.e. go ski, mtb and golf a bunch). Do I wish I could get out more than I do? Sure, although that probably has more to do with family life than work life.
    Good post. For the people out there with a good work ethic and a few brain cells, you can always make money. You can't make time.

    While it is way harder than advertised to get the type of gig where you can fire off a few emails from the chairlift and call it a morning, working towards that kind of flexibility is a great goal.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeezerSteve View Post
    Factoid: Half of people who graduate from law school are not practicing law 10 years thereafter.
    True. Or it may be even earlier than 10 years.

    The ones who suffer the most from law school go in, graduate, pass the bar, get their first job, then realize it's undoable - but still have a pile of debt to pay off.
    Quote Originally Posted by powder11 View Post
    if you have to resort to taking advice from the nitwits on this forum, then you're doomed.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeezerSteve View Post
    IME, doing for a living what you're best at is the surest path to career satisfaction, and you'll have more power to negotiate (or, if self-employed, to structure) schedule flexibility to do more of what you love to do, which, for most, is the surest path to life satisfaction.
    Agree. I don't particularly enjoy what I do for a living, but a number of years ago - after stepping away for a few years - came to realize that I'm really good at it and to just embrace it. And it's definitely true that if you're good, you can absolutely negotiate for more flexibility. My partners are very much aware that I signed up our largest client to date while riding a lift at Alpine Meadows (with an email not a phone call, I hate people who make calls on the lift and force everyone else to hear it). Gotta love smart phones.

  19. #19
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    "Do what you love" is pretty hackneyed - nobody is going to pay me to ski and drink beer. But it's worth finding a job/career that involves doing things that you enjoy doing and are good at. Maybe that's writing, or negotiating, or teaching, or whatever. Take some time to determine what sort of core competencies/skills you have and enjoy and look for something that uses them.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buster Highmen View Post
    Then there's musicians and artists who love what they do. Some can pay the bills, some can't.
    that's true, but I'd suggest most can't pay their bills from music or art alone. It's Berlin, so not the US, but this survey of artists http://www.ifse.de/en/articles-and-s...lin-iii-1.html found for 80% of them art is a loss making business; half earn less than 5000 euro a year from art. It's a hard business and most aren't successful at making a living in it. I suspect the numbers for artists in the US are worse, but that's just anecdotal. I note that a number of US artists or the like are now becoming "teachers" teaching their craft, but that's my cynical sidebitch.

  21. #21
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    You can do it, depending on what it is. I have two great passions: applying mathematics/physics to solve real-world problems and skiing. I have prioritized them at different times and never tried to monetize skiing, but I'd say I'm pretty happy with (most of) my choices.

    The question is whether it's best for you to monetize your passion or whether you'd be happier doing something you like well enough and can make a decent living doing, and then going into semi-retirement, work from home, reduced work-week, etc so you can have more fun doing whatever you want. For example, it's a common myth that the outdoor industry is a great place to work if you love skiing and ski gear. Most people I know in the outdoor industry are underpaid and overworked, and would ski more if they got a job doing something similar (data analytics, digital marketing, graphic design, etc) in a different industry and maneuvered themselves into something flexible. But that's certainly not what you see posted on their instagram accounts. Like Steve and others have said, find a trade/job that suits your talents, but also something you enjoy the day-to-day. I hate mechanical drawing as a day-to-day, but I don't mind programming. I prefer a mix of stuff -- spend some of my time writing code, some of my time on mathematical derivations by hand, and some of my time doing mechanical stuff -- interfacing with hardware, conducting field experiments, etc.

    IMHO, the ultimate goal should be financial freedom via passive income streams. That way, you can really do whatever you want. This doesn't require being a trustafarian.

    My advice for anyone young? Learn to write code in middle or high school. Get a computer science degree on a full scholarship. Start taking graduate level classes your sophomore or junior year and get a "5th year" masters degree by double counting classes in 4 or 4.5 years. Work somewhere like Seattle or Denver until you can figure out how to work remotely from a mountain town. Ski a few hours every day minimum. Live frugally and save/invest aggressively. Take substantial vacation whenever you change jobs.
    "Alpine rock and steep, deep powder are what I seek, and I will always find solace there." - Bean Bowers

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  22. #22
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    Do what you love...or work so you can afford life?
    That is a question I suppose.

    The answer is................ Yes.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danno View Post
    This is similar to me. Definitely not doing what I love for work. But it's tolerable and allows me some flexibility to do what I love.
    Yup. Sounds familiar. Flexibility and a reasonable salary to keep me in the monocle lifestyle I've become accustomed to.

  24. #24
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    One of the things that's still great about this country is that there are a gazillion ways to make a living. With a good work ethic, a little moxie and the will to make it happen the opportunities are pretty much unlimited.

    Everybody's situation is different but if you want to make a change then do your homework, make a plan, set some goals and go for it. It's not that all that difficult.
    The Sheriff is near!

  25. #25
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    After working in the outdoor industry for a number of years and experiencing a tremendous amount of success early, I got tired of my hobby being my job. It was no longer fun for me to ride my bike. Also, a large part of my financial well being was completely beyond my control and after a while, I didn't want to rely on other people who continuously made poor business decisions. Also I saw the warning signs of my former industry shrinking, I didn't want to wake up 20 years later only having worked in one industry and be getting laid off.

    I wouldn't say I'm passionate about my current job but occasionally I get to solve complex business problems and I find that very intellectually stimulating. It certainly helps that the money is better than my old gig and I'd say my quality of life is better now then it was previously.

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