Do You Work for Passion or a Paycheck?

2 Apr

A comment on my recent post about How Unemployment “Failure” can Lead to Success, got me thinking more about whether it’s better to pursue a “safe” career path, or really follow your passion. When you are unemployed, any job with a decent paycheck starts to look appealing, and it seems self-indulgent to want something more than just a decent living in this economy. 

But, my favorite success stories about people surviving unemployment are the stories where people really follow their passion and end up on a totally different path. I realize that this isn’t for everyone, but if you are going to spend a significant amount of your time working, wouldn’t you like to enjoy your job, or even love your job?

At a previous employer, I worked with a lot of people who lived only for the weekends. They hated their jobs, and for some of them, I would argue that the stress from work was taking years off of their lives. This doesn’t seem like a great way to go through life. I wondered why they stayed in their jobs, and why they didn’t pursue something that would be more rewarding to them.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand how having a good job in this economy, whether you enjoy it or not, is something to cherish. But, being unemployed gives you a lot of time to think about life, and what is really important.I have my own opinion on this subject, but I want to hear from you.

Did you purse your career path for passion or because  you can earn a decent living at your job? Is your work for a decent paycheck and you purse your passion outside of work? What made you choose your career path? Is it more important to love your job or make good money? Do you have a job that you love and you make good money? What advice would you give to those starting out in their careers or considering a career change? If you are unemployed, do you think you will end up on a different career path after your unemployment experience?

I would love to hear your thoughts, advice, and comments on this topic.

photo credit: Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton via photopin cc


20 Responses to “Do You Work for Passion or a Paycheck?”

  1. Rebecca Fraser-Thill April 2, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

    I chose my job because of passion, as did my husband. This worked just fine before we had a child, but finances are tighter with a kiddo around and we’re both feeling like having more of a “paycheck” would be nice…It’s a very hard balance to strike, and I feel like I’m struggling at the moment.

    • Lisa M. April 4, 2013 at 8:08 am #

      Rebecca, thanks for your comment. I agree that it is a hard balance to strike. Having financial stress is no fun and can take away from being able to enjoy what you are doing.

  2. Razwana April 2, 2013 at 11:19 pm #

    Hi Lisa. I didn’t take the ‘follow your passion’ route – I used the ‘follow your skills’ route – and I didn’t do this consciously at first!

    I have a lot of passions, from music, to yoga, writing, etc. But none of these, to begin with, were appealing as career paths as I wouldn’t want to do them full time. That’s the flaw with the ‘follow your passion’ advice – when does it stop becoming a passion and start becoming a job, with tasks that you just don’t enjoy doing?

    I realised in the first job that I had that I was a really good organiser. This then gave me some focus and I decided to focus on project management in my field and I spent some years developing that. It didn’t start off as a passion, but I made it a focus to ‘get really good’ at something. Being able to do something well is rewarding, and gives the same feelings as following your passion – achievement, high self esteem, enjoyment, etc.

    Now that I feel established with some room to improve of course!), I can spend time focusing on passions and seeing where they take me.

    That’s my version, anyhow!

    – Razwana

    • Lisa M. April 4, 2013 at 8:51 am #


      Thanks for the comment and your insight! I also love yoga, and this blog has been a great reminder as to how much I love writing. But, I do wonder if i would love writing as much if I had deadlines or if someone else was telling me what I had to write about. Would I love it as much if it was a full-time job?

      I can see how your job is rewarding to you. Do you have plans to create a side-income with your passions, or are you just pursuing your passions for fun?


      • Razwana April 5, 2013 at 2:42 am #

        I am earning side-income from it now! I definitely believe that multiple-sources of income is the way to go and I don’t currently want to make ‘my passion’ (i.e the blog/services) a full time gig. But you never know!

    • Lisa M. April 6, 2013 at 9:09 am #


      Do you make money from advertising on your blog, affiliates, or from the services that you provide?


  3. Vishnu April 3, 2013 at 12:10 am #

    Lisa – I’ve left 2-3 times from decent paying jobs to do what I enjoy doing. I cannot do work I don’t enjoy doing but everyone may not have the luxury of doing that. Sometimes, one has certain education, skills or circumstances that doesn’t allow them to switch they to work they can be passionate about. Now, I don’t use the professional degree I pursued or do even a bit of work related to what I studied for. i could make significantly more in the other field but chose not to and happy/content about the decision. I’m fairly certain that when we do work we enjoy and are passionate about, we will reap the financial rewards. And in the meantime, we’ll be loving our job and wanting to be there everyday!

    • Lisa M. April 4, 2013 at 8:55 am #


      I think I am like you in that I really need to enjoy what I am doing. Sometimes I wish that I could be one of those people who just goes to their (un-challenging, an un-interesting) job and seems content with just getting a paycheck. But, I like to enjoy my work, feel like I am being challenged, and most importantly always learning.

  4. Colleen Reagan April 3, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    I followed an interest to get into my field, and was able to become experienced in an area that is always interesting and ever-changing. The majority of the time, I like it — but the more I read about people pursuing their passions, the more I feel as though I’m missing out on this experience! Right now, being happy in life with a good work-life balance is what’s important to me. It also makes a huge difference if you working for a company that you believe in, with people that area smart and challenge your skills. If I am able to turn a passion into a career, I would certainly be willing to take that leap! But without an idea of what that might look like, it would be difficult to make the change.

    • Lisa M. April 4, 2013 at 9:00 am #

      Colleen, thanks for your comment! I am in agreement with you that a good work life balance is really important. I also agree that believing in the company or organization that you work for can make a big difference. And, the people who you work with can make a huge impact on how much you enjoy your work. But, how do you know before accepting a position what the culture of the organization is like or what your coworkers will be like?

  5. Greg @ April 4, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

    I actually just posted about doing the things that are your passion on the side and get paid for them. That is what works for me. Stick with the day job that pays more, but don’t give up on the other things. Who knows, someday the passions’ income could overtake the day job, but I think it is good to be responsible about it.

    • Lisa M. April 6, 2013 at 8:13 am #

      Greg, thanks for your comment. I read your post on this and you have some really great ideas. I think have a good day job, and some side income is the ideal situation. I think a post on your income from these different activites could be really inspiring to people.

  6. Alisa Booze Troetschel April 4, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

    I believe it’s vitally important that your work be meaningful, enjoyable and rewarding. For me, that translates to improving the quality of other people’s lives through journalism or developement or environmental organizations. I don’t expect a high-paying position from any of these employers. We just simply spend too much time at our jobs for them not to enrich us in intangible ways.

    • Lisa M. April 6, 2013 at 8:16 am #

      Alisa, thanks for you comment. I am in agreement with you that we spend far too much time at work for it not to be meaningful, enjoyable, and rewarding. But, I am also conscious of the income side. I try to find the balance between earning a good living and having a position that is challenging, rewarding, and something that I enjoy.

  7. erinshelby April 5, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    Making a career change is tough, isn’t it? For your readers who love spending time in the kitchen, here’s something that might show them with some viable options:

    • Lisa M. April 28, 2013 at 9:01 am #

      Thanks for you comment Erin and the resource!

  8. Rachel Lavern April 6, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    Hi Lisa,

    I worked for years for the money; however, there was no passion in my work. I am happy to say that I am not doing work that I am passionate about and it makes all of the difference! Without passion, we are condemned to mediocrity. It became very clear to me…. do not settle for mediocrity! Our life is a gift from the Universe and to squander our own unique inner gift of passion would be the biggest mistake of our life in my opinion.

    The 16 Habits of Highly Unsuccessful People

    • Lisa M. April 28, 2013 at 9:02 am #

      Thanks for your comment Rachel! I am happy to hear that you have found passion in your work!

  9. Rohit Sharma April 10, 2013 at 11:31 am #

    We all subscribe to the fact that passions adds joy to your life.

    You have to be careful, your passions may take you nowhere unless you turn them profitable

    • Lisa M. April 28, 2013 at 9:03 am #

      Thanks for your comment Rohit. Yes, I believe it is important to have that balance between what you are passionate about, but realistic in the income sense.

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