Thursday, March 02, 2006

Do What You Love (Because No One Really Knows What Will Make Money)

Do What You Love (Because No One Really Knows What Will Make Money)
Recently, a friend of mine was contemplating a career opportunity. She ultimately decided not to go for it because her heart wasn't in it, though she added, "maybe I'll regret this financially."

I think she made the right decision. Here's how I look at it:

1. You have 20, maybe 30 prime years of your career. That's essentially your working life.

2. If you decide to do something for the money, it will probably consume several years of your life, maybe even more.

3. There's never any guarantee that you'll get the money (there are exceptions, such as professional basketball players, but I'm talking about the rest of us). One of my other friends accepted a position as CEO of a high-profile startup with wads of funding and a fancy 5-year contract with tons of stock. A year later, he was fired.

Let's say that you spend 5 years working on Wall Street so that you can become rich. That's up to 25% of your working life. Maybe you'll get rich. Or maybe there will be a bear market or a merger, and you won't. Either way, do you really want to sacrifice 1/4 of your most productive years?

Let me phrase it in a different way: If someone offered you to give you $10 million in exchange for 10 years of your life, would you do it?

I sure as hell would not. And when it comes down to it, doing something for the money is like selling years off your precious, finite, all-too-brief life in exchange for the *mere possibility* of the money.

To me, that's a sucker's bet. If you must have money, you can still pursue your goal--just restrict your set of possible careers to the ones you can love.

1 comment:

Ben Casnocha said...

Excellent advice. Although the "prime" working years are much longer than they used to be and will continue to expand as kids get smarter and old farts live older, it's still a finite number.