Society has almost brainwashed us into believing that we should only pursue jobs that promise the potential to make a lot of money. One author offers advice on how you can work, earn a living, and be happy doing it.
What the Experts Say
Often we choose a job we think will provide us with ample financial benefits or “security.” Unfortunately, once we accept that position, we may not find it satisfying or rewarding. Believe it or not, there are careers that will make you happy and can become lucrative.
Robert H. Frank, author of an intriguing article published in The New York Times, suggests the first step is to become an expert at something. Frank, an economics professor at Cornell, cites recommendations from other professors and psychologists. They encourage their students and patients to focus on an activity that absorbs them thoroughly. Then, they suggest preparing for a career that “entails tasks as similar as possible to that activity.”
Don’t worry about the money. That’s what the experts say. Choose your desired activity (graphic art, building furniture, studying languages, etc.) and practice it and engage in it for thousands of hours. If you love it, you’ll stay interested. The longer you do it, the more of an expert you’ll become.
Your Expertise Will Pay Off
When you participate in an activity whole-heartedly for a long period of time, you will, no doubt, get better. If you become “the best”, your services will be in high demand—thus bringing you higher pay. Additionally, with technology, your skills will be available to anyone, anywhere. Get great at something, and no matter where you do it, your skills will be worthy and profitable.
And even if you’re not making top dollar, doing what you love will bring an unequivocal amount of deep satisfaction. Frank reminds us of a psychological state called “flow.” Flow is when you become completely immersed in what you’re doing, and the rest of the world disappears. Time drifts by, without you noticing, and you get into the flow. Flow is recognized as one of the most intensely fulfilling states we can experience. If you’ve got a job with “flow,” you are one lucky duck.
Are You on a Mission?
When it comes to job satisfaction, it’s also been proven that you have to feel on par with your company’s mission. If you don’t believe in their basic principles, then you can never be completely happy working with them. Frank points out an outstanding example of such a theory.
He describes two possible job scenarios: One is working for the American Cancer Society and writing ad copy to discourage teen smoking. The other is working for a large tobacco company creating ads to encourage smoking. Both jobs offer the same perks and salary. Which would you choose?
When Frank posed this question to seniors in his class, almost 90 percent said they’d choose to work for the ACS. Then, he asked them how much more money would the tobacco company have to pay them to get them to work there instead. Astoundingly, the consensus from the students is that the tobacco job would have to pay 80 percent more than the ASC position.
We all need to earn a salary to survive. But after the basic bills are paid, if you’re happy every day doing what you love, you really don’t need a lot of extra money. A satisfying existence is worth more than being miserable with extra money in the bank, right?
And who’s to say you can’t have both happiness and financial abundance?