Gema’s Situation: I feel like I can’t afford to take a risk in switching careers because I have student loan debt and no savings and no real property. I want to discover my true passion and figure out how to make money with it.
Gema’s Question: How can I get paid to do something I love to do?
Alison’s Answer: This question cuts to the heart of what many people are wondering, so thank you for your question Gema!
The first thing to recognize is that there are career paths that provide a structured path to financial success. And there are career paths that are less structured in their journey to healthy financial compensation.
For example, you could choose to go through years of medical school and residency and eventually reach a point where you’re earning a decent salary as a doctor. This is a formal professional path with clear steps along the way.
Or you could choose to become a marketing director for a top notch brand. There isn’t a direct educational or professional pipeline that leads you to this outcome. Instead, you’d need to find one of several paths to this end goal that works for you.
The fact that you’re asking the question of “how can I get paid to do something I love to do?” tells me that you’re drawn to a field where there isn’t a clearly structured path to a sizeable salary. (I doubt anyone with a love for practicing medicine has ever asked this question!)
Take a moment to acknowledge that what you want involves a career path that isn’t going to be clearly laid out for you from the get go. It’s going to take effort, a strategic game plan, and a robust network to reach that financial success that you’re craving.
With this in mind, I want you to consider one other concept. In general, there is a career seesaw in the marketplace. On one side of the seesaw is financial compensation. On the other side is fulfillment and personal time/ well-being.
Jobs that involve stress, long hours, specialized skill sets (implying further education), risk, and/or high responsibility are correlated with financial rewards that compensate for these lifestyle costs (aka bigger salaries). Jobs that are intrinsically enjoyable and lower stress are more likely to be linked to lower salaries. Of course, there are high paying jobs with high satisfaction and low paying jobs that are terrible, but generally these two sides of the seesaw move in opposition.
I’d encourage you to take a moment to consider what is most important to you right now. Your question hinted at a desire for financial security, along with a craving for fulfillment. But which one matters most to you at this point in your life, if you really had to choose? There’s not a right or a wrong answer here. It’s totally a personal preference.
If financial security is in the lead for you, that’s alright. You may want to choose a career path that has a more straightforward journey to financial success, even if that means sacrificing some fulfillment.
And if doing work that you love is in the lead for you, that is totally fine too. Because you’re likely going down a non-traditional career path, be prepared to sacrifice and put some skin in the game to get that financial reward down the road.
- What are you willing to go through to get paid to do something you love?
- Are you willing to work for it?
- To invest in it?
- To sacrifice and take risks to get it?
Getting paid to do work you love in a non-traditional career path is not like walking through an orchard and picking a perfectly ripe peach. It is planting the seeds, showing up year after year, enduring losses and gains, and being a steward. You get the fruits of your labor once you do the labor.
So how do you get paid to do something that you love to do (when the career path isn’t laid out clearly in front of you)?
You make sure that doing work that you love is your top priority. If it is, then you buckle down and take steps every day to learn about and work toward achieving your goals. You show up day after day. You make mistakes and fall down and get back up over and over again. You may pay a short term financial price for taking this riskier path. But over time, hopefully, you figure out what works and where your place is in the marketplace. Creating your own path and all the accompanying work, is how you get paid to do something you love to do in this type of situation.
What’s been your experience with getting paid to do something you love? Was it immediate or something you had to work for?
Client Feedback on Working with Alison in a Cardy Career Coaching program:
“Before working with Alison I felt lost and trapped. I was convinced that I would never be able to leave my job and find something more fulfilling. Alison helped me realize that I am a good employee, and that better options do exist.” –R.Z., Technical Project Manager, Career Direction Clarity + Action Plan Client
Each week the Cardy Career Coaching Team is tackling a career question from someone in our community. If you’re at a crossroads with your career and would like to pose a question, sign up for the Step-By-Step Career Change E-Course! There’s a link to a quick survey in the early emails of the course where you can leave us a question. We might just write a blog post for you!