What do you work for? Passion or Money?

If ever there was a loaded question ever, it has to be this one – what do you choose while choosing your profession? Passion or money.

Trust me, it’s not a simple A or B answer. Sometimes following your passion can mean a life of joy, creating wealth while doing what you love. On the other hand, for some people it could mean a life of frustration, getting nowhere with the said passion.

How then do you decide?

My Story

While in school, thanks to a great teacher I developed an interest in history. With my parents’ encouragement to study what I like, I went on to enroll for graduation specializing in history. At that point, my biggest dream was to decipher the script of the earliest Indian society – the Indus Valley Civilisation. In my first year I realized I had been a little naïve as it had been attempted enough number of times and with no translation to a known language, there was very little possibility of succeeding there.

At the same time, I was a big sports enthusiast. I was an athlete in school, played volleyball and watched cricket, tennis and any other remotely exciting sport on TV. Gradually I got the idea in my head that I want to be a sports journalist, knowing well enough that there was no chance to be a sports person at this stage.

My father was then working with IBM as a consultant for media services and as a third-party provider, he knew the industry well. He tried to talk me out of it. Passions cannot be easily talked out of. He then did the next best thing – gave me a taste of it.

He got me an unpaid summer internship with a local Hindi news channel called S1. I got a fair amount of exposure there and was sent on assignments to cover Delhi University college admissions. After a 2 month stint, I realized that the field might not be for me. True, the view I was shown was probably a little tinted, but the sheen had faded.

Then with his expert gentle nudges, my father steered me towards the idea of an MBA. I had always loved watching advertisements or even looking at collections of witty print ads. I thought marketing was something I would like to do. So, I gave my entrance exams for MBA in my final year of graduation and ended up getting admission in a good college in Mumbai (NMIMS). Now, it’s been 8 years since I have been working as a marketer.

Now my passion has shifted again, from marketing to Personal Finance. With the CFP degree under my belt, I am still trying to figure how that will manifest in my work.

How to decide if you should pursue your Passion?

In the throes of your passion for a field, while wearing rose-colored glasses, everything seems to point you in the direction of pursuing your passion as a livelihood. But some rationality will help here. Ask yourself these questions:

What is the probability of success?

In a lot of fields, especially the creative ones, very little cream floats on top of the milk. Extremely few people really make a mark or any money.

One of my friends told me how her husband was really good at lawn tennis and used to win quite a few tournaments as a kid. Once he passed out of school, he realized that traveling all around for tournaments was taking a toll on him and his family and it might never amount to an international career. He settled into the regular route of MBA.

At a fork in your life, take a rational stock of the situation and understand the probability of success. If you think you will make it, by all means, go for it.

What does the life entail?

A lot of jobs look glamorous from outside but are not what they are touted to be. While I have talked about my reality check, that’s not the only one.

A lot of girls are enamored by the idea of becoming an air hostess, just for the opportunity of travel. However, the demands of the job on the body are many, what with the non-stop travel and completely warped body clock in case of international travel.

Talk to someone who has been there, done that to understand what you would be getting into.

How important is money to you?

Succeeding in some passions will pay, in some, it won’t. You need to know how important money is for you.

Are brands important? Do you like splurging on experiences? Is your passion one which will pay?

What if your passion does not become your livelihood?

There are enough people who forego their passion for a livelihood. I know a colleague who is an architect by graduate degree and passion but a banking marketer as it had a better chance of livelihood. If you are one of them, what do you do? Live a life of regret and bitterness? I don’t think so.

Passion can be continued on the side

Today, in the era of digital enablement and side hustles, there is very little that stops one from continuing their passion. To me, this blog is an expression of my passion for writing and personal finance. If the passion is truly there, it will find a way, monetized or not. So many of the Indian writers today have succeeded by writing on the side of their day job.

Passions change

From my personal experience, and I would like to believe I am not the only one out there, passions change. You never know what life has in store with you. Something you said never to, ends up becoming your thing (I am looking at you, Personal Finance).

Passion can be created

This is not the easiest and neither is it always true. However, when you force yourself into pursuing something you might not have wanted initially, it is possible to actually like it. Read up on the subject and there are bound to be interesting trivia, research or work being conducted in the field.

Passion or money? What is your story? Let me know in the comments below or email me at aparna@elementummoney.com