Would you rather have a job that you love but doesn’t pay very well, or a job that pays much better but isn’t quite as fulfilling?
(And for the purposes of this post, yes, they are mutually exclusive.)
This was the question posed recently by Girl with the Red Balloon. It’s a question that I’ve never really pondered over, but have always pretty much known the answer.
I would rather have better pay and a less fulfilling job.
It seems a little harsh to see it in writing—as if I’m somehow going against my generation’s motto that I must love my job. Eat, breathe and live for my job. You spend 40 hours a week at your job, or 24% of your time every week, at your job—you must love it.
But why can’t a job just be a job? Why does it have to be a life calling?
I’ve mentioned before that I’ve had four jobs in the past 4 years. My first job, as a newspaper journalist, was by far the job that I loved the most—and it also came with the crappiest pay, almost half of what I’m making now.
But as much as I loved that job, I knew that a career in newspaper writing seemed futile. And there was no way I could afford to do any of the things I loved—such as traveling, live on my own, not live paycheck to paycheck.
So I ventured off into corporate America. And yes, I’ve had a few duds for jobs. Some I’ve even wanted to rip my hair out of sheer boredom. I hated my last job with a passion. But would I have taken a 50% paycut to go back to being a newspaper reporter?
No, I wouldn’t have. As much as I hated my last job, it still paid the bills and afforded the lifestyle I had.
I’m sure you must be wondering “what lifestyle?” considering all my posts have been about how broke we are. But imagine if my job didn’t pay what it pays and I still had the salary I had four years ago…how much more suffocated I would have felt with all that mounting debt.
While I hated my last job sooo much, it still allowed us to go to Kauai in the summer. It still allowed us to feel like becoming credit card debt free was attainable, not an unreachable unicorn.
Now, I am well aware of how workplace stress affects employees and how much it can hinder my quality of life. For many people, stress in the workplace can cause serious physical and emotional issues, which could hurt my performance on the job and make it more difficult for me to move on to better things.
I don’t want to end up hating my life because of my job, but I feel as though I have been able to separate my work and home life effectively, and therefore, treat my job as a means to an end.
And while I like my current job now, it definitely isn’t going to cure world hunger or solve California’s financial crisis. But this job is allowing us to save more than 20% of our monthly income—and it gives me peace of mind.
And that’s something that my newspaper job could never give me.
SO which is it? Better pay, crappy job or crappy pay, better job?