Do you choose a career for love or money?

This is the question that everyone stumbles at one time or another in their career. Do you take the risks associated with following your dream or settle for the job that pays the bills?

What we often forget is that this is generally not a dichotomy – although we often want to start a dream career now – often moving into a new career can take time to achieve. And most of the time we need to start from the bottom of a new career before moving our way up to what we consider our dream.

In their blog post, when is it OK to settle for less than your dream job? Beacon Coaching & Consulting outline:

The Pays-the-Bills Job. We all need to keep a roof over our heads and food in our bellies, and many of us support families as well. This takes money, and unless you have an independent source of income, you may need to take a job that pays the bills but doesn’t satisfy your career yearnings. There is no shame in this — in fact, it is quite honourable. And it need not derail your dreams permanently. You may be able to pursue your passion outside of working hours as a volunteer (which may lead eventually to being able to earn a living at it). Even if you never earn a living doing what you love, staying engaged in your passion allows you to continue to grow and develop personally. Continuing to work toward your dream can also help you to keep the ups and downs of a humdrum job in perspective. What you do for a living need not define you; instead, choose to define yourself in terms of your passion. One famous example is Wallace Stevens, who had a day job in the insurance business and wrote some of the 20th century’s most beautiful, challenging, and influential poetry.

The Stepping-Stone or Bridge Job. If you don’t yet have the skills, experience, or contacts to get your dream job, you may need to take one or more intermediate steps to get from here to there. The classic example of the stepping stone job is working your way up from the mailroom. In this scenario an inexperienced but ambitious youth takes an entry-level job in order to learn and grow and move up the ranks to his or her dream job. However, and increasingly common tactic is the bridge job: when someone who is established in a career wishes to change careers and may need to build a bridge from one industry to another or from one role to another, or both. If the career transition is a big leap, you may be better off making changes incrementally, thus building the resume and contacts you need to move into the new industry or new role. (For example, a corporate lawyer who wants to be a literary agent may take a transitional job working as in-house counsel at a publishing house.) In either case, whether you are starting out at entry level or transitioning later in your career, you may find yourself in a job that doesn’t thrill you in order to build the resume that will get you the job you really want. Focus on how to make the most of the job you have: learn everything you can, develop a strong resume, and actively build your network.  And keep your eyes on the prize — the job you really want.

The other thing to remember is that the job market is constantly changing. You may invest time in developing the skills, knowledge and experience to move into a new career only to realise that there is a low hiring period or an increased competitive landscape in that dream career area.

But that of course does not mean you need to give up on your dream. Each of us throughout our career needs to use flexibility and creativity. Because it is through these chance experiences that we learn about ourselves, what we hate, what we love, and makes that dream career move all the more exciting when you make it happen. Of course life is not always set out in stone. It has moments of complete chaos and also spontaneity. And by making new decisions we can often find possibilities that make us happy that may not have been possible if we didn’t take that path when we reached that fork in the road.

So what’s the answer? Love or money? Well it all depends on you. But you do need to pay the bills, you may need to take longer to get to the dream, but don’t forget to have a little fun along the way. And if you make a decision to go with a job you later regret, it’s only temporary; we all have the chance to make a better, different choice for our next career move. What will yours be?