In recent years, there’s been a trend toward following our passions and doing work we love. Alongside this are labor trends such as working at home than in the office, and working on flexible hours than the traditional 8-hour work day. Indeed, the way we work continuously evolve in the 21st century.
However, the one question that has bothered professionals for centuries, too (this is in fact a fundamental question of career) is this: Should I care more about job stability or passion in the work (pursuing what I truly love)?
There’s not clear-cut answer to this. There’s no solution or formula to this even. At the end of the day, the answer to this question depends on the individual and that particular individual’s material conditions or circumstances or needs.
What are Your Career Priorities?
This is a struggle that many of us face in our own lives. It’s hard to put a price on job stability. In some cases, it makes sense to stick with a stable job for longer because it does offer something known. You know how much you will be paid each month.
On top of that, a stable job often offers other benefits, like subsidized health insurance and an employer match for your retirement plan.
It’s important to understand the choices you make, and to carefully consider what you are willing to do. Say you have a family, it would be more difficult to simply follow your passion and try some other things out. If your financial security is quite established and you do not have commitments yet, following your passion can be a lot easier and rewarding. But not if you have a family.
So, instead of telling you which is better, or which should you value more, let’s talk about some of the things you must consider in choosing passion over job stability.
Job security means being employed at a large, stable company in a comfortable, unexciting role, at least that’s how most people define job stability. Say an accountant or line manager.
Alternatively, working in professions such as law or medicine brings with it a degree of stability. What you gain from genuine job security is the knowledge that you can meet your bills each month.
You won’t be worrying about making the mortgage payment. You may, however, worry about whether you’re wasting your life. That’s the part where job security sucks. Your present job may feed you and pay your bills, but it cannot satisfy your heart.
The danger when thinking “passion” is believing that every single day should be a thrilling, heart-stopping adventure. Even jobs with passion have paperwork.
The key is choosing something that suits you, and that you care about — that’s where the passion originates. With that, you might work harder and longer than you would at a poorly suited job. Taking time to match your abilities and interests to the right role can help you pursue a career where you hop into work every morning feeling excited.
Okay. What if you know that passion is not about being thrilled everyday, but doing something you imagined yourself to be doing for the rest of your life? Say, you are a writer today, but all you ever wanted was to become an educator, but you know teachers in your country don’t get much for salary, nor benefits. That’s a different way of putting passion. That’s being passionate about something beyond mere thrill.
Passion vs. Security
The irony is that for some people, lacking passion in your role can lower your job security. For example, if you start doing the bare minimum at work, lacking any enthusiasm or initiative, your bosses will notice. And they’re unlikely to have anything positive to say about your attitude. In uncertain economic times, no job is 100 percent secure. If you’re not enjoying what you do, it could come back to haunt you.
And again, it comes back to the question of: Can you pay the cost of pursuing want you want over what pays?
Security and passion aren’t dichotomies. Meaning, security and passion can be combined if you work in a role that makes you feel empowered and in control of your own destiny. If a stable job also offers opportunities for promotion and to see the fruits of your labor, you might feel more passionate and fulfilled. If the job just feels like you’re doing something useless that contributes nothing to the world, your passion is likely to drip out of you day by day.
Nonetheless, at the end of the day, it comes back to the basic pragmatis proposition: If you can pay the cost, pay for it. If you want to leave your more stable job to something you are passionate about but a little riskier and unstable than your current job, AND you think you can survive with that, so be it! But, remember, the moral dilemma of this all, is that the question of pursuing your passion or favoring stability is also a question of duty and responsibility sometimes. Meaning, if you have other commitments, say a family, and become seasonally unemployed due to career changes, that is not laudable. That is not worthy of praise of emulation.
And again, it comes back to the question: Can you pay the cost of pursuing want you want over what pays? And, to whose expense?
But, don’t fuss. There’s this we call “part-time passion”. A lot of people are doing this. But, what is part-time passion?
Having a day job, a stable one, is not a hindrance to pursuing what you love. There are people who are happy to indulge their passions in their leisure time, while maintaining a day job to keep the income rolling in.
A friend of mine has been working in the financial sector for quite some time now. But his passion for writing still lives. During his leisure time, he writes the stuff he likes – short stories, poems, and essays (he’s a Palanca Awardee), and he’s doing great at it. He wanted to quit his job, but it pays really well, so he does his writing during his leisure time instead. Ask him if he’s happy about how he does things, he’ll tell you he’s doing great and is very happy and contented.
There’s no clear-cut approach to the dilemma of choosing job stability versus pursuing your passion. There’s no absolute answer. At the end of the day, it depends on your circumstance.
So, just a take home message: Pay the cost you can pay. Live a life worth living, be practical, nonetheless.