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Do What You Love and Starve?

By Marty Nemko

The career mantra of the 21st century seems to be “Follow your passion” “Do what you love.” Having been career coach to 2,400 people, I believe that too often, people who try to do what they love, starve.

It’s extraordinarily competitive to land a well-paying job in most so-called dream careers: for example, law, investment banking, acting, art, sports, nonprofit work, fashion, or TV. And once in, dream careers so often turn out to be disappointing. Because so many people want to be in those careers, bosses can demand absurd work hours, be unkind, etc.

Sure, if you’re brilliant, driven, are winsome, and/or are well connected, all options may be open to you. US News You Can Use: But let's say you’re a mere mortal. In a less competitive, lower-status career, you’re more likely to find the things that lead to true career contentment: a kind boss, nice coworkers, opportunity to keep learning, a reasonable commute, and a middle-class living. As long as the compensation is middle-class, your contentment won’t be impeded by a lack of income. Study after study shows that beyond a modest middle-class income, additional money doesn’t increase happiness. Yes, for a short while, you will be happier with that new suit or brand new car, but that happiness usually fades quickly. After that, you’ll seek another material fix and that too will soon wear off, whereupon you’ll need yet another fix. Dan Pink, author of A Whole New Mind calls this, “The Hedonic Treadmill.” Ultimately, contentment comes mainly from love and from good work like that I describe in this post.

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