Author Topic: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?  (Read 14797 times)

Aloysius_Poutine

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I'm at a crossroads with respect to choosing the career path I'll follow for the next 15 years before early retirement. I'm hoping you guys can provide some good advice. First, a little about me.

I'm 28. I'll finish my undergraduate degree (BA) in December this year. I'll graduate with $30k in student loans. No consumer debts to speak of. I also have a mortgage on my condo for $177k. I'm Married, and our first baby is coming in June. My wife doesn't work yet. She is planning to finish her degree (BCommerce) part time over the next few years. When the baby is school aged (5 years away), she'll rejoin the workforce, ideally bringing in about $40-50k/yr.

The Boring but Rich Path: Becoming an accountant (Chartered Accountant designation in Canada is roughly equal to CPA in the states). I'll get paid to train for 3 years (during which time I can kill my debts), I'll get a masters degree in the process, and my salary is unlimited if I start my own firm later, which I definitely would do. For example, a family friend owns an accounting firm in my city and pulls in $400k/year.

The downside: who wants to be an accountant? It sounds really boring to me. I love tracking my own spending, but the thought of doing it for 8 hours a day, for someone else, is a little less than exciting.

The Government Job Path: I have the option of taking a 2 year masters program which will allow me to work as a manager in health care IT (which is essentially government in Canada). Good job prospects, excellent security, it plays to my natural strengths and interests, definitely the easier path (less stress) but my earnings are less: I'll start around $55k, and I'm effectively capped around $100k (if I'm lucky). No chance of starting my own business in this field and retiring faster.

So I put it out to you: should I do a job I might not enjoy, but will get me to financial independence sooner? Or should I do something more tolerable, but with a less lucrative earning potential?
« Last Edit: March 02, 2012, 01:25:17 PM by MarkCB »

Bakari

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #1 on: February 29, 2012, 03:19:36 PM »
I don't think there is a "right" answer to that question.

Let me just point out that 100k is an enormous amount of money by any reasonable standard.

Aloysius_Poutine

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #2 on: February 29, 2012, 03:33:25 PM »
I should add that I live in one of the most expensive parts in Canada. A house- something I want to own very badly- costs around $500k. That's for a 50 year old bungalow that will require renovation.

marie

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #3 on: February 29, 2012, 03:59:14 PM »
MarkCB,

I live in the same type of high cost area -- 500K for that type of house.  Boston, US area.

Anyway, you asked for 2 cents so I'll throw mine in.  My first time on a forum by the way.  I went to business school and opted out of being an accountant because I got to the GAAP course and my mind and body froze with tedium.  I was an A student at Boston University so it wasn't inability -- just wow this is really really tedious.

Moving on, I went to law school and ended up a tax lawyer for a major CPA firm.  Horrible people, stressful, treat you like a slave and a manager actually ordered me to empty his wastebasket.  One day researching in the library I notice the divorce tax book was missing and found out it was because the partners and managers all passed it around because:  accountants have an extremely high rate of:  divorce, alcoholism and suicide.

I eventually got a government job as a tax lawyer.  6 weeks vacation time, $100K salary, full health benefits and a solid pension that will also pay 80% of health insurance for the rest of my life. 

will you be able to enjoy that dream of $400k?  Or will you never be home, stressed out, tired and wondering how to get off the treadmill?


Mike Key

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #4 on: February 29, 2012, 04:21:16 PM »
Why do you think you'll hate being an accountant? And look, if you have a little entrepreneurial spirit in you to start your own firm, how long do you think you'll be doing all the work? Is 10yrs worth of hard work worth 30 years of stress free income? VS 40 years of working a mediocre job that is easy?

Starting my business was hard work, but I got to a point where I could actually start outsourcing a lot of the work. I spend more time now hunting down jobs and handling clients than I spend on actual programming because I've farmed out the hard part.

So, are you afraid of hard work? Or does the cost not out weight the benefit?

Besides, anyone can land in a job they hate when they love the field. I was there in IT, I hated it. But I love the field.

marie

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #5 on: February 29, 2012, 04:34:11 PM »
Hi Mike Key,

Your post is what is so valuable about these forums.  It's a perfect counter-point to my post/experience/opinion.
Doesn't it all depend on Mark's makeup?  That's why the more the posts the better, because he can evaluate his own feelings and desires on his life career.  I worked very hard for many years. Put myself through the last year of high school through law school and then another 7 years paying off loans.  My job isn't easy either.  But I knew I wasn't capable of doing what you have done.  I can't manage people.  I feel bad giving less a good tip to a bad waitress.

So it really goes back to Bakari and his wonderfully simple answer that there is not a simple answer.  We can all just jump in and give our experiences and opinions for Mark to digest.


Good luck with your business!

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #6 on: February 29, 2012, 05:25:19 PM »
Sounds like a good plan is to take a good job now, work hard for a few years, pay off the debts, and then see what options are out there.

More student life/debt is a terrible decision. Suck it up. And find the bits of accountancy that are most fun to you.

Aloysius_Poutine

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2012, 12:38:30 AM »
Thanks for your opinions and experiences everyone. Looking forward to hearing more thoughts if they're out there.

I am leaning toward accounting. The idea of learning everything about money appeals to me.

catalana

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2012, 06:12:37 AM »
I think the reality is that any job has good bits and bad bits, so don't put any job into a box labelled either "Great job" or "Rubbish job".  Accounting work can be many things you perhaps don't expect, like creative and people-focused.  Equally IT management in local government might be very stressful at times if you have a tight deadline, and inexperienced staff working for you  ;-)

The way I look at it, to earn the big bucks (in either profession) you are going to have to either be a) highly specialised or b) great at managing people both upwards and downwards.  Oh, and work bloomin hard.

So - first question is, do you prefer working with people, or computers/numbers/graphs/tech kit/software?  If the answer is that you don't like working with people, are a bit ambivalent about numbers, but love software programming then you at least have a start point.

On a personal note, I am an accountant and certainly don't earn big bucks because I work in industry as it suits my personality and interests.  I have gone down the specialist route after getting to management level and realising I prefer "doing" to "managing".  My daily work is an interesting mix of commercial (business systems) and corporate finance work.  I had to experience some tedium while training before getting to a senior enough level for the interesting work.... I am not sure it would be any different in another field.


sol

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2012, 09:06:28 AM »
I don't think any amount of money is worth having a job you don't like, or that adds stress to your life.

If you really love he work that you, then it doesn't feel like work and you can do it for 20 years without effort.

Do you really need to buy one of those 500k houses in the city?  I'd consider renting for a few years and saving up enough to buy a house in a more reasonably priced area.

masont

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2012, 12:54:17 PM »
I did the rat race thing in my 20's, then quit all that to work at a bike shop. 

I love it.  My stress level is way down, I'm actually saving more because I don't feel the need to buy myself crap to make myself feel good (doesn't work anyway), and I'm about 1000x happier.

marie

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2012, 02:33:38 PM »
Good for you!  Nice uplifting story.

Part of what drives us to stressful high paying occupations is what I call culture pressure.  It's very hard and takes courage to assess your own happiness desire and strike out.

arebelspy

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2012, 09:00:51 AM »
Another thing to keep in mind is that all of your external factors can only predict 10% of your happiness.  You can choose to be happy.

So even in a career you don't "like" you can find a good job with a good boss and enjoy it, if you go into it with the mentality that you can like it.
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j3000

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2012, 10:31:14 AM »
I did the rat race thing in my 20's, then quit all that to work at a bike shop. 

I love it.  My stress level is way down, I'm actually saving more because I don't feel the need to buy myself crap to make myself feel good (doesn't work anyway), and I'm about 1000x happier.

This is me as well.  Used to make so much at an office job out of college, but was so insanely stressed constantly (bought lots of toys too to make me feel better but now somewhat regret it because no they didn't work in the end)...I quit and took a different career path and now have a job where I'm not stressed and am so much happier, and don't even have anything close to the desire to buy myself anything.  I do wish I made more though and wonder sometimes what would have happened had I stayed...but not hating life is pretty awesome.

lazydragon

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #15 on: March 02, 2012, 10:52:05 AM »
I think you shouldn't underestimate what one can convince themselves of (and out of) with regards to their passion.  If you tell yourself that accounting is boring, before even really experiencing it for yourself, I feel you are doing yourself a disservice.  So my opinion would be to at least give the CA path a try before going for the gov't healthcare job.

My story may help a little.  I graduated from UBC (yes, a fellow West Coaster originally - is UVic still infested with rabbits? :-) with a BSc in CS and recall having a difficult time getting a job computer programming originally (mid-90s).  I recall being incredibly crushed to be turned down to work at EA (Electronic Arts) as my 'dream job' was making video games.  I eventually "settled" and took a job as a hardware help desk guy, then eventually software programming in financial fields (lotteries then healthcare).  I remember dreading the thought of doing financial programming as being horribly boring and tedious.

But once I tried it, I managed to convince myself of the interesting parts of it.  There still are interesting problems to solve and more importantly, less competition because everyone *else* thinks its boring!  Less competition meant more power to control my working environment (hours, employers, pay etc).  Eventually I found myself really enjoying that industry and I was (and still am!) very very glad I got turned down from working at the video game shop.

Also, your description of working in gov't healthcare is too one-sided.  Try to talk to people who have/are working in government sectors more to get an idea of the downsides.  I currently consult to our government and I know a lot of full-time employees who experience far more frustration, work-life imbalances and more stress than I do.  Sure I don't have their gold-plated pension or guaranteed employment, but I have reasonable savings and a flexible resume that can easily employ me in any country, in a variety of (albeit all IT-related) fields.

As always, good luck with your decision.  Oh and don't be afraid to try a path and change your mind afterwards - gov't loves to hire people with industry experience and vice-versa.  Skills are skills.
 

Nancy

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #16 on: March 02, 2012, 12:02:49 PM »
I took the lucrative job, which is allowing me to pay off my debt, and is also paying for a degree I want in a new field.

Your situation would be a bit different, since it would pay for the degree in the field you're not so sure of. However, you could train as an accountant, get the (I'm assuming) free degree, pay off your debt, save up some money, and then when the three years are up, see if you want to continue in the field, or if you want to go for the other degree, which you will hopefully be able to pay for with your savings from years of mustachian-living. That might sound crazy, but I'm a strong believer that it's never too late to go back to school/shift careers.

Balance

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #17 on: March 02, 2012, 11:11:54 PM »
I think you shouldn't underestimate what one can convince themselves of (and out of) with regards to their passion.  If you tell yourself that accounting is boring, before even really experiencing it for yourself, I feel you are doing yourself a disservice.  So my opinion would be to at least give the CA path a try before going for the gov't healthcare job.

My story may help a little.  I graduated from UBC (yes, a fellow West Coaster originally - is UVic still infested with rabbits? :-) with a BSc in CS and recall having a difficult time getting a job computer programming originally (mid-90s).  I recall being incredibly crushed to be turned down to work at EA (Electronic Arts) as my 'dream job' was making video games.  I eventually "settled" and took a job as a hardware help desk guy, then eventually software programming in financial fields (lotteries then healthcare).  I remember dreading the thought of doing financial programming as being horribly boring and tedious.

But once I tried it, I managed to convince myself of the interesting parts of it.  There still are interesting problems to solve and more importantly, less competition because everyone *else* thinks its boring!  Less competition meant more power to control my working environment (hours, employers, pay etc).  Eventually I found myself really enjoying that industry and I was (and still am!) very very glad I got turned down from working at the video game shop.

Also, your description of working in gov't healthcare is too one-sided.  Try to talk to people who have/are working in government sectors more to get an idea of the downsides.  I currently consult to our government and I know a lot of full-time employees who experience far more frustration, work-life imbalances and more stress than I do.  Sure I don't have their gold-plated pension or guaranteed employment, but I have reasonable savings and a flexible resume that can easily employ me in any country, in a variety of (albeit all IT-related) fields.

As always, good luck with your decision.  Oh and don't be afraid to try a path and change your mind afterwards - gov't loves to hire people with industry experience and vice-versa.  Skills are skills.

If you worked at EA you would have been my neighbor :) I live a block away from EA in Redwood Shores, CA.  We always have big time athletes coming in for all the EA sports games. I have had a few friends work there right out of college but all of them ended up leaving for more lucrative careers. They all agreed that EA is good to put on your resume as a recent college grad but in the Bay Area/Silicon Valley there are bigger money opportunities to be made with that degree and in game creation.

But back to the original topic.  I too graduated with a Business degree and went the finance/accouting route.  I did it for a few years and I honestly got depressed doing it.  I was working in a cubicle all day analyzing spreadsheets and looking at people as statistics. I was 23 and couldn't imagine doing it for 30+ years. The thought of it still gives me chills. A few of my family and CPA friends are majorly stressed during tax season. I opted to start my own business in something totally different than accounting which took a little getting used to but now I am loving every minute of it.  I work about 25-30 hours a week part time from home and in the field. But the best part of it is that if I have a ton of energy I can take on more work and on the flip side I can take less work if I want to just hang out and recharge the batteries. In my opinion humans weren't designed to work consistently the same hours for years on end. Our bodies and our energy levels change, not to mention our motivation levels.  I agree with the other posters in that finding an occupation/calling that inspires you will really make work not really feel like work. I remember the saying that goes something like "Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life". Obviously we all can't be rockstars or NBA players but we can all do something that we have a passion for. Good luck moving forward!

Osprey

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #18 on: March 03, 2012, 01:01:58 AM »
I wanted to chime in with a personal experience:

I am 28 years old, working as a high paying "professional" (think doctor/lawyer/engineer/accountant) and absolutely hating it. There is potentially a lot of money to be made but already my salary is leaking out via buffers to the sucktitude of my life (e.g. fancy food, beach holidays and an expensive data plan). I owe my employer one more year of work, after which I am quitting entirely. I am lucky to have no debt (parents paid for my education and are expecting a return on their investments, which really eats me up with guilt), no kids and a very supportive partner though.

But that's just one person's story of woe...
MMM's latest post is along the same theme. I wish you the best of luck!

WageSlave

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #19 on: March 05, 2012, 12:22:43 PM »
As others have said, if you go into an accounting job thinking it's going to suck, then it's going to suck.  But your post implies you haven't actually practiced accounting, so why not give it a try?

In my experience---though I'm a programmer, I imagine this observation is generally true---the work itself only makes up a small portion of whether or not you like your job.  I've now worked for two different companies since graduating college, and the jobs are practically polar opposites.  Yes, there is some commonality in that both center around writing code.  But neither were 100% all code-writing, all the time.  There's a lot of other "stuff" going on that makes the jobs quite unique: different industries, different company size, different kinds of co-workers, different work atmosphere, different management styles, etc etc etc.

I fundamentally enjoy software development; however, there was a time at one company where the atmosphere was such that I was extremely unhappy, and thought I was done as a programmer.  The short version is, the situation worked itself out, and I still enjoy writing code.  But clearly the environment can really make or break the "subject matter" (programming, accounting, etc) of the work itself.

I would say give the accounting job a try.  Or at least try to network with some people who have gone down that road, and see what they think.  Find someone who loves it, and somebody else that hates it.  Ask them what they love or hate about it, and see if you can pinpoint the facets of their personality that make the job so perfect (or awful) for them.

There is an upside to having a job you hate: it forces you to learn a lot about yourself, and evaluate what's important in your life.  And then when you find yourself in a situation that makes you happy, you appreciate it that much more.  I think about this often: I believe most people need some adversity in their life to push themselves into a place that works for them.  It's the "stick" that makes them want to reach out and try to get the "carrot".  And when you do get the carrot, it tastes that much sweeter.

Gerard

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #20 on: March 06, 2012, 09:33:36 PM »
I'm more worried about your desire to buy that half-million dollar house than about your job options (both of which sound kinda cool). Mighty big ball and chain, restricting your job choices and ability to move for more interesting work. If you end up underwater on a $500K fixer-upper, you may feel forced to take the big-bucks ugly job.

MountainMan

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2012, 10:49:06 PM »
I think it's a very personal decision and it depends a lot on what you think you can handle, and what you want to handle.

I worked nearly six years in an accounting related job until I couldn't handle it anymore.  It was absolute tedium and boredom for me.  The turning point was getting that 5-year plaque from my company and I realized how long I'd spent there. 

That's when I quit (helps to have savings and no debt) to go back to school for IT (specifically linux sys admin / networking).  I figured if I was going to "get stuck" in a job, it might as well be something I reasonably enjoy.  And I do.  I love the classes.  I'll enjoy the job to a reasonable degree too.

I can't predict the future.  Although I plan to be FI by a certain date, I can't say for sure I'll get there.  Maybe some catastrophic health problem crops up that eats up my money.  So if it turns out that I must work in my job for 30 years, at least it'll be something I enjoy enough to do a good job and find good work.  It helps a lot to enjoy your work on some level, it really does. 

I mean, $400k is a LOT of money... but so is $100k. 

Ultimately, it's up to you, of course.

Aloysius_Poutine

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #22 on: March 09, 2012, 10:28:26 AM »
Thanks for all your responses so far everybody. Lots of valuable info to consider when making this decision.

I'm leaning towards becoming an accountant. I can get behind anything, especially if only for 10 or 15 years.

TheDude

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #23 on: March 09, 2012, 10:34:58 PM »
I did the rat race thing in my 20's, then quit all that to work at a bike shop. 

I love it.  My stress level is way down, I'm actually saving more because I don't feel the need to buy myself crap to make myself feel good (doesn't work anyway), and I'm about 1000x happier.

I wish I could say this I had made this jump to a bike shop and it will probably be about 10 more years until I do but I can't wait.


shedinator

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #25 on: March 27, 2012, 05:38:04 AM »
I've mentioned this in brief on a couple othe threads, but the long version seems warranted here:
I've spent the last 7 years gaining education in my field of choice (my passion, if you will). That field is theology, and it more or less qualifies me to do one of two things: Serve as clergy, or teach theology. I have been a clergyperson in my denomination since 2007, putting in full-time hours since 2008, and in that time I have received less than $20,000 for doing so. That's less than $20,000 total, not per year, and over 90% of that came in a one year period. Since May 2010, I have been a full time staff member of my current church for free.
I love it. I could not be happier than when I'm doing my church work. Some day, I hope that some combination of work in the parish, and in a school (I want to do that "teach theology" thing, as well), will pay enough that I can focus 100% of my professional attention on church work. But if that never happens, I'm okay with it.

Contrast that with my paying job. I'm currently working as a supervisor at America's favorite coffee shop. You may know it as the company most frequently referenced by financial talking heads who talk about saving by cutting out small expenses, like a daily latte. Other than the fact that I'm an avid coffee drinker, this job really has none of the qualities I would seek in a place of employment. There is no down time, which sucks for an introvert. There is no interaction on anything but the most superficial of levels. It's a culture where the prevailing wisdom is to bend over backward to make others happy. And it's a place where I'm constantly reminded of how stupid people are with their money. Basically, it has everything I wouldn't look for in a job, and more.

My point here, though, is that you don't have to choose between the thing that's going to pay the bills, and the thing that you'll love (unless the thing that's going to pay the bills is being a doctor, and the thing you love is being a lawyer). And before you toss out a string of "yeah, but..."s, I'm married, with a child, and a full-time student. So yes, there's time in the day for both if you manage your time well. Just be willing to compartmentalize- "I'm doing X because it's the best financial move, but I'm also doing Y because I love it." Focus on the long-term rewards of doing X, and the immediate rewards of doing Y, and remind yourself that you only have to do X until you're FI, which will give you even more time and resources to do Y. Ideally, X and Y will be the same thing, but if they're not, it doesn't mean you have to choose between them.

sol

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #26 on: March 27, 2012, 09:20:47 AM »
I would never take any job just for the money.  Life is too short to choose unhappiness.

If the whole point of having money is so you can be happy, why not just be happy up front instead, instead of selling your soul for dollars that you hope you can trade in for happiness?

WageSlave

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #27 on: March 27, 2012, 01:06:01 PM »
I would never take any job just for the money.  Life is too short to choose unhappiness.

If the whole point of having money is so you can be happy, why not just be happy up front instead, instead of selling your soul for dollars that you hope you can trade in for happiness?

Because happy may be more complex than choosing one job or the other.  I've thought about this extensively over the years, at least in an introspective manner.  Thinking along the quoted lines, at least for me, leads to a "the grass is always greener" kind of emotional trap.  Long before I ever read or even heard about FI, I thought working 30+ years was just they way life was.  And there was a point in one of my jobs where I was completely unhappy.  I thought I had chosen the wrong general direction for my career (and career and life were nearly synonymous at the time).  I read all kinds of books on finding the "right" job (What Color Is Your Parachute and Do What You Are stand out in my memory).

I stuck it out with the job and found I was able to elevate myself from unhappy to indifferent, almost entirely through an attitude adjustment.  The details of the attitude adjustment are too long for this post.  But the point was, I moved my emotional state to one that was more like a blank canvas; it was no longer affecting my thoughts.  In my unhappy state, my thinking was along the lines of, "I'm trapped, I have to get out now, I need to just do something, anything that's not this."  In that state, the grass is always greener---scrubbing toilets sounded more appealing than what I was doing.

After the attitude change, I switched to a more reasoned mindset of, "This may or may not be the place for me, but before I make a change, I should really think about what I really want out of life."  And that line of thinking has made me realize a few things:
  • I can't conceive of any single thing I could do all day, every day---pay or no pay---that would make me happy.  The things that I like doing are many and varied: family, music, exercise, art, reading, cooking, programming...
  • I highly doubt there is one single job that encompasses all (or even half) of those things.  Of course I could work a lot of part-time "topical" jobs.  But without a fully-grown 'stache, I think several part-time jobs means trading a fair degree of financial stability and security for "happiness".
  • But is it really happiness if you love your job, but now find you're worried about money?  Or your overall life is more hectic because you have the different schedules to keep track of?  Not too mention, reduced time efficiency, particularly if you have to physically be at more than one job on the same day.
  • Add to that, I've found that there's a huge difference between doing something you love for the sake of doing it, and doing something you love because someone is paying you to do it.  In my experience, the latter always adds some degree of bullshit that really tarnishes the act itself (such as, the micro-managing control freak boss, unrealistic deadlines, stress of fire-fighting, bureaucracy, being forced to work produce even at a natural creative slump, etc).

I don't want to say the quote above is entirely wrong; it's wrong for some people.  I think people are in general too different to find a single "rule" for how everyone should balance their passions, job, family and time to be happy.

velocistar237

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #28 on: March 27, 2012, 01:33:19 PM »
I'll second Matt's comment. My job is great by most standards, but still, I'm not thrilled with it. Maybe it's just my personality.

If you can find a job where you can endorse your own actions, that has the right level of challenge, and where you can care and feel cared for by others, you can hardly do better. The "passion" factor is a step down from those.

shedinator

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #29 on: March 27, 2012, 07:38:06 PM »
I'll +2 Matt. I've never done somethng that I enjoyed 100% of the time. I doubt I'll ever have a job that meets that requirement. I tend to get the "7 year itch" after about 7 weeks. But I don't bolt at the first feeling of discontentment. If a job supports the lifestyle I'm seeking, and doesn't royally suck, it's enough for me to be overall happy.

James

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #30 on: March 28, 2012, 09:50:51 AM »
I worked for 8 years in nursing and slowly went from enjoying it, to hating it.  I made decent money, around $42k/yr ten years ago, but my wife stayed at home and we just scraped by.

I worked hard to get into an anesthesia program, took on $64k in debt, and lived simply for a couple years during school.  I now make $200k/yr doing what I love.  Of course I didn't know I would love it at the time I picked it, but I had hope that I would.

My only point is that sometimes you can find the best of both worlds and make more by doing what you love.  I think it's an important point for young people looking for a career, it's very important that you look down the road and give your future self options.  Obviously not everyone can guarantee a quadrupling of their salary with 3 years of school by doing what they love, but those possibilities shouldn't be counted out either.  I knew at the time I decided anesthesia there was no going back, and it's possible that I could have ended up hating it.  But I'd be hating it for what I thought at the time would be triple my salary.  :)  Those things do make a difference, so I would answer your question with a highly qualified "yes".
« Last Edit: March 28, 2012, 09:54:28 AM by James »

nondualie

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #31 on: March 28, 2012, 10:57:37 AM »
There may also be something to be said for getting "into" a career and then moving from there.  Once you have some work experience under your belt, you may be able to leverage into a position that is a better fit for you.

In my experience, much of being "happy" at work depends on those you are surrounded by, your environment, and who you report to...once you are a bit of an expert or at least have a little experience on your CV, you'll be able to get a bit more deterministic about that stuff.  It's hard to jump into an organization immediately though and just luck into a great situation.  Same with starting a business.  It takes time and mastery.  The link to Cal Newport's stuff was good too.

Anyway, I'd say you need to take a chance on something and see where it goes.  Keep your options open, but don't be afraid to try something new/different.  No job is "forever".

Note: these are all things I need to learn/live too!  I could easily start a post called "Is it worth STAYING in a carrer you don't like just for the money?"  But I'll get there, learning to be patient and find the right next-move.

AJ

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #32 on: March 28, 2012, 06:29:24 PM »
My point here, though, is that you don't have to choose between the thing that's going to pay the bills, and the thing that you'll love...So yes, there's time in the day for both if you manage your time well. Just be willing to compartmentalize-

Whether this is true is highly dependent on what your job is and what you love, and it isn't just about time management. My job requires all my mental energy, and I'm totally cognitively spent at the end of the day. That would be fine, if my passion was hiking or biking or something physical. That would be great, actually, because I could expend all my mental and creative energies sitting at my desk 10 hours a day making money, then blow off steam at night with my physical hobby. However, both my job and passion require mental energy, and I don't have enough for both, even with all the time in the world. At the end of the day, my job has taken all my creative juices. It would be like if my passion was ultra-marathon running and my job was farming (or something else really physical). Sometimes, there's just not enough resources for both. The best job I ever had was being a table-busser at a busy restaurant. Once I learned the job, my body just worked on auto-pilot and my mind was free to wander. Unfortunately, bussers make a lot less $$$ than programmers.

That's why this is such a hard question. Do you try to balance your work with your hobbies and (usually) accept a lower-paying job, or do you power through a few years at a high paying job to free up the rest of your life for your passion(s)? Personally, I'm on path #2, but it remains to be seen if that was/is a good choice.

travelbug

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #33 on: March 28, 2012, 09:39:20 PM »
I agree also with what Matt has posted.
We are on the treadmill working long hours in our own business and have almost reached our financial goal.
It has not been honey and roses, but the freedom we are chasing, true financial freedom takes hard work and only through that will the FI mean anything.
I would suck it up for a certain amount of years, really knuckle down with an end goal in sight, and go for it.
Also, being self employed will add leverage to your income stream and hopefully help you get there quicker.
Good luck OP.


Aloysius_Poutine

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #34 on: March 30, 2012, 02:19:52 PM »
So many well considered perspectives here. In case you're curious, I'm going to become an accountant. It's the most sensible thing to do, and I'm sure I can be not-miserable with the right attitude.

Thank you to all who've contributed to the discussion. Please keep your perspectives coming. This is an interesting topic generally, and I'm seeing there are as many perspectives as individual experiences. Go figure. ;)

MMMdude

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #35 on: April 02, 2012, 11:00:30 PM »
Well, this hits close to home as I'm a CA.  I will say the $ is good, but it has taken 15 years to get where I am.  I am not in public practice anymore so not pulling in a crazy partner salary but definitely very comfortable where I'm at.   The Good - it will allow me to hopefully retire at 45 or at the very least switch to a part time or consulting role as there are decent opportunities in this field for that.  The Bad - at my job I am either bored out of my skull (humans are not designed to sit at a desk for 9 hours per day) or extremely stressed with month end deadlines, staffing issues, etc.  Also to be honest I find alot of accountants a pain to deal with - usually Type A personalities who can't focus on the big picture.  There are times where I would just like to walk out the door and do something else but I think about what the next phase of my life will be in 10 years or so which will involve alot of time on a beach so I grin and bear it. Monday mornings are brutal to get up for though...

One last thing - I articled for both a small and mid sized firm (not big 6) and the partners who are making the big bucks literally had zero life going for them.  Multi-millionaires but working weekends, in late during weekdays, crazy hours during tax season - no thank you!!
« Last Edit: April 02, 2012, 11:07:28 PM by MMMdude »

JennC

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #36 on: April 03, 2012, 10:27:15 AM »
Hi Mark,

My husband is a CA and started out working for PWC once he finished school. When he realised that working for the big audit firms usually meant being on the road for the bulk of the year, he decided to work at a smaller audit firm which kept him off the road for a majority of the time. He continued to do so for about 4 years and had his eye on working his way up the accountancy chain.

He took a position in another province with the same company when we moved several years ago. It was a smaller outfit with significantly fewer coworkers; a prospect that was not unappealing to him at the time. The work itself was the same. As time progressed, he was unhappy with his work and realised that his prospects for advancing within the company were slim. During one of his audits, a client approached him and asked if he would be interested in acting as CFO for a small company. After weighing pros and cons, he took the job and is currently acting as CFO for several small companies. The work can be stressful and due to the nature of the companies, there is a lot to learn that he had not covered in his schooling. The challenge keeps him interested in the work and the remuneration is significantly higher than if he had stayed in his previous job. He also has his own small business and takes care of small business taxes, end of year kind of stuff.

My husband originally wanted to be a teacher. I have no doubt that he would have felt challenged and content with shaping young minds. However, we would not be in the financial position we are currently in, eyeballing an early retirement. He fell into chartered accountancy and turned something he himself felt was tedious and monotonous into something dynamic and interesting.

As for myself, I originally studied environmental science because I wanted to save the planet and had big ideas about what we should do to achieve that. Several years of working on piddly government grant contracts, with the continuous looming potential of having funds cut and projects ended and my kiester booted out on the street and I was ready to change vocation. I went on to study something in healthcare that got me a permanant fulltime job with full benefits right out of school. Is it my passion? No. I love birds and tree-hugging. But I do feel my job is fulfilling and I do like the money coming in and the pension is nothing to sneeze at. And I pursue my real passion when i punch out at the end of my workday. It doesn't have to be an either/or; life is often balance.

WageSlave

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #37 on: April 03, 2012, 11:42:20 AM »
During one of his audits, a client approached him and asked if he would be interested in acting as CFO for a small company. After weighing pros and cons, he took the job and is currently acting as CFO for several small companies. The work can be stressful and due to the nature of the companies, there is a lot to learn that he had not covered in his schooling. The challenge keeps him interested in the work and the remuneration is significantly higher than if he had stayed in his previous job. He also has his own small business and takes care of small business taxes, end of year kind of stuff.

I always like reading stories like that, and I think there are (at least) two take-aways from it:
  • It reinforces the old cliche, "Fortune favors the prepared."  That is, no matter what your job or whatever you do, if you do good work, and have a generally good personality, interesting opportunities will find you (rather than you having to go look for them).
  • Besides pay, another way to look at any potential job is opportunity potential.  Of course, it's common sense that you consider growth opportunities with any new position, but also think about external opportunities.  E.g., will the position put you in contact with a lot of different people and/or organizations?  And will you have a chance to demonstrate your good work and charm?  That could turn what appears to be a lousy job into a springboard for something bigger and better.

Aloysius_Poutine

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #38 on: April 03, 2012, 11:51:53 AM »
^Yes and ^^yes!

Thanks for the comments. I'm reading Benjamin Franklin's autobiography. What stands out is the excellence with which he performed every job he had. He first learned a trade, then leveraged both his expertise and contacts to continually advance his position.

That's what I think I'll do with accounting. Become an expert in the profession, do very good work, and see where else it takes me. I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit, so I'll probably end up running my own businesses. Being financially literate will be a huge bonus.

Richard3

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #39 on: April 08, 2012, 04:37:50 AM »
The answer, as with any question that involves personal preferences, is "It Depends".

How much money, how much do you dislike the job, how enjoyable is the alternative, etc?

Personally I've stuck it out at a job I have mixed feelings about in a place I have mixed feelings about for the money and the potential future of working part time and remote (which is the dream for me).

I'm not sure it's the right decision, I've been pretty down at times but I never really had a better plan and it looks like it will have been worthwhile.

Tyler

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #40 on: April 08, 2012, 03:20:53 PM »
Work takes up such a large percentage of your life that doing something you hate just isn't worth it. And in my experience, doing what you love pays off in the long run because that passion makes you more dedicated to your work, which over time is recognized and rewarded with raises.

For the more pragmatic that believe "everyone has a price", here's a simple test:

If I offered you a potion that allowed you to love the job you have right now, what would you be willing to pay for it?  If you'd pay more than the delta of simply switching jobs, then what's holding you back?

James

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #41 on: April 09, 2012, 10:00:58 AM »
If I offered you a potion that allowed you to love the job you have right now, what would you be willing to pay for it?  If you'd pay more than the delta of simply switching jobs, then what's holding you back?

I agree that's a good way of considering the options, but you left out a very vital consideration, RISK.  If it was as simple as you say then many more people would love their jobs.  But Many people go into a job thinking they will love it, and then eventually don't.  Or they love their job and then the boss quits and an evil boss replaces them.  Or the job stays they same and they change.  Life is like that.  So in the end if all is equal then I wouldn't suggest changing jobs because risk is the tiebreaker.  How much value you give to risk is the big unknown in the equation...

Tyler

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #42 on: April 09, 2012, 12:04:09 PM »
True. There are no guarantees in life, and everyone has a different risk tolerance. A great new job could turn sour, and you may be back to where you are now. Or it could be better than you imagined and you'll never know because you're too afraid to try. A good test to decide what is right for you is to evaluate which one would keep you up most at night.

However, if you stay in a job that makes you miserable solely out of fear, there is a 100% chance you'll be unhappy. And of course there's no guarantee you won't be laid off despite your dedication.

For me, the entire point of the Way Of The Mustache is to recognize that money doesn't buy happiness and to reclaim control of your own life from the Matrix.  Regarding work, that means for me doing what you enjoy (to the extent you are able) and giving the middle finger to the Man who would buy your soul for a few pieces of silver.

Other people may come to different conclusions. Good for you!  As long as you are confident you are making the best decision for yourself and your family based on your current situation (and NOT fear) then I'm sure you'll be fine.

ed

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #43 on: June 13, 2012, 06:04:16 AM »
Good luck Mark, think you'll do fine.  A close relative of mine bounced around a few careers before trying CA.  He spent about 3 years doing audit work for a big firm you've heard of while he got certified.  A year later he was general manager of  branch of a multi-national in a series of small countries in the South Pacific with duties that ranged from financial work he was more or less trained for through to organising PR events and hiring models, through talking to regulators and even proposing legislation - the full gamut of running a business - and his CA training was the catapult that launched  him into the role, which he otherwise wouldn't have had prayer of landing. 

Aloysius_Poutine

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #44 on: January 24, 2015, 12:04:45 AM »
3 year update, in case anyone was curious.

I took a government job without getting a masters degree. I made $55k, $59k, and $61,500 the 3 years I worked there. It was an OK job, but government work is not for me. I didn't have any motivation to climb the ladder there, and the salary was too low to accelerate FI.

So I started work at an accounting job last week making $42,500 (it will go up to $55k the year before I write my exams). I'm doing the CPA courses, and in 3-4 years I'll be an accountant with an unlimited earning potential ahead of me. I am totally overwhelmed by how much I don't know about accounting, but I can already tell I'm going to like this job.

It took a long time to get here, but I'm glad I tried something and ruled it out. And if anyone is on the fence about accounting, it's not as bad as you imagine. In some ways it's actually really cool! I work in a small public firm, so if you're in a big firm of course ymmv.

marty998

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #45 on: January 24, 2015, 04:26:34 AM »
Accountant here, in big corporate.

High pay (relativish for my age and in comparison to most of society), hours are not too tragic. Choose the right company and  it's quite a bit of fun.

Choose the wrong one and yeah, you'll lose most of your hair and hit the bottle.

amyable

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #46 on: January 24, 2015, 07:38:11 AM »
I would never take any job just for the money.  Life is too short to choose unhappiness.

If the whole point of having money is so you can be happy, why not just be happy up front instead, instead of selling your soul for dollars that you hope you can trade in for happiness?

I feel this way as well.  I understand people who choose another path, but I could not spend any significant amount of time in a boring job waiting for Friday every week, even if my eventual goal was FIRE.  I know myself, and it's not something I could do.

I don't make much money (about $48K in a LCOL area), but I love what I do and know I make a difference.  Having less wealth is worth it to me.

mozar

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #47 on: January 24, 2015, 09:54:22 AM »
Yay updates!

I got into accounting because I was freaked out about having 100k in student loans and accounting seemed like a sure thing. I started in external audit which had terrible long hours and people were really mean to me. I was "fired" after 18 months. It was really a lay off because of the recession but for whatever reason (just to be cruel?) they decided to fire each person individually instead of laying off 75% of their staff.

After 9 months of looking I was able to get a job in advisory (consulting). Easy hours but not enough work so I was really bored. I quit because I was burned out from my part time job. Next job was doing internal audit for the government. Easy hours but terrible people. I quit to go to a advisory job at a mid size cpa firm. I'm doing OK. People are decent but I have to travel 25%. 40 hr week, 4 weeks vacation, 75k base, I'm not a cpa.
I'm still learning accounting 7 years later. People don't expect you to know everything. But you'll get paid more as you learn more.

Letj

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Re: Is it worth getting into a career you don't like just for the money?
« Reply #48 on: January 24, 2015, 10:31:43 AM »
I'm at a crossroads with respect to choosing the career path I'll follow for the next 15 years before early retirement. I'm hoping you guys can provide some good advice. First, a little about me.

I'm 28. I'll finish my undergraduate degree (BA) in December this year. I'll graduate with $30k in student loans. No consumer debts to speak of. I also have a mortgage on my condo for $177k. I'm Married, and our first baby is coming in June. My wife doesn't work yet. She is planning to finish her degree (BCommerce) part time over the next few years. When the baby is school aged (5 years away), she'll rejoin the workforce, ideally bringing in about $40-50k/yr.

The Boring but Rich Path: Becoming an accountant (Chartered Accountant designation in Canada is roughly equal to CPA in the states). I'll get paid to train for 3 years (during which time I can kill my debts), I'll get a masters degree in the process, and my salary is unlimited if I start my own firm later, which I definitely would do. For example, a family friend owns an accounting firm in my city and pulls in $400k/year.

The downside: who wants to be an accountant? It sounds really boring to me. I love tracking my own spending, but the thought of doing it for 8 hours a day, for someone else, is a little less than exciting.

The Government Job Path: I have the option of taking a 2 year masters program which will allow me to work as a manager in health care IT (which is essentially government in Canada). Good job prospects, excellent security, it plays to my natural strengths and interests, definitely the easier path (less stress) but my earnings are less: I'll start around $55k, and I'm effectively capped around $100k (if I'm lucky). No chance of starting my own business in this field and retiring faster.

So I put it out to you: should I do a job I might not enjoy, but will get me to financial independence sooner? Or should I do something more tolerable, but with a less lucrative earning potential?

I don't know what it is like to be an accountant in Canada but I am an accountant in the US and I lead a pretty stress free life and enjoy what I do. I was not and still not cut out to be the typical accountant but I've found that even within accounting you don't have to be the stereotypical boring accountant. You can work directly supporting the business with their budgeting and other financial decisions and not necessarily in audit or general ledger accounting. I have my first degree in a field not remotely close to accounting.  However, when I saw how much money accountants and other people in Finance were making, I decided to be an accountant and it has woked well for me. If it wasn't for this career, I wouldn't be in this really good financial shape. I think it depends on the corporation you work for, your attitude and the people you work with. Doing what you like is overrated in my opinion.