Saturday, August 9, 2008

Either/Or and the Space In Between

I was involved in an interesting discussion the other day regarding dream jobs.  With a few exceptions, it seems that many folks don't do their dream job because:

1. It doesn't pay enough
2. It doesn't pay at all
3. It's a tough field to get into, and the likelihood of them getting into it is very slim
4. Some combination of the above

I posited the somewhat unpopular idea that sometimes having a job that you like enough not to have to talk yourself out of bed in the morning that pays enough to cover what you need, at least some of what you want, and allows you a good life, was maybe enough.  Going back to Your Money or Your Life - work is for money, it isn't the main event.  

Of course, then came the responses, which varied, but many included 'Life is too short to do something you hate'.

Which got me thinking, both about the career debate and life on a broader scale.  Is it really a simple choice between passionate enjoyment and stark misery?  I don't think so.  

There is a ton of grey area between 'I love this so much I can't see straight' and 'Please will I get hit by a Hoodsie truck so I don't have to do this'.  Not just around career decisions, around most life decisions.  Now some folks are fortunate enough to find their passion, get paid for it, and look forward to doing it every day.  Some are determined that their passion is the only thing worth doing, and they use that passion as a gauge for everything they do.  I admire those people.  But....

Then there's the rest of us.  

The ones that make compromises.  To pay the bills. To move to an area that provides them a liveable commute, rather than live in the perfect spot on a lake.  Maybe they vacation at the lake instead.  That even though they had always dreamed of a hot pink kitchen, they go neutral because their spouse hates hot pink with a passion.  And a happy spouse is a good key to a happy life.

My husband and I dream of moving to Maine.  We almost did, before we bought our home.  And then when we started actually putting numbers on salaries and cost of housing, we bought a home in Massachusetts.  Near our jobs, near career growth options.  Is it our dream spot?  No, but we love our home.  We are happy here.  Someday we'll end up in Maine, we know that, but for right now, we made a compromise we could live with.

And in the end, one that we are both happy with, despite the occasional cracks in that when dealing with Massachusetts traffic.  

Are the people who choose compromise are miserable in comparison to those that choose passion?
Not the ones I know.   I know some people who are passionate about every aspect of their lives and are happy.  Others found that when it becomes obligation, wasn't as much fun.  I think everyone has to choose their own path.  Nothing is written.  You don't have to live forever with decisions that don't work for you.   And most of the folks I know that have compromised have found happiness in ways they didn't imagine.  

Are you saying I should do something that makes me unhappy?
I've had the sort of job where I could barely talk myself out of the car in the parking lot in the morning, my boss was such a miserable person.  I don't recommend that to anyone.  But if living somewhere, working somewhere or doing something gives you options to choose something that may make your life better, I say consider it.  If living closer to work means a smaller plot of land but the time to tend that garden you've been dreaming of, is that a bad thing?  Probably not.  

Does that mean I shouldn't seek passion?
Oh seek, definitely seek.  But don't let what's possibly around the next bend blind you to what is in front of you.  Maybe you can throw pots for gifts for friends, rather than having to take the risk of opening a business.  But if that risk is all that will do for you, more power to you.

Besides, you can always change your mind if it's not working - relocate, change careers, open that shop after all.  

Isn't life grand?


Anonymous said...

Haha! As someone who just left MA running to Maine, I can say, that it IS all about priorities. My husband and I just realigned our priorities, gave up the thoughts of a "barbie dream house" for a nice little cape on a nice little street for jobs that allow us to work to live and not the other way around. The traffic, the congestion and the pace of Boston, the work and the life, just got to be too much for us. We are slower moving people who wanted a slower moving lifestyle, if we had to sacrifice a bit to get that (in Maine) so be it! We've been here a month and I couldn't be happier :)

Ms.Moneypenny said...

I think what works for everyone is different, and it is great to hear that things are working for you.

We have no regrets about our decision, and I'm not sure we're looking for a 'barbie dream house', LOL.

Everyone has to choose their own path, it's wonderful that you are happy with yours.