Monday, May 17, 2010

Is Career Everything? Part 2

In my last post about Career, I began down the path of Passion vs Job.
After taking some more time to think about this subject (and due to recent personal job events) I have come to a conclusion.  This conclusion is not linear, so please bear with me.

In evaluating Career vs Passion vs Job, I think a key distinction exists between demographic or relationship/family status. 

The question of the difference between Passion and Career differs whether you are married with kids, single, or married with no kids.  It differs with age, financial stability, and general economic/political timing.
None of these statuses is exclusive when determining whether you should go after your passion or work a job.  They are all interconnected, and can likely exist for a single person throughout different points in his/her life.
This partially pre-supposes that you are passionate about your career choice, and that a job is just a paycheck and means to sustain oneself financially.
When I look at my personal situation, it is abundantly clear that what I do for a living (for the time being) is merely a job, and a means to help support my family.

To illustrate this point, I was asked a few weeks ago: "What is your passion, and why aren't you making a living from it."  I was totally caught of guard by this question for several reasons, one of which was that I did not know the answer.
After taking some time to think about it, I realized that I never really sat down and truly explored within myself to find out what I'm passionate about.  I suspect that the answer is not one that I can come to immediately, but after many hours of reflective thought and self-realization.

As part of this process however, I have begun to realize that it is possible and reasonable to delay or postpone your quest for your passion or a personally rewarding career if you have a family and children.  I'm not saying that they are mutually exclusive, because many people out there are able to both. 

What I am saying is that a large majority of us has to make the choice at some point of whether we pursue our passion or support our family.

In a way, it is the latter that allows us to be at peace with not relentlessly pursuing that passion of ours.  However, inevitably, if it is true passion, eventually that yearning can eat away at you.

As I continue to hone my perspective, and do some reflecting on this topic, I am curious as to where you are in your process.

Have you figured it out?  Are you a parent and spouse that is doing both?  Are you single and not doing either?
Use this blog as a sounding board...I would love to hear your perspectives.

Until next time...


  1. OMG!!!! I ask myself the same thing. Is it possible to do what you love and take care of a family? What is it that I love? I can't answer that either. I do sometimes sit and wonder what would my girls say about me one day. Will they say that their Mom had a meaningless job, but she was always available to meet my needs. Or will they say, WOW my Mom was the best. She held down a career and gave me everything I ever wanted.

    You kno that saying, Beauty is in the eye of the beholder? I think, no I believe, my passion has changed since I became a wife and later a Mother. When I was younger I imagined myself making ALOT of money. That ideal was still present when I became a wife, but my relationship was starting to suffer. But, when my daughter was born, MAN everything changed. The way I viewed myself, my life, my job, everything. So, I say to you JB, it's what you want it to be. My passion is raising my kids, while working at a job to help my husband pay the bills. Do I get joy out of my work outside the home, not really. But, do I get joy out of teaching my girls how to cook or braid their hair or when they ride their bikes for the very first time? I would say YES. I think folks who are very successful outside of the house are missing the richness of life itself. Yes, money can make things easier, but I don't know about you, but growing up my family didn't make great money, but I am sure RICH on memories and love.

    Thanks JB, this is my first time blogging....I think I like it alot:-)

  2. Stefanie Williams5/18/10, 2:53 PM

    It IS so hard to be able to pursue your career passion once you are financially independent, regardless of being single, married without kids, or married with kids, particularly if following your dream requires you to go back to school. I know men with children who have gone back to get doctor degrees at night while also juggling marriage, mortgages, and full time jobs. The kids inevitably came to favor the other parent who was more present on a daily basis in their lives. But it was a short-lived challenge and now the men have been in their passion professions for 20+ years and have had plenty of time to make up for the lost time with their kids + spouse.

    Now that while we know it is feasible to pursue a passion that requires additional education, the question arises as to can you AFFORD to pursue your passion once you have children? If you have a working spouse who makes a decent salary then that helps. But even with a working spouse, the new career might require you to move into a smaller house or make other big changes. Perhaps the passion career is best temporarily to be a passion side job until the kids are grown...

    Some people find ways to pursue their passion careers (like starting a new business) on the side and once it grows big enough then they feel comfortable turning it into a full time job. Is that possible for you?

    I think this whole debate is why so many people these days are waiting to get married and having children in their 30s so they can achieve their career goals prior to having children. But by that time, often those 30-somethings find themselves unable to produce children due to ticking biological clocks!

    I think in general, life requires you to prioritize what is most important to you (family or career) and that should be achieved first if possible. After that, a good financial calculator, day planner, and a little bit of luck can make the rest happen when it is meant to happen!

  3. I agree with you both. The sum of it is that although we have passions, we may not have the means or the time to pursue them for a host of reasons.
    My hope is that one does not fall victim to fear, and therefore gives up the pursuit of passion.
    Instead I hope that we take careful survey of our situations and do the best we can, while keeping our "eyes on the prize" with the hope and measured intent to achieve our passions...

  4. Eric Schmid5/26/10, 6:07 PM

    I'm a guy in my mid 20's without a career, wife and kids, or a known passion. Somehow though I've got plenty of advice to go around! Read on if you will:

    I believe following your passion (if you are one of the lucky ones to identify that)does comes down to fear and focus. Do you fear that by following your dream other areas of life will be negatively affected? Do you possess the depth of focus to align those other important aspects of your life with your passion?

    In the chaos of life I think it is impossible to foresee some changes that cannot be ignored/avoided and thus force us to defer our dreams for a period of time a la langston hughes. The mode I have followed for the past 3-5 years is not to fight this change but to embrace it for what it is and attempt to become a better person for it. It is here where I believe I will find and focus on what is truly important to me (right now its finding a career).

    It is important during this ‘discovery’ phase to evaluate one’s level of effort and focus. When I was much younger I saw myself as a star football player, but I lacked the focus (and in the spirit of honesty we’ll say ‘skill’ too) to make that dream a reality. Now many years later I realize that focus is a quality that can be developed as a very crucial tool in determining our strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, etc.

    However, regardless of how much we focus on a task or goal, we may reach a point in time where our resources (be they material or abstract) are exhausted. It is up to us at this point to make a decision on whether or not to push through these variables to our goal. Operating without these resources will inevitably cost us something else. Be it family happiness, financial stability, physical health, etc, whatever it is something may need to be sacrificed to continue the pursuit. If we are honest with ourselves up until this point it would be in this end that we find what we are truly passionate about.

    ...Did I get the job?

  5. Thanks for that Eric, and I fully agree. For most, following your passion means giving something up. There is no doubt that the hard part is finding your passion from the start. As I've said before, perhaps we delay pursuit of our passion (once we identify it) to a point in our lives when we are READY to pursue it. Until then, perhaps it is a matter of being patient and making substantive steps towards attaining that goal...