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Passions & Priorities

By high school I pretty much knew that I wanted to do something related to economics, money, or financial services. I was really interested in how businesses are run and how economic conditions affect them. I even wanted to work at the Federal Reserve at one point. I had no family connections to get into the business world so I didn't have a straight or easy career path.

In college, I took on any job I could to make money and allowed me to gain skills (and confidence). I worked all over my college campus. I taught a weekly freshman orientation course for a year and spent several semesters as a tutor in the tutoring center. This work experience helped me land a finance internship and I would go on to work in positions that kept broadening my scope of finance and business operations.

Now nearly a decade into my career, I have never been happier. Of course there have been bumps along the way and I’m not going to say it was all roses. But I truly love my current job and I’m working hard to keep my skills relevant (certifications, MBA, etc.) so that I can evolve into my next role.

I have many friends who followed their passions and are in a job/career that fuels them. On the other hand, I know many of my peers who were forced or guilted into their college studies and eventually a career they hate. Or, they chose the career because they wanted to just make that money to flaunt it. As they move up the corporate ladder, they obtain VP and Director roles in fields like engineering, law, medicine, investment banking. But they become resentful members of society. It seems once you get used to that lifestyle (or obtained too much student loan debt, or have a family relying on your income), you cannot easily 'escape’. It's possible, but it may alienate you from your established social circles. Striking out to find or follow your passions may become nearly impossible because you're stuck in the "rat race."

That said, a job or career doesn't have to be your passion. But having a job or career that pays you well and one you enjoy can surely fund your passions.

I think people should prioritize their jobs/career such that their experience and exposure allows them to pursue their passions. Keep increasing your skills and get paid for what you do well. The goal is to feel fulfillment at work or outside of work (or both)! And if you don't find fulfillment, plan an exit strategy.

One's passion doesn't necessarily make money. You might love playing video games, but don't love the idea of monetizing it on Twitch or being hyper competitive in tournaments. Find a job that pays you for your other skills and gives you enough mental space and down time to be a gamer outside of work.

If you want to become a nurse, do you prioritize working long hours? Or, are you passionate about providing great care for patients? The realization is that caring for patients require many health professionals to work long hours or be on call.

Exit strategies can mean leaving your career and pivoting to an entirely new field. Or it can simply mean going to a less stressful company or environment. For me, I've transitioned from corp finance in nonprofit, startup, and major corporations. Knowing when to move on is a skill within itself.

Regardless if you're newly entering the workforce or already have a sunk cost of a decade or more in your job/career, the priority should be to get paid as much for your skills as possible and keep pursuing your passions. Prioritize your passion but don't make it ‘the’ priority when it comes to your financial security.

For my insights about what to do with your money, check out my Money Mastery series, Part I here.

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