Friendly PSA - Your Job Doesn't Need to Be Your Passion

A job doesn’t need to be your passion. It should provide you with enough income to sustain your lifestyle and set you up for retirement while providing you the most optimal work/life balance. However, it shouldn’t be something that is toxic to you.

I was with my 16 year old cousin last weekend. We were searching through some old dusty boxes in my parent’s attic to pass the time in quarantine. In one of the boxes, we came across old DVDs filled with the movies him and I used to make years ago.

A burst of joy scattered over my face as the nostalgia of those memories bounced around in my head. My body felt rejuvenated as I recalled all the film equipment I used to have, and the funny scripts I used to write, and how I wanted nothing more than to make movies for the rest of my life.

“Why didn’t you pursue film?” My cousin asked.

“Well unfortunately, film doesn’t pay the bills and a job in tech does.”

“Well, you could always keep doing it as a hobby,” he said.

He’s right. Film will always live as a hobby for me, and maybe that’s a good thing.

My view on work is constantly shifting. On one hand, I would love for my day job to be something that I love and gives me energy. Something that I wake up and look forward to doing. However, the things that truly give me energy and that I love just aren’t stable nor pay enough. Therefore, I feel like my view shifts to a job which provides me the best “bang for my buck.” In this case, what can I put the least amount of overall effort in and get the most value for my time? Most jobs in the tech industry fit this. You don’t need many years of schooling to make a decent salary and you probably will never work more than 40 hours a week at your standard cushy corporate job.

I remember my CS professor made a joke that most people who get into computer science are inherently lazy. Lazy in the sense that we value doing the least amount of work to get the most amount of return.

I don’t know if his analysis is accurate, but I do value my time above all else. Give me the option between two jobs:

  1. Job A: Not the exciting, but never more than 40 hours a week. Extremely flexible schedule and lots of vacation time along with a high enough salary to sustain my lifestyle.

  2. Job B: Cutting edge startup. Really exciting but also filled with deadlines and stress. At least 60 hours a week. Not that flexible and not much vacation but amazing pay.

I would probably take Job A, and do something relating to Job B as a hobby. For me, having the freedom to quit without repercussion (loss of healthcare, not being able to pay rent, etc) trumps the excitement that Job B would offer.

And I’ll be honest (sorry job recruiters reading this), I don’t really like coding unless it’s for my own hobby projects. Writing code for someone else just isn’t fun. (But neither is making movies for someone else, so I guess that’s just an internal issue I have).

But then, I have friends who work in fields like teaching and social work who couldn’t imagine doing a job that they don’t enjoy. So maybe I’m doing it wrong?

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