High Paying Job You Don’t Like vs. Lower Paying Job You Like

worker in a box

I graduated from university 24 years ago and have held several jobs in this time. I’ve concluded that it is better to have a job you enjoy that pays less than a job you detest but pays substantially more.

When you are young, it is easier to put up with a job you don’t like. It hasn’t worn you out yet, but that time will come. When that finally happens you may be married, have a couple of kids and a mountain of mortgage debt and day to day financial obligations. At that point, you are trapped. Very few parents are going to deprive their children of playing competitve sports or sell the family house to move to a cheaper neighbourhood.

I read an article last summer where a senior partner at a Wall Street law firm admitted that his firm encouraged young lawyers to go into debt to purchase fancy houses and cars and send their children to private school. The firm even used their financial connections to get lower interest rates for these expensive purchases.

The reason, he admitted, was to get these young lawyers hooked on spending money so they’d be less likely to leave their high stress, high commitment jobs. Apparently it’s not that easy to replace high quality lawyers once they’ve become big contributors to the firm’s bottom line.

The way to avoid the loss was to make it real difficult to leave. Of course, the lawyer could always decide to give it all up, but at a cost. It could cost him his marriage, his friends and his children’s future; how would Johnny and Sally ever be able to make it in this world with a public school education?

When you’re young, you really don’t know what you want, and you don’t know what will give your life satisfaction. That’s the whole point of being young; you’re exploring, learning who you are and what turns you on.

The problem is you can get caught going down a path that gets real hard to veer off later. At some point, you’ll probably realize that you’re not happy with your career choice, but you don’t have to time or energy to discover what would give you more satisfaction in life.

So most people just soldier on down that path, telling themselves that things aren’t so bad. They have wealth, prestige, and retirement is only 22 years away.

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