What do you do for money? Are you punching a clock for someone else in a dead-end job, or are you doing something you truly love? Put another way, are you working a job, or pursuing a career? It’s an important question, and it really matters in terms of your happiness and well-being, because people who are pursuing a career they love are happier across the board than those who just have a job that keeps the lights on.

The problem, of course, is the fact that advice on the career front is somewhat sketchy, and filled with “squishy,” feel-good terms that are hard to turn into well-defined action. Here’s a great example that you’ve probably heard before: “Follow your dreams! Do what you love!”

There are a number of problems with that advice. While it’s true that it touches on an important point, following your dreams and doing what you love can’t be the only consideration. If your dream doesn’t make enough money to keep a roof over your head, then no matter how happy it might make you, it’s just not a great plan.

For some people, doing what they truly love is worth a cut in pay, and if that describes you, great. This makes it easier to balance the two sides of that equation, but the bottom line is simply that you can’t ignore the practical side, no matter how much you’d like to.

The first step, then, is to identify exactly what it is you want to do when you grow up (so to speak). Then, figure out if there’s a viable way to get paid enough to make it possible for you to live your dream while still being able to enjoy the minimum lifestyle you find acceptable (or better, of course)!

Once you do that, you’re well on your way. Bear in mind that following your dreams isn’t for the faint of heart, and there will almost certainly be a transition period where you’re building your dream career and punching a clock for someone else, but if you’re willing to put the time in, that won’t last long.

So, where are you now? Job or career?

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