Friday, January 25, 2013

Dream Jobs and The Good Life

“Don’t die with your music still inside you. Listen to your intuitive inner voice and find what passion stirs your soul. Listen to that inner voice, and don’t get to the end of your life and say, ‘What if my whole life has been wrong?”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The other question that bothers me is, “How does one live a good life?” In the context of this blog the question morphs into one of several related questions.

If I do what I love will the money follow?
How do I find my dream job?
What is the will of God for my life?

In most of the material I have studied the question of living the good life gets hopelessly mashed together with the question of the dream job and material wealth. While a reasonable supply of money is certainly a necessary component of a good life, real wealth is much more than money in the bank.

Real wealth includes things like health, friends, family, the respect of those we love, our faith in God, our service to the Church, personal integrity, and so much more. A good job is in that list. It is important, but a good job isn’t even close to the top.

What if your job satisfaction is not the primary issue? Maybe there are things that are more important, caring for your family, living a life of integrity, serving your God, and extending mercy in a fallen world come to mind.

So what is a dream job and how do I find one?

Dave Ramsey suggests, “Find something that blends your skills, abilities, personality traits, values, dreams, and passions.” What if I can never get there? What if what I love has no commercial potential? If I can never find satisfaction in a job, can I use my job as a platform to find satisfaction and happiness elsewhere in my life? Singing my song does not mean anyone will ever pay me for the music.

There is simply no guarantee that if you do what you love the money will follow.

There seem to be two alternatives to this approach. Some authors are only interested in the facts. They are flinty eyed hard nosed realists who focus on practical necessity and economic realities. They write articles about how average salaries found in different career areas rise and fall with demand. They are not interested in your talents, or dreams.

Some authors recommend splitting the difference between the dreamers and the realists. They suggest finding the least objectionable job that supports your desired lifestyle. This is an unacceptably inadequate solution, believe me I know.

I do not find any of these approaches completely satisfactory.

Perhaps the question needs to be reframed. What is it that you just have to do? What is so important that you just can't stand to live without expressing it in your life?

In teaching basic principles of investment I have learned that a deep understanding of finance is not important. The student does not need to “figure it out.” The student just needs to get off his butt and do it. If he knows enough to keep 3 to 6 months expenses in a federally insured bank account, then put ½ of his surplus into a mix of different kinds of bond funds, and ½ of that surplus into a variety of stock funds (most should pay a dividend) and one mutual fund company name, Vanguard, he will be ahead of 90% of Americans. I can guarantee that he will make mistakes as he practices the art of creating material wealth. Something he will buy will lose money. Deal with it!

Is satisfaction in life the same? I just started giving away silver eagles, writing the blog, and teaching Dave Ramsey at church because I saw a problem that was so great I couldn’t stand not to something about it.

Am I a great money master who knows all and sees all? No. Have I ever failed in my attempts to help others? Yes.

Perhaps the question should be, “Has the song that is my life made this world a better place?”

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