Money vs Passion: What Makes a Sustainable Career?

Updated: Nov 16, 2021

Money vs Passion: What Makes a Sustainable Career?

Source: Pexels

We’ve all heard the washed-out clichés such as “Choose a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life”. “Do what you love and success will follow”. Or “Money can’t buy you happiness”.

And then there are the people who quit their corporate jobs to pursue a career in YouTube. To do music full time. Or to open an ice cream parlor.

From inspiring quotes to real-life examples. We can’t help but wonder, “Should I follow my passion or should I work for the money?” Well, the answer isn’t as black-and-white as it seems. But to help us better come to a conclusion, let’s dive into the pros and cons of working purely for money versus chasing our passions.

Pros and cons of choosing a lucrative career

Pros and cons of choosing a lucrative career

Source: Pexels

Salary and compensation are often important considerations when choosing a job. Ultimately, how important money is in your career decision depends on many factors. Such as whether you’re single or raising a family. But first, let’s look at some pros and cons of choosing a lucrative career:


1. Covering your basic needs

Having a well-paying job means you’re likely to have more cash flow for your daily necessities. A study* from Princeton University shows that money is indeed associated with happiness to a certain extent. People making below $75,000 annually are generally less happy. However, anything more than $75,000 does not contribute to greater happiness. This indicates that money still plays a role in our well-being. Especially in terms of whether we can make ends meet from month to month.

2. Financial security

In addition to our basic needs, a lucrative job can ensure you have extra monetary reserves in case of emergencies. This may include sudden medical bills or car breakdowns. Putting away extra cash into your savings does a great deal whenever these surprise expenses come up. Additionally, reducing monetary vulnerability is vital when you have family commitments.

3. Early retirement

A high-paying job may also help you retire early. Employers that pay well also tend to match the retirement accounts of their employees up to a certain amount. By sticking to a lucrative corporate path, you could potentially save up a sizable amount of your salary to enjoy an early yet stress-free retirement.


1. Long work hours

Jobs that offer a high payday might come hand-in-hand with lots of overtime hours. This 2015 survey* found that well-compensated managers and executives spend 13.5 hours a workday interacting with work. When this is the case, these people are unlikely to have any time or energy to do anything else apart from work.

2. High pressure

With big money comes big responsibility. Inevitably, there can be lots of pressure carrying and maintaining respectable positions. And if you’re running a profitable business, the competition of chasing the next big thing and staying in-trend can also be very overwhelming.

3. Lack of personal growth

Lucrative jobs tend to leverage the skills you’re especially best at. While tapping into your strengths is great, it’s easy to neglect other possible avenues of growth. This is also because your busy work probably won’t allow you the time and energy to nurture new skills too.

Pros and cons of pursuing your passion

Pros and cons of pursuing your passion

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While following our dreams is indeed something beautiful and inspiring, there’s also the possibility of it becoming less ideal than what you expect it to be. So, let’s look at the up-and downsides of pursuing a passion-based lifestyle.


1. Better wellbeing

If you’re leaving a toxic work environment, pursuing something you love may uplevel your mental and physical health. Most of these passion-based careers peel away from traditional work hours and structures too. This gives people more time and freedom to focus on getting more sleep, exercise, and family time.

2. Increased motivation and productivity

Undoubtedly, being passionate about what you do supercharges motivation, especially intrinsic motivation. In turn, you’re also more productive by not only accomplishing more but also producing high-quality work. This can enhance your opportunities for promotions or even growth in your own business.

3. Increased sense of purpose

Because we spend a huge chunk of our waking hours at work, it’s important to feel somewhat fulfilled by our daily grind. People who work a job they love can increase their overall sense of fulfillment because they connect with their purpose on a daily basis.


1. Insufficient income

There’s a risk that your pursuit isn’t compatible with the market. More often than not, people are passionate about industries that aren’t in demand or are too big to penetrate. Whether we like it or not, money is still an indispensable part of this society. And product-market fit is still needed if we are to make ends meet.

2. Passions are not fixed

Millennial culture places a lot of value on chasing dreams. However, pursuing these passions assumes that everyone innately has one. In reality, many people don’t. And for those who already have a passion, there is a possibility that it will change over time.

3. Your passion loses its shine

At some point, your passion will no longer be something you do for yourself. Rather, it becomes something that pays the bills at the end of every month. No matter what, work is work. And work can inherently be stressful because of deadlines and client expectations.

So, how do we decide between a job for money versus passion?

Deciding a Career for Money Vs Passion

Source: Pexels

Whether to choose a career based on money or passion really depends on your situation and priorities. Both options as we’ve seen, have their yin and yang. So, let’s explore a few essential questions when making this decision:

1. What are your priorities?

For some people, financial stability is more important because they have a family to feed. Others may have more leeway for risk because they have fewer commitments. Your priorities will therefore determine whether pursuing a risky passion is worth sacrificing some financial stability.

2. What are your long-term goals?

Think about how you want to live in the next five years or so. Are you planning to change careers? To move abroad? To start a family? All these decisions will determine how much money you need to make. And whether a stable job or a new business can help you get there.

3. What does the job market look like?

If you’re looking ahead into the passion route, it’s a smart choice to do proper market research regarding your dream industry. This gives you a heads up for the potential challenges you may encounter so that you prepare for them. If you’re planning to stay in your current industry to leverage your experience, research on companies that could give you more room for growth and promotions.


At the end of the day, the society we live in requires us to strike a balance between our reality and desires. Making a decent living is still essential before we can even embark on a passion-based journey. With that being said, logic and heart can definitely work hand-in-hand in our pursuit of a fulfilled yet realistic life.

Read other Career Related Resources:

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Reference Links:

  1. Research about money and happiness

  2. 2015 Survey about the effect of smartphones on work

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