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Ann - Finding work that honors those things most important to an individual may indeed require trade-offs'. It's not a zero sum game, and the 'sweet spot' will likely be an individual choice relative to the passions/skills/ability/reality continuum.

I help individuals, most of whom are in transition, identify their passions and articulate what's most important to them. The interesting thing is that most every client I see gets the 'deer in the headlights' look when I ask them what it is they really want to do. They don't know, and haven't given it much thought.

What I try and do is combine the identified passions, along with skills and experience, and translate that into a marketable profession. It takes a lot of work, especially by the client, to get there, and rarely do we achieve a 100% match. We can, however, get to the 70 - 80% range, the remainder being the 'trade offs' you reference.

Every job has components that the occupant would prefer not to deal with, at least in my experience. However, people should strive to understand their passions, and how they relate to the workplace. If more people did that I'd bet we'd see a huge increase in job satisfaction. That alone is worth the effort!

As you know, what the marketplace values varies widely, by industry and individual firm. Following your passion doesn't always mean a sacrifice in the paycheck, which you'll never know unless you go down that path.


Great comments - and your observation calls out something I also felt was a substantial flaw in my simplistic and quickly constructed continuum ... the fact that while the trade-offs are a reality, a very strong reality for some people, it is not necessarily a zero sum game.

Many of us happily find a passion for work that pays us relatively well - I have always thought myself to be fortunate in this regard.

On the other hand, as the parent of two young adults who recently launched out of college into their respective career choices, and (through my kids) as someone who has had a lot of exposure in recent years to this young cohort and their aspirations/challenges, I think the notion of informed choices and trade-offs is an important one that doesn't naturally occur to a lot of us, especially in our college years.

I have encountered and come to know too many young people who come out of college with enormous debt and a degree, without having given more than a moment's thought to (and being ill prepared for, both educationally and in terms of personal planning) how they are going to earn a living. While the idea of having passion is important for all of us, my experience in launching a couple of young adults would suggest to me that a reality check (in terms of a conversation about responsible choices and trade-offs) is equally important.

That may be less true for individuals in transition - a cohort I have much less experience with, and you much more. Perhaps, at that point in life, most of us have been "reality-checked" and are in greater need of passion and inspiration.

At any rate, great perspective to add to my initial post and thoughts on the topic - thank you!!

You are correct, Ann, that matching your intrinsic motivations with extrinsic value considerations is a vitally important task. The things that give you the most satisfaction to do can be difficult to translate into a "job description." There is both art and science in that process of discovering what activities can be of maximum mutual benefit: who will pay me the most to do what I absolutely LOVE to do?

I immediately think of Dan Walter' 3/19/13 post about the snack bar staffer who joyously served people without necessarily being enthusiastic about her employer.


Indeed, another area where both art and science (with a health helping of introspection and reflection) are necessary - and a vital one for all of us to do as purposefully as we can. Thanks for the comment!

Ann - I appreciate your response, and yes, most of the individuals I work with have some years of work experience. Passion and work enjoyment/satisfaction are not mutually exclusive, and for most of us whats important takes time to evolve. These young people entering the workforce with huge debt loads is a worrisome phenomena, especially in the current economy. Sometimes practicality trumps passion, especially when financial consequences are a significant factor.

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