How to Choose a Career When You're Worried About Money | | career tips, entrepreneur, writing tips, personal finance, blogging

How to Choose a Career When You’re Worried About Money

If you’re reading this, odds are you’re either wondering what to do with your life, your financial situation is stressing you out, or you’re just bored at work. Either way, I feel ya. I’m twenty-seven and I still haven’t found my “forever job.” Sometimes that happens when you’re an English major.

Since we’re friends, I’ll be honest — I’ve been struggling a lot lately with this. The Huz has a steady, salaried job with plans to advance eventually, but I’m still here like a kid fresh out of college with too many t-shirts and not enough direction. I work in finance by day (which is hilarious, because I’m allergic to numbers) but I’m a creative soul who thrives on making things beautiful and making beautiful things. It may not sound like much of a struggle because I have a job — a steady one, no less — with the promise of promotion a couple of years down the road, but it is so far outside of not only my comfort zone, but also my interests, talents, and vision for myself.

But the pay would be excellent.

So what’s a jaded liberal arts graduate to do? Throw the degrees aside, take the money, and run all the way to the plush, glittery finish line? Or welcome the experience for what it is today before leaving it to pursue a career that’s truer to myself?

When Jesus was here, walking around and telling stories to people who would listen, he said that life isn’t defined by what you have, even when you have a lot. In fact, he told his followers to watch out for greed, probably because he knew what a temptation it was. If anything, it’s probably even more of a temptation now. Seriously, we don’t even have to leave the bed to order whatever we wan’t with money that’s technically not ours. That’s dangerous territory.

Anyway, knowing what Jesus said doesn’t necessarily make it any easier when you don’t have a lot or when you’re struggling to feed your family, but maybe it helps you rethink the importance of stuff. Extra stuff. Status symbol stuff. So much stuff you can’t store it. Attachment stuff. Stuff that maybe buys you a friend or some compliments for a day but ultimately becomes more of a burden. Stuff you become a slave to for five days a week, that keeps you tied to the job you hate for thirty years or more.

I want to own my belongings, not be owned by them.

One thing I’ve discovered in my indecision is that sitting around thinking about what to do won’t bring the clarity you need. Taking one step in a direction of your choice — and continuing to take one step at a time in that direction until you realize you can’t or shouldn’t anymore — that brings clarity.

Clarity comes from choosing something instead of waiting for something to choose you. | How to Choose a Career When You're Worried About Money {}

I like the way Jeff Goins puts it in his book, The Art of Work: “In fact, clarity of calling comes more through a series of deliberate decisions than it does through any sudden revelation.”

It comes from choosing something rather than waiting for something to choose you.

He writes,

Work, it seems, was never meant to be something we do just to make a living. It was meant to be a means of making a difference — in our own lives and in the lives of others. The problem today is that many of us see our jobs just as a duty, something we’re obligated to do to pay the bills. Or we see it as a means of improving our lives, of making so much money we can buy all the things we’ve ever wanted. But neither option will satisfy.

I think a certain level of comfort comes with having nice things. But an even greater joy comes with knowing you’re using your talents and skills to help others and create a life of satisfaction, not a life that’s dictated by Sunday night blues and too many credit card bills.

Create a life of satisfaction, not a life that's dictated by Sunday night blues and too many credit card bills. | How to Choose a Career When You're Worried About Money

So how can you choose the “right” job when you’re worried about money? Here are some ideas that might help:

  • Admit what you enjoy doing most. Would you spend your day writing, running, singing, giving people advice, mowing the lawn, playing the piano, cooking, decorating houses?
  • Think about what comes easily to you. Just because it’s easy for you doesn’t mean it’s easy for others. You could possibly use that particular skill to help someone else.
  • Consider your education or past work experience. If it’s not something you enjoy, can you use it to get to something you do enjoy?
  • Determine your priorities. If you want to own three homes and a boat, work toward that. If you want to have a simple life with free time to read and hike and drink lots of coffee, pursue that.
  • Write down your long-term goals. What milestones do you want to hit every five years? Will the job you want to pursue help you get there?
  • Consider a portfolio life.
  • Remember that even though money is a source of stress right now, having more won’t necessarily make you happier. In fact, more money often brings more responsibility.

If you’re struggling, I’m right there with you. It’s hard to be at the intersection of “safe” and “risky” and not know which one to choose. But if you can, take ten minutes to picture your future through a relational lense and not a financial one.

And remember that you’re not alone.

Do you have any experience with or advice about choosing a career when you’re worried about money? I’d love to hear from you!



  1. Pingback: Fall Reading List: Ten Books That Could Change Your Life |

  2. Pingback: Using Workplace Dissatisfaction to Fuel Your Writing – The Lady in Read

  3. Pingback: Indie Author Chat: “The Cubicle Chronicles” by Lynn Brookdale – The Lady in Read

Let me know what you think.