Even though I feel the tiny headline news monitors in most high-rise building elevators contribute to anti-social behavior, I must admit becoming addicted to the news snippets. Generally, the news is of questionable value, but other times you crave more information. That was the case this week when I saw a headline proclaiming: “Gallup survey says income beyond $75,000 a year does not bring happiness.” Today’s New York Times carries two columns that shed additional light on this headline.
My favorite two columns — The Search and Corner Office— discuss the importance of job satisfaction and passion. The Search column discusses the Gallup survey of 450,000 Americans, noting that household income of $75,000 a year “does nothing for happiness, enjoyment, sadness or stress.” While the survey says self-assessment of one’s life continues rising well above $75,000, it doesn’t guarantee day-to-day happiness.
Daniel H. Pink, author of “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” says people should pursue careers that truly interest them. “It’s very hard to game the system, in the sense that situations and conditions change so quickly that a field that is hot today might be only lukewarm in 5 or 10 years,” he said.
Another expert, Nicholas Lore, founder of the Rockford Institute, a career coaching firm, expresses concern that people will let the current economic woes drive bad career choices.
“I would prefer that the economy was doing better and people were more adventurous because it often has an enormous effect on the quality of their life,” Lore said. Many people equate success with a high income, but, “How can someone say they’re successful if they’re not happy doing their work? To me, that’s not success.”
Richard R. Buery Jr., president and CEO of the Children’s Aid Society, followed his passion and is glad he did so. Buery’s interview in the Corner Office reveals that he graduated from Yale Law School, served as a law clerk for a year and practiced law for just 10 months before realizing he didn’t have passion for his previously chosen profession. “I left to start a nonprofit, which is about the most bizarre, crazy thing I think one could do coming out of law school. It’s worked so far for me.”
Buery’s advice: “I think young people often are planning too much and thinking too much. Before you have a family and a mortgage, try different things, do crazy things, explore what you love, and find your passion that way. Don’t worry so much about how things are going to fit into some career plan.” That’s the mantra I’ve followed for the past four decades. Like Buery, it’s worked for me so far.