The Dream Job vs. The Better-Paying Job: Which Should You Choose?

Dream job 

Most of us, at some point or another in our lives, will question whether or not we are fulfilling our purpose and life dreams. Perhaps you promote a lawyer or sports team when you really wish you were helping environmental causes or spreading the word about endangered animals. Maybe you even found the job of your dreams, and applied – but the salary would be quite a pay cut. Which do you choose: the dream job, or the job that pays the bills?

Usually, this question appears when we are at a crossroads: we’re either dissatisfied with the work we currently do or we have the opportunity to finally pursue what we’ve always wanted to do. The problem often lies in what the consequences, good or bad, are for selecting or moving forward with our next step.

Define What it is that you Need.

These consequences can be defined with a series of questions, like:

  • What do I need my income to be?
  • Will I be able to afford to pay my bills?
  • What kind of hours will I have?
  • Will I have benefits, like health insurance, vacation time, and sick leave?
  • What kind of impact will this have on the quality and quantity of time I have with my family and friends?

All of these consequences, then, can be summed up in the idea that we must first and foremost meet our elemental needs. Otherwise, we struggle and are unhappy, even in the midst of the greatest job we’ve ever wanted.

Spend Time Evaluating yourself and the Potential Next Step.

If this crossroads seems to be right outside your door, it is well worth the time and effort to evaluate not only what it is that you need, but what it is that you want, and what you are willing to give up if need be. Only then will you be able to determine which career/job is right for you.

Ask yourself the “what if” questions that we all so desperately wish to ignore when given the chance. What if you take this job? What if you leave your current one?

Let’s say, for example, that you are a budding PR Specialist who has just begun a job at a decently paying position, where you write press releases and help send out a few marketing materials. Though it’s what you studied for, you just found out that an entry-level position is available at the company for whom you’ve always dreamed of working. The catch is that the position would require you to move three hours from your family, rent an apartment on your own, and take a salary cut of $5,000.00. Would you take it? What would you have to give up to work for this company, and would you be willing to start at a lower level than where you are currently?

Look for Ways to Get your Foot in the Door, Without Quitting the Job that Pays your Bills… Yet.

If, after defining your needs vs. your wants, you decide that perhaps you should stick with the higher paying job, you may want to consider how it is that you can get your foot in the door, without the full committal involved in a total job transfer.

Look for opportunities that your dream company may be offering, such as:

  • Part-time positions.
  • Freelance work.
  • Volunteer hours.
  • Internships.

By looking for opportunities like these, you’ll be able to get a feel for what it would be like to work for that company or in your dream position, without losing the dollars you need to survive. Once you’ve got your foot in the door, you’ll have a better idea of whether or not you are ready to take the plunge to get the job you’ve always wanted.

Leah Rutherford is a freelance career development and business writer based in Chicagoland. See more of her work on her blog, JetFeeds.

2 thoughts on “The Dream Job vs. The Better-Paying Job: Which Should You Choose?

  1. Good discussion. I once wanted to move on, and had two simultaneous offers. One was for a VP job heading PR for a giant company, but one I didn’t know, at a much higher salary. The other offer was a director level position at a lower salary, but at a company I knew well and where knew and liked the people. I took the director position and lower salary. The first company was broken up and sold a few years later. The one I went with I stayed for 15 years, and became at VP of corporate communications. Follow your heart and gut, indeed!

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