Taking A Job ‘For the Money’ Will Be The Death Of Your Freedom

 Making a living is one of the most central parts of our lives as adults.

But so often it seems we forget the whole point of living is to actually live, instead of simply making money so that we can buy temporary escapes from the life and work we’ve chosen in order to make money in the first place…

‘I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life’ — Maya Angelou.

The above quote is stuck firmly onto my vision board, the vision board that kick-started my journey into a life that actually feels true to me.

It’s a humble little existence, but it’s a life for which I have huge gratitude. It’s a life in which I feel excited and inspired. A life in which I feel free. A happy life.

Yes, money is important.

We have to make money to support ourselves (and sometimes others) and choosing a career path or finding a job that allows us to fulfill this need is something we must give a lot of thought.

But so often we get led astray by the belief that making money is the be-all and end-all; so often we become lured into the idea that we must work harder or work more, regardless of whether we enjoy what we’re working at, to accumulate greater wealth.

Because we are told wealth is what it’s all about.

But there is no wealth without freedom.

Sacrificing a dream for the big bucks

“He wants to be a teacher, but he’s really bright so he’s going to get some soul-destroying, high-paying job in London for a few years to set him up money-wise and then settle down and do what he actually wants.”

This was the plan of my friend’s university housemate. And I fear it’s something many people might consider when they first enter the ‘world of work.’

You may know somebody who’s had the same thought process, or perhaps you’ve done this yourself.

It sounds wise, it sounds like it could work. Work at some high-pressure, low-passion, but the high-earning job, and you’ll be set for years. Then life can really start and you can do what actually brings you joy.

It might sound simple. Stick it out for a bit, and enjoy the benefits later.

But as soon as you’ve become accustomed to a particular salary, you’re going to live within those means. It’s almost impossible not to.

You might be saving a healthy chunk of your wage, but let’s face it, if you’re working a job with a high salary, you are not going to stretch to stay within your grocery budget in the last week of the month, or live somewhere less than favorable in order to keep your household costs low.

Just a few hundred more a month for rent, there’s no harm in that, right? It’s okay to go to that slightly fancy restaurant with friends — you have the salary, after all.

Spending on those few extra luxuries might seem minor, but if the plan was to eventually ditch the corporate job for your low-paid passion, getting used to this lifestyle is gradually widening the gap between your current life and the life you promised yourself you’d live someday.

Boring yet vital advice about living within your means

Even if you’re not a particularly high earner, consider the fact that at some point you may wish to or have no choice but to take a drop in pay.

This could be due to career change, choosing to start a family, illness, or finding yourself unemployed for some other reason.

We never quite know what’s around the corner for us — if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s this! — so it’s truly important to feel financially stable as best we can and not to get too spendy simply because we can.

Learn to feel satisfied with ‘enough’

Even if your income goes up, you don’t have to up your outgoings for the sake of it. Try to live on as little as possible.

Think about what actually brings you happiness and what’s truly worth spending your hard-earned cash on, instead of getting carried away by the allure of having money to spend on whatever you want.

If you get too tied to money and rely on it for your happiness, you will never be free again.

You will always be going for the next promotion or trying to find jobs that match your higher income, to help maintain the lifestyle you’ve built. You’ll leave yourself with little real ‘choice’ when it comes to a career change.

A drop in income would be hard to manage, which may just prevent you from taking a job that actually excites you and lets you do the things you love. A job that could give you a life you actually enjoy, instead of some high-stress, the high-responsibility job you dread going to each morning.

If you get used to a modest income and work to keep your outgoings low, you’re giving yourself greater freedom to choose and design the life you really want.

Doing something that lights you up is far more impressive than doing something that earns big

So if you feel trapped by your need to have an impressive-sounding job, or to make enough money to sustain a particular lifestyle, but you know you’re not happy — consider what truly matters.

Is it the ability to afford a big house, a shiny car, and an expensive trip for two weeks a year? Is it the ability to churn out 6 or 7 words when people ask about your job title?

Or is it the opportunity to shine in what you do, to wake up feeling excited about how you get to spend your working hours, and to feel the sense of calm and ease that comes with doing what you know feels true to you?

I know which party I’m in.

It’s really okay to earn less

I’ve recently changed direction with my career and taken a part-time job to give me more time to work on what I love — writing. I’ve taken a pay drop, yes, but we’re still okay.

Our habit of living beneath our means has allowed me to take this chance and work to make my dreams into something tangible.

Our modest lifestyle allows us to truly live the way we want, to take chances, but feel supported at the same time.

So maybe we can’t afford luxurious holidays or buy ourselves everything we want, but we’re also not spending our lives counting down to these luxury trips or relying upon them for our sanity, because we don’t spend the remainder of our days overwhelmed with stress or hating our day-to-day existence.

Wrap up — beware the lure of the big bucks

I’m not saying all high paying jobs are full of stress or void of enjoyment, but if you continue to move up in a career you don’t enjoy, you seriously risk tying yourself into an increasing income and will find it hard to leave for something else that pays less.

Even if that something else is the thing you always dreamed of doing, and still tugs at your heartstrings.

The fact of the matter is, once we’re comfortable living a certain way, it’s hard to settle for less.

But it can be done. If you realize the value of the sacrifice.

Consider your lifestyle and your outgoings. Get serious about making some changes to support a pay drop and help you get comfortable transitioning into this new income.

Then go for it.

Make it happen. Take that pay drop, but watch your happiness rise.

And for those who are just starting out and have the choice to start building their lifestyle, I urge you — don’t live above your means.

Start with little and discover what things are important to you — not how much money you want to have.

You’ll soon find you can live on a little less, and live a whole lot more for doing what you love.