Gallup conducts a poll every year to measure job satisfaction among workers in the United States. The report from 2016 shows that Americans felt happier than they did the year before.
That could be because of this decade’s movement to escape cubicle life and leave jobs that make people miserable in favor of pursuing a passion.
New grads and young adults may be the most optimistic about finding their dream jobs. But your desire to chase down job satisfaction in one area can cost you — literally.
The same Gallup poll showed that less than half of workers feel satisfied with a number of work aspects that impact their financial lives. These include pay, benefits, and opportunities for advancement.
According to the poll, 56 percent of people aren’t happy with the retirement plan their employer offers. Another 59 percent aren’t satisfied with their pay, and 63 percent of people feel the same about their health insurance benefits.
Your happiness in your job and the financial realities of your life are both important factors to consider when you’re early in your career. Strike a balance between pursuing dream jobs based on your passion and looking for positions that allow you to address your financial priorities.
How to balance dream jobs with financial realities
Finding that perfect balance of job satisfaction and fair compensation may be something you need to create yourself by thinking long-term.
When you’re in your 20s, you likely have decades of work ahead of you. It feels suffocating to imagine yourself working a soul-crushing job for that long. It’s hard to listen to advice that suggests prioritizing your financial needs over your dream job, especially when you’re early in your career with a lot of life to live (and work).
But that long, long life ahead of you is exactly why you should prioritize good pay and benefits over doing what you love — at least at first.
Build a financial foundation first
Most of us don’t find a position that offers great job satisfaction and great benefits. We’re usually faced with a choice.
I believe you should choose the position that gives you the best shot of building a strong financial foundation right now. Just get started and accept that you may work a year or two in a job that you strongly dislike.
The short-term sacrifice might be worth it when it sets you up to do what you want in the long-term.
I worked in a job I absolutely hated for three years when I graduated college. I deliberately made a choice to take the job because it offered the best pay of the positions I qualified for, and provided me with a 401k with employer match and health insurance.
I made another choice to put my head down and do everything I could to build my savings and start investing while I worked there. I put away half my income and went from a few thousand bucks in my savings account to a six-digit net worth.
The benefits of missing out on dream jobs (at first)
Prioritizing my finances in the short-term allowed me to live my dream in the long run. Because I built a financial foundation, I was able to quit that job after three years and work for myself.
I still do that today — and I love it. Out of all the dream jobs out there, nothing is better to me than freelancing, being my own boss, and building my own business.
But was it worth it? What did I miss out on, or suffer from, by putting money first?
I put myself in a position to have a lot of Sunday night dread, and working a job you hate is a good way to pave a road to burnout. I didn’t just hate that first job out of college. I loathed it.
But my lack of job satisfaction gave me the motivation I needed to launch my freelance career. It fueled my desire to build something for myself.
It also taught me a lot about what I wanted from the rest of my career. I gained perspective and awareness about my own strengths and weaknesses. I learned that I could do anything for a short period of time.
The experience also showed me what I valued. Had I started my career in a job I loved, I would have never realized that my real passion rested in making an impact the way I do now.
Focusing on building a financial foundation gave me the freedom to take more risks with my career than I could have done otherwise. Working a dream job with pay and benefits that sucked would have left me more stuck than working the job I hated but provided me with the means to eventually escape.
Either way, find happiness outside your job and inside yourself
Buying into the idea of dream jobs is dangerous. It can leave you feeling like the only solution to your troubles is to find the perfect job.
I used to believe that if I only had a better job, I’d be happier. I was so jealous of my friends who pursued their passions right out of school. They made little money and stayed on their parents’ health insurance, but they loved their work.
What I didn’t realize is that I would have been unhappy from the ages of 21 to 24 anyway, whether I worked my dream job or not.
It’s easy to blame a job that sucks for your problems and your unhappiness. I didn’t know it at the time, but I eventually figured out that the unhappiness I experienced in my early 20s wasn’t due to a job — it was internal stuff that I needed to work on.
Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking any kind of job will make you happy. Happiness doesn’t come from any external force. It only comes from cultivating a strong sense of self, getting to know who you are, and actively working on your own mindset.
Here’s the good news: You can do this even while you work in a position you dislike. A job is only one part of your life, and you’re much more dynamic than the role you work in.
What should you do?
I delayed my dream job for a few years for a number of reasons. I knew that landing a job I was passionate about, but that offered low pay and benefits, wouldn’t solve my problems. It wouldn’t have allowed me to create the freedom I needed to make bigger decisions in a few years.
Dream jobs are nice in theory, but they often don’t challenge you to explore what you’re really capable of. And if the pay and benefits aren’t there, dream jobs certainly don’t empower you to take risks and grow wealth for the long term.
Only you can decide what the next step in your career is, so carefully weigh your options. No matter what job you choose, it’s sure to hold valuable lessons for both your career and your finances.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
Savings example: average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
Application detail: 5 minutes indicates typical time it takes to complete application with applicant information readily available. It does not include time taken to provide underwriting decision or funding of the loan.
Instant rates mean a delivery of personalized rates for those individuals who provide sufficient information to return a rate. For instant rates a soft credit pull will be conducted, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
Total savings calculated by aggregating individual average savings across total borrower population from 9/2013 to 12/2017. Individual average savings calculation based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were provided. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit SoFi|
|2.47% – 5.87%1||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Earnest|
|2.47% – 8.03%4||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Lendkey|
|2.95% – 6.37%2||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Laurel Road|
|2.48% – 6.25%5||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit CommonBond|
|2.72% – 8.32%6||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Citizens|