Simple Formula for Finding What You Should Do For a Living

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same; there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.” – Benjamin Button


(Photo: ジミー リー)

Your life has mostly been decided by others. I am not sure what your religion is, but I can guess that it is the same as your parents and be right majority of the time. What you studied in college has most likely been “recommended” to you by your family. Chances are you will eventually lower your expectations and get married to someone because you are getting older and this is what is expected of you. After all, how else can you live the American dream of having 2.01 children and 2.28 cars?

You like to think that you are a captain of the ship, but in reality, almost everything has been chosen for you by your parents or society.

Deciding what you should do for a career which will consume the rest of your life is one of the most important questions you will have to answer. But how do you decide what you should do? Here is a very simple formula to decide your career based on what you want not what others have chosen for you. 

  1. In one column write down all the things you would love to do for a career if you could. (Yes we would all like to play for the NY Yankees but that is not reality, pick a job that you actually have a chance of landing and have a talent for). Make a list of at least 10 careers. Whatever you think you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life and be happy, write it down. Marine Biologist, Artist, Writer, Fireman, Eco Tour Guide list everything and anything you think you would enjoy doing year after year.

  2. Now in the next column, next to each career, write down what is the LEAST amount of money per year you would be willing to do this job for regardless of what the starting salary is. Think hard about this one. What would the least amount of money you would take to do this job year after year for the rest of your life?

  3. Now write down how many years you would be willing to dedicate to go to school to learn to do each job, assuming that the pay off would be the amount you listed in the previous column. In other words, how many years would you be willing to learn a trade assuming the amount you will make would be the minimum you specified.

  4. In the 4th column write down what is the average salary a person makes for the job you have selected.

  5. In the 5th column write down the years of schooling that is needed to be able to get this job.

  6. Now simply remove any entry where the schooling needed to get a job you listed is more than you specified (Column 5 is larger than column 3) or where the average salary is less than the minimum you specified (Column 4 is smaller than column 2).

  7. You should now have a list of all the careers that made the cut. What career is right for you? The answer is whichever one you would be willing to do for the least amount of money.

The old saying of “Do what you love and money will follow” is true, but a safer version of the saying is “Do what you love and happiness will follow”. The fact that you chose a career that you would be willing to do for the least amount of money means that it is a career that will make you the happiest, since you are willing to trade monetary gains in exchange for doing it. In reality, chances are that you will make a great deal more than the minimum you listed. The odds are also very great that you are going to make more than everyone else in the field because you would be doing it with love and not solely for money.

So is the career you selected going to be the one you will be doing 30 years from now? Maybe and maybe not, who knows? But at least you would have been happy doing it. Put some money aside and if you ever get bored and decide to start new, you have plenty of money to pursue your next adventure.

It’s never too late to follow your dreams and live the life you want, not the one which has been chosen for you by others.

Here is my favorite Benjamin Button clip for inspiration.



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