I just finished reading that famous book about work, vocation, and career called Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow by Marsha Sineta for the second time (I first read it over ten years ago). Sadly, I have to say that I was not very impressed this time around.
I can’t help but think that it should have been titled Do What You Love, The Money Doesn’t Matter because that is basically the attitude that seems to be taken throughout the book! Although most people almost certainly buy this book for the title, because it fulfills a long-cherished dream, i.e. to do what they love AND the money will follow, the author shows little or no interest in the second part of the formula. Indeed, precisely how or why the money will follow is never explained. It’s just a statement of faith.
Moreover, throughout the book the author is at pains to stress the value of choosing what you think you “love” in that moment over and above any money you be making at the time. Hence, there is this constant parade of examples of individuals who gave up well-paying professional jobs where they were financially secure but dissatisfied in order to do what they love, and thereby took massive drops in income as a result. It sometimes took them years to reach a position of financial stability, if indeed they ever did.
We see no examples of the reverse happening; people living in the countryside deciding to go off and work for a professional firm in the City because they dream of the hustle and bustle of professional life; people working as farmers or librarians who went to college for years to study for an MBA in order to become an Investment Banker because Finance had always been their secret passion. The movement is assumed to be one-way; from high-paying professional roles to low–paying artistic, creative or “higher integrity” roles.
I read a self-help book recently where it was mentioned that one such female author had written a book of this nature, but that she clearly despised money in all its forms. Although I do not know for sure, I cannot help but think that he might have been referring to this book.
Don’t get me wrong. I would be the first to tell someone to find what they love and pursue that with all their heart. Indeed, I am convinced that if someone truly hates their job or workplace, the best thing that he/she could do for himself and everyone else would be to quit immediately, if that was financially viable. That way, you open yourself up to new possibilities and are better able to grasp them once you are away from a negative situation. Hence, I agree with a lot of this philosophy.
However, for “the money to follow”, there has to be a way for this to happen, otherwise you are all to easily setting a new trap for yourself whereby you start something up with great hope and high expectations and then find yourself bitterly disappointed – and broke too – some time later.
Now, there are many wise and true things mentioned in the “Do what you love…” part of this book and I found those to be excellent reminders of things I need to remember. So I commend the book in that respect.
However, as with all too many people who focus on the spiritual, the author’s notion that money is not important or does not really count is what lets things down. Actually, when seen in the light of the author’s own inclinations, even the title itself invites a question mark; why should the money follow? Why does it have to be second, or even secondary? Why can’t it come right away?
I knew a lot of people when I was in Investment Banking who were very rich and absolutely loved what they did. In fact, those who were best at it probably loved doing it the most, and that’s why they could work the long hours without complaint. I am sure that the same is true of most professions. So again, the notion that there is necessarily a disconnect between doing what you love and money is a false one. Choose the right thing to be passionate about and you can have both at the same time!
Nowadays, with the internet, there are SO many opportunities to do really well by starting an online business around your passion in life. You could do this while still doing your day job and use the latter to help fund the former until you are ready to quit and commit to your new business full-time. There are so many ways to play these scenarios out now that doing what you love can be done simultaneously with doing what you don’t love so much, AND the money can keep coming in the whole time!
There is a book I prefer, which I have also read twice, called The Work We Were Born To Do by Nick Williams, which is much more comprehensive in its coverage of this subject. Apart from being a much more honest title, especially after you have actually read the contents, it is more wide-ranging in its discussion.
Ultimately, “doing what we love” might itself prove to be a pipe dream because the big question is, do we really KNOW what we love? Even if we do, will this stay the constant focus of our lives as we pursue it, or will we find that we don’t love it so much once we get to do it for real?
Catchy titles that sell books are all very nice, but they don’t necessarily translate into reality, especially when there is no plan outlined within for this to happen. What counts in the long-term is what we feel called to do, what contribution we are making to the lives of others and to the world as a whole, and how our work fulfills us spiritually and in every other way.
This might mean that we take a leap of faith regarding the money, or it might mean that we create a more practical plan. Either way, we act from a position of being real and authentic with ourselves, not creating false dichotomies between “what we love” and “money” or anything else, or buying into formulas that sound good but might lead to only tears…. and bills we can’t pay.