Job Search: Where Is The Green Grass

Last night I was at a family event to celebrate the end of year for a class for one of my kids.  I was talking to some of the dads about “stuff” and we got onto the topic of careers and business.  At one point I said:

“Yeah, I sometimes think about you with your steady paycheck and health insurance and wonder what that would be like again….”

I was saying that as a business owner (entrepreneur).

The look on this face seemed to say “I wonder the same thing… if I could only ditch this paycheck and health insurance and really pursue my passions….”

We were both caught, for a moment, in the grass is greener area, thinking that each of us had it better than the other.

Don’t get me wrong, I love owning my own business.  But there are pros and cons, and human nature is prone to look at other peoples situations and think “if only I had what they had, or worked where they worked, or did what they did…”

If only I were rich, or had a pension, or loved my job more… if only….

As it specifically relates to your job search I have two different thoughts:

  1. Do what you want to do. Find your passion, be happy at work, and all that good stuff.  Regardless of how much money you make you’d be happy (perhaps you’ll make less working in your passion than if you did something you hated), passionate, and all that other good stuff.  OR…
  2. Do what you have to do to maintain a certain lifestyle. This is more of the “make enough money, even if I’m not happy” model.  Happiness can come from hobbies and stuff you do outside of work (like vacations).

What’s the right answer for you?  Realize that your path is up to you.  YOU can choose which direction you go.  As hard as a job search is, one positive aspect is that you now get to stand back and look at what you should and could do, instead of simply working hard and not looking at the direction you are headed.


  1. Melissa Cooley on May 4, 2010 at 10:31 am

    I have my doubts about the long-term viability of the second path you propose. Even if a person is more attracted to a job because of the money and all the things that money brings, if there’s not some degree of professional satisfaction, eventually s/he is going to get burnt out. Not everyone needs that burning passion for their job, but they should at least like what they do.

    Short-term is a different matter. When in a job search, being able to sustain the base level needs is really important. If that means taking a job that isn’t fulfilling, do that to get by and work toward finding something that provides the right balance.

  2. Jason Alba on May 4, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Thanks for the thoughts Melissa.

    As I was writing this I realized it’s not black and white… it’s more of a spectrum … and perhaps you find yourself somewhere on the spectrum rather than choosing #1 or #2.

    I know people who dread what they do but they do it because they have a lifestyle to support. I don’t think it’s fun or healthy, but people do it.

    Alternatively, choosing #1 might mean you sacrifice a lot of hobbies, vacations and other expenses because your passion doesn’t bring in much money…

    So maybe the happy place is somewhere inbetween 🙂

Leave a Comment