Monday, March 22, 2010

Ideally, it's better to be practical

When I was young and idealistic, I wanted to follow my passion. I believed that if one follows passion, he will do very well in his area of interest and thus the money will be the 'side-effect', the toppings on an ice-cream. However, as I grew older, I realised this is not to be.

Many people are trapped in doing the things that they do not like. However sucky that prospect of dragging yourself to work, the job does pay for the bills and the comforts that money can bring. Yet others are trapped in doing things that they loved and are deeply passionate about, but the reality is that these jobs do not bring back enough to feed himself and his noble ambitions. What good is passion when you know that the moment you stop working, you will quickly run out of the favours that money can buy you.

'Tis sad, isn't it? A childhood ideal turned awry and sour like leftover milk. I will give two real life examples to show the trappings of being realistic and being idealistic:

1. I've the fortune to teach a national golfer. When given the chance to turn pro, she declined firmly even though she is good in it and obviously passionate about it. I did not ask her about her decision yet somehow, from the conversations that we had, I had an inkling. It's just not practical to be a professional golfer in Singapore, thus it's better to cut the losses and move on to the 'real' business of earning a living.

It saddens me to hear of such cases. But is it not wise to do so now, rather than much later? I have no answers.

2. He went to Wharton to study an MBA, taking a loan equivalent to that of a HDB flat. Upon returning, the debts are all paid within a year. However, all is not well. The fiery ambitions to be a high flying banker had all but evaporated, leaving a certification and an experience of a lifetime to show for. He switched career because he realised that this is not what he wanted, and is now trying to earn a living as an in-house trader. 12k per month (perhaps with a few months worth of bonuses) is the opportunity cost of following passion.

As for now, I heard he's doing so-so in his career. I wonder if he'll regret his decisions. No matter how shitty it is, I'll bite my teeth and shoulder the burden for at least 5 yrs. After that, I would have earned the right to do what I wanted to do. I know, it's easy for me to say because I'm not the one who had to endure the many impossibilities at work. If I'm truly in his shoes, would I have done as he did?

I've no answers too.

I do, however, have a way to deal with the romantic allure of following passion and the cold hard practicality of following money.

If you're not passionate about an area that can bring you enough monetary rewards, then forget passion. Dread the work but work hard nevertheless. The grinding will come to an end if you save a portion of what you earn and put them into trustworthy and safe investments. No bad things will carry on indefinitely and with this passive income stream, you can really do what you are meant to do. Thus, go and follow your passions as it is the right of every person to do so. And without guilt.

If you're passionate about something that can bring you money, then good for you because you must be one of the lucky few that can marry the wishes of the heart and the wallet. For you, I have no advice. You will enjoy the bountiful things that money can buy yet your work feels like no work.

Most fortuitous, I say.


CreateWealth8888 said...

Do you mean he wanted to be a trader and not banker?

Anonymous said...

I catch no ball at the MBA story also. Please rephrase your story.

la papillion said...

Hi bro8888,

I don't think he wants to be a trader. He certainly knows he don't want to be a banker. Being a trader happened to him, so he didn't look hard for it.

la papillion said...

Hi anonymous,

To study in Wharton for an MBA, you need quite a sum, equivalent to about a 4rm flat. He had to borrow the money for his trip, thinking that he will have a high flying career after that. He did, and he landed a job in one of the wall street's institutions, earning a very respectable amount of money.

However, he cannot take the stress and work hours. So, around 1 yr after he started, he paid of the debts he had borrowed for the MBA course, and quit his job. He's now working as an in-house trader.

Bolt said...

It's all about priority in life. For the golfer, if it's her own own decision, no regrets.

The banker, he tried and given up. no regrets.

CreateWealth8888 said...

The easy way is to become a broker. Pass exam and have $50K

la papillion said...

Hi Bolt,

Sometimes priority in your own life isn't as important as being responsible to people who are close to you. I live for others now. Maybe when I've done my part, I can live for myself.

Alvin said...

You beat me to it! I was writing about passion too!

Anyway, I have reference your post in mine:

la papillion said...

Hi Alvin,

Seems like we independently converged to discuss about the topic on passion and money.

Will post my comments there, thanks for reading mine

durio said...

yo LP
hahaha yeah agree ... practical needs first (need to settle basic living, stomach etc), passion later.

1. I think finding your true passion is more difficult. Also, often we are misguided by other success stories, TV, movies etc

2. Your passion may change as you go thru different phases of your life.

while passion may not be practical now or subject to change without notice later LOLz, i still think it's good to keep a list of passions (dream big!) to keep our spirit alive :)

wanna try this? book is also available from our library

la papillion said...

Hey Durio,

Where have you been? Been so long...

Thanks for the link, I'll check it out. But i agree with you, need to settle practical needs first. But what is the meaning of life without having some passion?

I think only those who have nothing to do will debate about passion and needs. Haha