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What Would You Give Up For A Career You Love?

What Would You Give Up For A Career You Love?

If you’re cruising Idealist, you’re obviously itching for new ways to have an impact in the world. Have you ever hesitated because making that switch could mean less pay? If so, here’s an exercise that can help you identify things you’d give up for more meaningful work.

The biggest lifestyle change for most people would be to downsize a home or move to a less expensive city. The classic cuts are things such as a latte habit, hair coloring at a salon or wardrobe updates. But it’s possible that some things that provide you with a lot of satisfaction aren’t high ticket at all – like living near friends and family or having a beloved pet. And it’s possible that some creative thinking on the expense side – cohousing, renting out an empty room in your home, or giving up a car and going green – would give you more flexibility.

Find a quiet place, grab a cup of something warm, and fill out the following lists as thoughtfully as you can:

Three must-haves:

1.

2.

3.

Three like-to-haves:

1.

2.

3.

Three can-give-ups (try to include one big-ticket item that represents a big chunk of your monthly or annual overhead):

1.

2.

3.

Next, think about the different forms of compensation that can come from working. One, of course, is money. Another is a sense of purpose or gratification. Others might be community involvement, a great work environment, a nice social life, flexibility or stability. As you weigh various options, try thinking about money as just one form of compensation.

And as you compare your options, look back at prior jobs to see how they stacked up in terms of non-monetary compensation. A job may have paid well, but how did it score on the other factors? Did you learn a lot? Did you enjoy the lifestyle? Did you feel good about the work you were doing?

As you try to identify these factors, write down the top five things you identified as being important to you in your next stage of work.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

Now tie it all together. Would you be comfortable giving up the three things in your can-give-up list to have one or more of those things on your list of what you want from work? Which ones?

Would you go further for anything on that list – meaning, would you give up anything from your like-to-have list to have any of the elements on your what-you-want-from-work list? Which ones?

For now this all may be completely hypothetical. But going through this exercise could help you clarify what matters to you most as you mull over what’s next. So do it now, put it aside and, as you get closer to some real possibilities, consider doing the exercise again when the choices before you are real ones.

About The Author

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Marci Alboher is a Vice President of Encore.org, a nonprofit making it easier for millions of people to move into encore careers. She is the author of the newly released Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life (Workman 2013)

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