One of the biggest dilemmas people have when choosing a career is whether to go with a safe, stable field or a dream job. I think the reason why this is such a huge debate is because the answer is different for everyone. Some people are more motivated by money, while others are ok with living a modest lifestyle if they get to follow their passion.
Early in my career, I took the risky path and decided to become a freelance writer. Although I don’t make a six-figure salary, I’m able to contribute to my household and help us meet our most important financial goals, such as paying off our home early. Plus, I love what I do, so I’d say that my choice has worked out for me thus far.
However, a few months ago I started noticing a shift in my industry. Many writers in my professional networking groups began raising concerns about artificial intelligence and its potential to eliminate content writing gigs.
I had a gut feeling that they were right, so I started exploring the possibility of a career change. Now I’m glad I began investigating new career paths a few months ago, because it seems like Chat GPT is poised to disrupt the content marketing industry and replace many writers.
Human Resources or Photography
Exploring new career paths thrust me right back into this debate of the safe career path vs. the fulfilling one. As I narrowed down potential jobs, I came up with two ideas: going back to school for human resources or studying photography so I can start a wedding photography business.
I wrestled with the decision for a while and had a very hard time choosing between these two paths. Human resources seemed like a great fit for my personality and skill set. But upon reflection, it was clear it wasn’t my passion.
On the other hand, wedding photography was something I’d dreamed about doing since I was a teenager. I’ve read countless forum posts and articles about the downsides of wedding photography, so I know it’s not always sunshine and roses. But getting to witness and capture a couple’s love on the most important day of their lives still seems more meaningful than a corporate 9-5. Plus, I love getting to be my own boss and doing something creative every day.
Although wedding photography isn’t the safest choice, I realized after doing a lot of soul-searching that it’s the best move for me. Here’s why I’ve chosen to pursue dream jobs thus far in my career instead of stable ones.
Why I Choose Dream Jobs
Let’s face it—dream jobs tend to pay less because everybody wants to do them. Very few people are passionate about accounting or law, which is why those professions come with higher salaries. Although it’s possible to make six figures as a content writer or photographer, most workers in creative fields aren’t living super large.
Working a Job I Hate Leads to Impulse Spending
However, I’m ok with living a modest lifestyle as long as I love the work I do. Before I got my writing business off the ground, I had a job at a call center that made me miserable.
If I’m dissatisfied with my job, I’m more likely to inflate my lifestyle to try to distract myself from my negative feelings. Considering the average American spends about $300 per month on impulse purchases, I’m probably not the only one who uses retail therapy as a reward for working a job they dislike!
Think about it: if you loved your job and didn’t need a pick-me-up to get out of bed in the morning, how much money could you save? You wouldn’t need your morning Starbucks or Target run after a hard day at work. If you feel fulfilled by your career, you might not try to inject purpose or excitement into your life by purchasing all the latest gadgets.
Although my salary is probably lower as an entrepreneur than it could be with a regular job, I spend less because I’m more satisfied with my life.
Frugality Is About Prioritizing What You Value
If I took the safer route of an HR job, I would’ve tried to continue being frugal like I am now. However, what’s the point of frugality and avoiding lifestyle creep if you’re not living the life you want?
In my mind, the point of frugality isn’t accumulating money just for the sake of it. Frugality is all about prioritizing the things you value. Downsizing your lifestyle in areas you don’t care about gives you the financial freedom to spend more on the things that are meaningful to you, whether that’s travel or home renovations.
For me, the most important thing in my life is probably my job. I don’t care much about travel, having nice clothes, eating out, or any other luxuries. Because I keep my expenses as low as possible, I can pursue lower-paying passion projects without compromising my financial goals.
It’s always possible that my financial situation could change, making self-employment insufficient for my needs. My partner and I are still undecided on whether or not we’ll have kids. If children come into the picture, I may need to break into a higher-paying, more stable career. My backup plan is to get more training through a master’s degree or postgraduate certificate program so I can switch jobs.
But who knows—maybe my business will be more successful than I’m anticipating! Wedding photographers can make six figures or more if they scale their business and bring on employees. That’s the great thing about entrepreneurship. Although business owners take on more risk, they can also experience bigger rewards than employees, either through increased compensation or better work-life balance.
I’ve been able to structure my schedule in a way that works for me as a freelance writer and work less so I can enjoy more free time. I’m looking forward to this next chapter and seeing what my life will look like as a wedding photographer once I finish training.
Do you think that it’s better to choose a stable career or a dream job? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Vicky Monroe is a freelance personal finance and lifestyle writer. When she’s not busy writing about her favorite money saving hacks or tinkering with her budget spreadsheets, she likes to travel, garden, and cook healthy vegetarian meals.