In this post, I will discuss why the notion of “Don’t do it for the money” should be reasonably questioned.
Before we delved into the article, let’s get a few facts out of the way.
- Fact 1: Our circumstances influence our wants and our needs.
- Fact 2: Doing something for money does not mean money is valued above everything else.
- Fact 3: Money is a useful tool.
- Fact 4: Stating that “Money does not bring happiness” is patently obvious (and it’s not what we’re discussing).
Let’s admit that it is much easier to say “Don’t do it for the money” when you have lots of money. This statement usually comes from a place of privilege—from folks who have never struggled a day in their lives—from those who never had to worry about where their next meal was coming from or whether they would be able to keep a roof over their heads.
When I was up to my eyeballs in debt and finding it increasingly difficult to pay for things my family and I needed to survive, our way out was finding new and/or alternative sources of income. I remember receiving a phone call from my younger brother, who was living in Southern California at the time. He knew of my family’s financial struggle and often teased me for rejecting his year-after-year offers to join him in the construction industry.
My passion was sharing space with learners in the hallowed halls of academia. And I did not want to leave my comfort zone for the dirt and grime of building construction. But I had reached a breaking point. So when my brother proposed an offer that would pay me in one week what I made in a month, I jumped on that deal. Well, my wife strongly encouraged me to accept the offer.
Three days after that life-changing phone call with my brother, I packed one suitcase and hopped on a flight to California. When I landed at LAX (Los Angeles International Airport), I was not mentally prepared and somewhat unwilling to commit to the uncertainty of change. I took this opportunity strictly for the money and for no other reason.
Resolving in my mind to leave academia after a decade was not an easy decision. I felt as if I was turning my back on an entire generation of learners. Nonetheless, facing a sink or swim situation, I chose to swim.
I realize, in many ways, the “Don’t do it for the money” concept represents a romantic view of the world. I am not sure, however, if it is practical. There are many people for whom money is not the primary aim. Yet, they are “doing it for the money” because of the dreams and goals money enables them to accomplish.
From where I was not too long ago to where I am today, I am glad I did it for the money. It has been my experience that having more money puts one in an advantageous position to afford life’s essential amenities, i.e., shelter, food, clothing, security, access).
I can attest that my wife and children are happier that I chose a new career path. They are thriving in ways $40k would not have allowed them to. I am in a significantly better position to support, sponsor, and fund their dreams without resorting to robbing Peter to pay Paul.
We know that money in itself neither guarantees happiness, nor was it intended to. We can also agree that money is a tool. A powerful and useful tool that, if wisely employed, can create meaningful experiences that lead to happiness and improve life-satisfaction.
Do you agree/disagree? Let me know your thoughts.