Why I accepted a $137,218 pay cut last year

Having just completed my tax return for the last 12 months I can share with you that I took a little bit of a pay cut last year to explore my passion for coaching. It felt like the right thing to do. Whilst you may look at this as a huge sacrifice I see it as an absolutely necessary part of my personal and professional development. How many of you reading this are saying to yourself “Wow!, how cool would it be to take a year out and pursue [insert your passion here].”

Although you may not need to do what I did and leave your “day job” for a year, there are actions related to your passions that you can (and should) take.

Passions—what’s the big deal?

Passion: Any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling.

A large part of what makes us human is our ability to experience higher (moral) type emotions and be compelled to act on them. Ok, I admit, making decisions based solely on feelings is dangerous and not recommended BUT to only use intellect to decide your way through the world makes no sense either. Understanding your passions and how they influence your behaviour, moods and baseline level of contentment is an important part of not only living a rich and fulfilling life but also useful in managing yourself (e.g. emotional intelligence).

So if you have a nagging feeling around a passion and feel compelled to do something about it my suggestion is to take some time out to really examine what exactly it is that is trying to express itself. A lot of my coaching work helps professionals do this [end of sales pitch ;-)]

Making money versus making meaning

I’ve spoken before about how there is a bit of a myth re there being this professional nirvana where ‘work is life’ and ‘life is work’,  you are in flow 100% of the time and where weekends are irrelevant. That’s great and maybe aspirational but for the other 99.9% of the population having to manage the tension between work/non-work time is a real issue.

Most of my coaching clients discuss with me their meaning-making mechanism; what helps them define who they are and give their life purpose. Sometimes work is a large part of this mechanism sometimes not so much, regardless, clients still want me to help them progress professionally BUT not at the expense of how they make meaning in their life. So if you consider passions (and the associated feelings and compulsions) as indicators of what is meaningful to you (or helps you make meaning) then your passions need to be given room to be expressed otherwise you risk earning lots of money but feeling empty and unfulfilled (meaning-less).

Aim for ‘and’ not ‘or’

So my goal in having a year out of my chosen profession of managing organisational change in large corporates was aimed at exploring my passions and then “re-integrating” them into my professional life. I am at the point now where it is not coaching or work in large corporates but ‘and’; where I combine the two and in the process enjoy both pursuits more. Going for an ‘and’ approach to making meaning and money often has a price, in my case it cost me an investment of $137,218 to be exact ;-)

Are you prepared to pay a price to make room for passion in your life? I would argue the price for not doing so is far, far higher…

I’m interested in how my readers manage the tension between work/life, making meaning and money. Please respond below in the comments section to kick of some discussion.


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