Change the World or Be Happy?

I was watching a TV show (on DVD) the other day that brought up an interesting debate should you keep a job that will help change the world or take one that makes you happy?  Of course I rarely see things in completely black and white and thought why can’t you do both?

Then if you add in a requirement for a decent salary of course getting a job like that is going to be next to impossible.  It does happen to the lucky few, but really most of us just have to and accept a job that is missing one or more of those items.  After all job satisfaction is good, but it really isn’t happiness most of the time.  Also I’m keeping the definition of changing the world rather open here to include helping just one person to have a better life all the way up to changing how everyone sees the world.  So then what do you pick: money, changing the world or happiness as the primary reason you take a job?

My current day job I’ll have to admit it was a tie between changing the world and money for me.  I knew taking the job I would be entering a work culture steep in tradition and one that is resistant to change.  So basically I was guessing staying happy at this job would be difficult, so far I think I’ve been right.  I’m not unhappy or miserable at the job, but I’m not happy every day either.  I do manage to be satisfied at my job most days.

Meanwhile I pursue happiness via my writing where I certainly don’t expect to change the world or make decent money.  If either of those do occur it will strictly be a byproduct rather than the focus of this job.

Therefore in the end I still mange to do all three, but just not in the same job.  Which I think is often over looked by people.  You don’t have to get everything you need in life from one job.  It’s ok to have second job or hobby the fills in the void in your main job.

So with that in mind I suppose that is part of the reason I’m looking to become finanically independent.  I want to do work that doesn’t need to worry about the money aspect anymore and then just take jobs based on changing the world or being happy.

How about you?  What was the primary reason you took your job: money, changing the world or happiness and why?

5 thoughts on “Change the World or Be Happy?”

  1. Thanks for the post, it hit close to home.
    We had volunteer positions overseas with an NGO. The small stipend was not a big deal because we were excited about the work we were doing and how it changed people’s lives.
    Now we are back in Canada to be with family. I have a modest salary and a job that, while it has many perks and RRSP matching, just does not have the same “I’m changing the world for the better” value.
    One benefit of the NGO gig is that there is the possibility of contract and consulting work if you stay in it long enough. This can give you opportunities for travel and government consulting jobs into retirement if your background fits well with the buzzwords and policy trends.

  2. I’ve always envisioned myself going into the teaching profession or volunteering if I ever won the lottery. Personally, I find both to be extremely rewarding in shaping minds today and in the future. Good post…


  3. Hi, this post is so relevant to my current situation.

    In my case I chose the job because I needed the money. If I didn’t need it I would entirely opt for happiness first. That was my reality a few years ago when I had savings and was self-employed, but with a mortgage things are slightly different and I feel “trapped” to take the “so-so” jobs that pay well as opposed to doing really fun stuff that might not pay very well.

    What I always try to remind myself is that TIME is not something we can EVER regain, so wasting time doing brainless activities is a bad thing.

    Unfortunately I can’t follow that at the moment but if I had the choice I would value my time/life over anything else.

  4. Alex,

    I partly agree with you. Wasting time doing brainless activities happens all the time with people. Playing a video game, watching TV, watching a movie… you get the idea. Some activities like that are fine, but you shouldn’t do too many of them.

    On a work related note, I know I dislike time wasting activities as well, but sometimes you have to do some of them. As long as it not too much of your job I don’t mind some mindless work. I would go nuts if I did it all the time.


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