Career Change & Personal BrandingBlog

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Is there still time to choose passion over pay?

It’s not for me, I’m asking for a friend.

Ok, not a friend; for my dad actually. He soon turns 51 and he does a job he doesn’t like. Let this be the intro to the story. The truth is, I don’t want to be in that position when I become his age. (Which is in about thirty years; I’m 22.) But the thing is, it’s not like he’s always done the same thing; he’s made career changes many times in the past! So, did he never find his calling, or did he find it but let it slip? It’s discouraging to know you can try and try and try, but ultimately fail.

I’m not saying he failed. He has a nice house and car, is the breadwinner of a 6-member family and managed to get three kids through college. He IS successful, career-wise too. But is it worth it when he does his daily 2-hour commute to his job every day and spends another 9 hours of his life in a job that is extremely tiring and unfulfilling? Is the hard work paid off? Well, he’d say it is because he gained financial stability by it, but I’m not quite sure.

Does he even have a right to complain?

It’s not uncommon to grow into being okay with doing a job you don’t enjoy. After all, only 13% actually like what they do. By the way, his current job is on construction, but he’s been in business before. He says he was happy doing it, but he was ambitious to gaining more and that’s why he switched careers 180 degrees to his current one. This is depressing for it means one will do a job that pays more over one they love doing? Why can’t the payroll be equally good in the latter too?

‘Follow your dreams!’


I’m split between whether he did the right choice or not. Because it’s easy to say the almost-cliche mantra ‘Follow your dreams!’. I’m not against it, I wouldn’t advise anyone to not follow their passions, far from it. But, I think that you need to make sure that what you’re passionate about is also something you can also make a living of. The financial responsibilities that come with following one’s true passion (that doesn’t pay well) need to be kept in mind. Starting a family, paying off loans or even simply paying rent will always be a problem regardless of the amount of pleasure that job brings us.

The pursuit of money or happiness?

The pursuit of money is often linked to the pursuit of happiness making many argue that money equals happiness. But this mindset often leads people to stray down a path that is not suitable for them on the long run.

This takes me to myself. I feel like I’m in the same position as my dad when he did his own career switch from job happiness to salary. Wondering whether to stay in a job I like but doesn’t pay well or look elsewhere, for a job I know I’ll get and which offers a bigger paycheck.

After all, it’s normal to change jobs that do not satisfy us. According to statistics, the average baby boomer held 11.7 jobs in their lifetime. So, it’s healthy to switch until you find one that fulfills your passion AND financial expectancies.

Is it too late?

Younger workers don’t think twice before making a change, but how about when workers over the age of 50 want to, too? They often feel that the only choice they have is to “stick it out” until retirement. As a matter of fact, a whole lot of 80% of people age 45+ consider changing careers; only 6% actually do, according to research.  But why is that? Is it because they find career change intimidating? Why not spend the remainder of their working years in a new career?

A common misconception is that, after a certain age, it’s simply too late to make a career change. However, that is not true since the average age of retirement is rising and people over fifty have over 15 years of working life left in them, which is not little.

The role of experience

People aged 50 and over are in the unique position of having plenty of workforce experience to bring to the new career, while still being able to acquire the knowledge they need to take on something new. Plus, if they already know what they want to change their careers into – e.g. to finally follow a  forgotten dream, like my dad – it’s even easier for them.

The upsetting data given earlier on only 6% changing careers after 45 can be seen more positively after finding out that the transition to the new career of 82% of those that do is successful. Which means you only need the courage to defy the odds and do it! Moreover,  being in your fifties, you might even get a more adventurous soul after having the epiphany of time running out and perhaps decide to live each day to the fullest.

Know that relaunching your career, although not easy, can be done. Yes even at 50. There is always time. Time for your long-forgotten dreams, rather than the unfulfilling reality.

About guest writer Dafina Zymeri

Dafina Zymeri is passionate about writing, research, and personal development. She has studied abroad herself and now wants to help others in that direction. She aims to make a difference with her writing by intertwining her passions and experience into providing advice and guidance for students in her new blog Studying in Switzerland.

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About Joseph Liu

Joseph Liu helps aspiring professionals relaunch their careers to do work that matters. As a keynote speaker, career & personal branding consultant, and host of the Career Relaunch podcast, his passion is helping people gain the clarity, confidence, and courage to pursue truly meaningful careers. Having gone through three major career changes himself, he now shares insights from building & relaunching global consumer brands to empower professionals and business owners to build & relaunch their personal brands.

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