Point of View

Money or passion: the dilemma of choosing a career

money or passion in career

September is my birth month and lately, I have thought of many things in my life, including my personal growth. I’m going 24 in the next few days and I thought of writing something personal⁠—that is the dilemma of working for money or passion.

I grew up in a lower-middle-class family and I am the eldest daughter. In an Asian family setting, the eldest child is usually responsible for helping the parents and siblings financially when they grow up. That is why the pressure to finish school and land a great job is real for those who are in the same position as me. However, I wouldn’t say I was forced to do this, and that, like how Asian parents are stereotyped. It was my initiative to help my family. And at least, I was able to choose the course I liked back in college.

Realizing my passion for writing

When I was in high school, we had a subject called Journalism which basically taught us all about news writing, editorial writing, copywriting, and whatnot. My forte back then was editorial cartooning and we used to compete with other schools, region-wide and nationwide. Competing with other aspiring journalists was one of my unforgettable memories in high school. I was later assigned as the editor-in-chief of our school newspaper and awarded as Journalist of the Year when I graduated.

All the experiences I had learned in this subject led me to choose a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism in college. All I know is that it’s what I am most familiar with, so I took it.

In 2015, a publisher reached out to me and told me they were interested to publish my book which I posted on Wattpad. Of course, in exchange, they would pay me. I didn’t expect it would get noticed, since it’s a novel I wrote two years back. Besides, it doesn’t have an outstanding plot because I just wrote it out of a hobby. Lo and behold, I found my story being sold on bookstores. They even invited me to book signings! Still, the happiest part of my teenage years.

money or passion in career
via Pexels

Eventually, I had to decide

As the years went by in college, the reality of being in the world of media kicked in. We heard stories of what it’s like in the field, the overworking, depreciating, and underpaying media practitioners. It’s like our professors were straight-up telling us only passionate journalists can survive in the industry. Because, as they said, journalism won’t feed a family. Which is kind of true.

When you’re working in a print newspaper, journalists are commonly paid with a minimum wage. It’s lower if you work in a provincial newspaper. Mostly, you even have to pay for your transportation, meals, and other expenses you have to spend when doing coverages. Unless you are lucky to work in a TV network or a well-known news portal, I guess the situation is better. Or maybe, just the same as many.

These stories made me think about whether to pursue journalism. Here comes the dilemma of working for money or passion. I had to think objectively. Again, I am the eldest in the family and I had a dream to give them a comfortable life. So, eventually, I had to decide on my career.

Related: What to do when you’re having a quarter-life crisis

Taking the leap

In my college, we were required to undergo two kinds of internship – first is at newspapers, second is at any media-related industry (PR, broadcast, communication research, etc.). I took my second internship at a PR agency. Before I graduate, they offered me a job with a pretty decent salary for an entry-level position. I thought it’s my chance, I wouldn’t have to apply for jobs and wait to get hired. I would be able to immediately provide support to my family. In short, I started working with them, three days after I graduate.

I observed that many of my college batchmates as well are taking jobs that aren’t specifically journalism. But I don’t look down at my friends who are working in newspapers, radio stations, and broadcast networks. I’m proud that they pursued it!

Although, sometimes, I think about what could have been if I were in a more comfortable situation and grew up without the pressure to earn and provide. I probably would have worked in the field or a TV station. Or, maybe as a radio broadcaster, or as an editorial assistant.

But this is my reality. And I accept it.

However, I am not saying I am not happy with my current job. I am not even shy saying people that I took PR instead of a journalism job because to be realistic about it, I had to choose money and wished that the passion for my chosen career would grow. It did. I eventually started liking the work. It still gives me the chance to write in the form of press releases, event scripts, media advisories, and all.

money or passion in career
via Unsplash


To anyone who is going through the same dilemma – whether they would work for money or passion, think about it a thousand times. The best tip I can give is to understand your priority. If you feel like you would dare work for something you are passionate about even if it pays less, it’s okay. If you think it’s more important to land a job that pays well even if it’s not related to what you studied, that’s still okay. Working for money in a decent job is normal, especially if it what helps you live a better life. You’re not wasting your years⁠⁠—you’re trying to live.

What’s important is, whatever you decide on, be proud of it. Take what you think is best for you, and no amount of judgment should demotivate you from what you’re doing.

(38) Comments

  1. This is such a good post and very inspiring. I’m very lucky to have been able to pick the job that I love. I think it’s also worth adding, life changes and priorities change. What you love now, may be different in 10 years, the money situation may be different and once your siblings are grown ups, they won’t be reliant on you.

    Thanks for sharing
    Mrs D

    1. I actually thought of that. It’s really about the priority at the moment. Besides, we have a lifetime to work for passion. Thanks for reading x

    2. It’s so hard to do both the 9-5 and your passion. That’s what I’ve been trying to do and it turns out I don’t have enough time to actually make money on my passion project. It’s a tough decision!

  2. An interesting read, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this! I’ve worked solely for the money for about 15 years. For couple years the idea of working for myself on my own terms had grown and about a month ago I was fired and decided NOT to apply for another job again. I’m not making any money yet, still looking for clients as a freelancer, but I’ve never been busier and so happy to be so. I know what I’m doing and I love what I do, and even though I’m not paid (yet), I wouldn’t change this! So, for me it turns out that money is definitely not my main motivation professionally. It’s doing what I want. It’s a good question to really think about, why do I work the way I do and should I.

    Teresa Maria | Outlandish Blog

    1. Good for you! It’s nice to know that people like you who chose their passion is not feeling any regret about it. Wishing you all the best on your career x

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this, it is so hard to choose which path to take!

    1. Wow this is truly inspiring and I love your storytelling. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Nicola Dale Training says:

    I love how you look at taking the PR job so positively and so happy to hear you’re enjoying it. And your completely right about being proud of your decisions, it’s so important. Great post! X

    Nicola | nicoladaletraining.com

  5. Very insightful post! My career choice was not well paying, either. Instead, I wanted to save the world! I became a social worker. Lower paying professions can be emotionally rewarding, but to meet financial obligations it’s important to avoid debt and save as much as you can. I’m working on catching-up retirement savings and wish I would have started saving sooner!

    1. That’s nice! Wishing you the best on your retirement savings x

  6. Michelle says:

    It’s such a difficult thing to decide: do I follow my passion and make little money; or do I find something I’m good at but don’t love and make a lot of money? It really is up to you.
    I chose my passion and I’m not making much money from it, but luckily it’s not expected of me to take care of my parents or siblings (although I pitch in whenever I can).
    I think this dilemma is harder on men, because they are usually expected to take care of the wife and family (here in South Africa) so stability is a key factor in their decision making.

    It’s just hard.

    All the best, Michelle (michellesclutterbox.com)

  7. This is an incredibly important post, I went through a similar thought process last year too. In the end, I chose passion over money. While my job isn’t the most well-paid, I thoroughly enjoy it and that is what’s most important to me. Thanks for sharing!

    Sophie | loveandliterature.co.uk

  8. This is a really interesting debate and one I think a lot of people have – especially now the prospects of the online world are picking up all the time. Right now for me, it’s passion. I’m lucky that I’m able to make money from my passion but I know I could be earning more if I did something else. It’s important to reassess your situation regularly to ensure you’re happy with it but ultimately, it’s up to you at the end of the day!

  9. Passion vs Money is always a dilemma to everyone. As for me, I prefer to choose passion even tho I own less. Having a job with money doesn’t satisfy me all the time.

  10. Writing is my passion as well, so your story of being able to share your story unexpectedly with the world heartens me! It is hard choice to choose between passion and money and your story helped add to my thoughts on the matter. The best choice for me would be a juggle between both!

  11. I understand what you’re saying here. I have been writing for 20 years and have a degree in journalism. The job prospects in journalism are tight and the money isn’t good. It was never good but now, with the shrinking field, it seems there is less money to be made as a journalist.
    Even worse, the only feedback you tend to get is negative. It comes from people who don’t like what you do. You might get something from someone you work with but you can’t get any more feedback or insights from your readers. It can be frustrating. It truly is a passion. It just not one the readers always understand.

  12. Abundance of Flavor says:

    These are great tips and a dilemma I’m sure everyone goes through at some point. I like how you supported both options and how it may be different for different people, or depending on what season of life you’re in. Also, happy early birthday!! mine is in a few days too!

  13. Great post.

    I think it’s very hard when it comes to a career you love and one that pays well. I work in a school, the pay is low but the work life balance is spot on. Lots of time with my children plus a job I love. I just have to ignore the fact it’s not as much money as I was earning before children x

  14. jenyscloset says:

    Great post. I also enjoy writing. but for me, my top priority is retail shop and fashion. Thanks for sharing your journey. Would love to read your book.

    BLOG- https://jenyscloset.wixsite.com/jenyscloset/post/style-with-me-this-summer

  15. “ You’re not wasting your years, you’re just trying to live.” This was something I needed to read. I have had the biggest dilemma with choosing which road to take and it’s tormented me the entire year. It was very comforting to read and thank you for sharing , it’s definitely helped me feel less alone.

  16. Its the age-old dilemma isn’t it? The ideal is a job that you love and which pays well. Unfortunately, there aren’t many of those. So the majority of us have to choose love or money. I took the view that my love/fun/enjoyment takes place outside of work (with family and friends) and so I found a job that would pay me enough to do what I wanted to do outside of work. And, of course, if you are able to, you can put money into pensions and savings so that you can leave your job early – and spend more time enjoying yourself outside of work.

    Work to live, not live to work! 🙂

    1. That’s actually a nice way to look at it. And yes, we shouldn’t work for a job throughout our life. Work so you can invest in a business or savings so you can leave the job early. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  17. This was enjoyable to read I so much loved the statement where you said understand your priority and taking what’s best for you since I’m a strong believer of living your life the way you want it in your own terms. It’s also such an inspiration seeing people like you having made it this far in their lives at this age wishing more of the best in your journey. Thank you for sharing this was a great helpful post that gives someone something to think about.

  18. Omg I have this struggle right now! My life has been pretty crazy. I’m not passionate about what I do right now, but my schedule is awesome! I have a lot to think about. Thanks for sharing!!

  19. chasinpalmtrees says:

    Awesome post! I think it’s important to be passionate in what you do and to explore all the avenues and interests that you have. You never know where it can lead!

  20. You’re so right – and it can be SO tough to choose between the two!
    Carrie xx

  21. The discovery and publishing of your early work is so special, even moreso because much of it was unintentional. This is a really tricky topic and very much an individual path. Id’ say this though from experience: nothing is forever. The traditional approach of a “lifetime job” is no more. What can be exciting (and scary, haha) is the pivot….life could look like this: 20’s PR rockstar, 30’s editorial lead! Gosh, if only we had a crystal ball..I want the one with the “where are you in 5 years” lens!

  22. Really well thought out & great advice for others. Always choices in life and the ability to make a good decision at least for now, is so important.

  23. “I grew up in a lower-middle-class family and I am the eldest daughter. In an Asian family setting, the eldest child is usually responsible for helping the parents and siblings financially when they grow up. That is why the pressure to finish school and land a great job is real for those who are in the same position as me. However, I wouldn’t say I was forced to do this, and that, like how Asian parents are stereotyped. It was my initiative to help my family. And at least, I was able to choose the course I liked back in college.”

    I could relate to every word of this paragraph. Very beautiful article. Well written. Btw, what was the book that you wrote on Wattpad?

    P.S. Happy Birthday to you! <3

  24. I’ve had this dilemma a lot in the last year! It’s only in the last few months that I’ve been able to use my passion to help me pursue my goals and pay my bills. I had to work for money to get to this point!


  25. This post is so thought provoking, I’m in the position of whether I should take the leap of doing what I really love or staying with the job that is bringing me in the income I need, this post has really helped me, thank you! x

    Lucy | http://www.lucymary.co.uk

  26. Having known quite a few people who have gone down the money route, they often find themselves feeling down and unsatisfied after a few years. Having lots of money isn’t that great if you hate every moment you are at work. Happiness and finding what you are passionate about is more important and if you can make money from this then you’re winning at life!

    Jen – http://www.thelifestuff.co.uk/

  27. The Cheetah Buzz says:

    I love your story because I can definitely relate to this. Coming from an African household, the only jobs that are respected as a female are nursing, lawyers, doctors, and engineers. I was supposed to major in Biology my freshman year of college so that I could be an Obstetrician later in life. The sad part was I hated it so much and I knew that I was only doing it to please my parents. So I decided to make the hard choice, disappoint them and pursue my passion in Journalism. Though the pay is not great, I was happy in doing that and now that I am on a journey to pursuing a blogging career, I love it xxx

    1. Oh, I guess the culture of parents making a decision for their kids’ career is a thing even in non-Asian countries. I’m glad you fought for your passion and enjoying it 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  28. Hey girl! You’re still lucky that you knew early on that writing is something you really wanted to pursue as a career whether it’s for TV/radio or in PR. I know you’ll be fine wherever you are. I quit my corporate job to write for a living and it’s been great so far. My monthly income is lower than what I’m earning back in the corporate but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in this life – it’s to aim for your happiness first, you can earn money any time.☺️

    1. That’s the beauty of freelancing, actually. You are at your own pace. Keep going!

  29. This is a great post. My boyfriend trained as a journalist and it’s his lifelong passion- to the extent that he’s been super hesitant about trying for any work that’s not in the industry- even when he needs the cash. I think part of that though is because he got told while studying he couldn’t make a living in journalism- which he was determined to disprove. As someone who’s never really known what they want to do and who’s gone into several random jobs because they’ll pay the bills it’s not something I completely understand but I try to be supportive. If your passion is in a poorly paid or vanishing industry it’s a really hard choice but I do sometimes think you need to think laterally and look at where else your skills could take you- like you you may even enjoy it! Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Thank you for sharing this 🙂 I’m sure he appreciates your support amidst the challenges brought by his job.

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