Should You Ditch Your “Good Job” To Follow Your Low-Paying Passion Career?

Being stuck in a job that pays well, but is unfulfilling, is a common situation. And my clients often ask me how to make the leap to follow a passion. The stress of this situation and the fear of losing income holds many people back.

If this is you, you may have some people simply telling you to go for it – “life’s too short” and others expressing their confusion and warning you of the risks – “don’t be stupid, why would you leave such a great job?”

Everyone’s situation is unique and personal. There are always many variables.

I’m a scientist, so I like to break decisions down into a process and consider the facts and figures. I also have a background in risk management … which will become apparent as you read further!

So, if you’re in this situation, here are some critical questions to work through.

Money vs Passion Question #1

Why do you want to make the change? What will the new career or business give you that your current work doesn’t? Write down your thoughts, and be as specific as possible. Challenge yourself on any assumptions.

Money vs Passion Question #2

How confident are you that your career move will be successful? Can you meet your own expectation of greater satisfaction, meaning, flexibility, life balance, etc. that you expressed in the answer of Question #1? Rate your confidence out of 10. And ask yourself how comfortable you are with the level of risk.

If your level of comfort is low, consider how to the gain confidence you’re missing. Consider options like studying, part-time or volunteer work in the field, connecting with relevant networks (online and offline), subscribing to industry publications or interviewing people who are doing the work already. As you can see, there are many ways to immerse yourself. Learn before committing to a major move.

Money vs Passion Question #3

What is the pay cut? Be specific here. What’s the actual dollar figure? And what information/assumptions are you basing your calculations on? Is there a way to make the shift but earn more than this?

Also consider the income potential over time. Could you work your way back to your current income (or higher)? How long will that take? It’s important to be really clear so you can carefully plan how to handle the loss of income and avoid financial stress.

Money vs Passion Question #4

What will this potential decrease of income mean to you? What savings or compromises would you need to make and for how long? Be clear in your mind what the ‘real cost’ to you would be. Consider how you feel about making these changes. Would they be worth the pay-off?

Money vs Passion Question #5

Finally, you can put the pieces of the puzzle together for your personal situation. As I said, your circumstances and desires are unique. So you need to consider each of these factors as they relate to you. Is the reward high enough? The risk of failure low enough? And the cost worth it? If so, then listen to those friends who say “Go for it!”

If not, ask yourself what needs to change. Perhaps you need to build up some savings, learn more about the new field or perhaps this process has got you thinking of a different option altogether.

In any case, the above questions will provide greater clarity and de-risk the process of following your passion.


The views and opinions expressed are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of

image credit: Bigstock/fizkes

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