When making career-related decisions, many of us find that our heads and our hearts provide us with conflicting advice. And because the desire for security often wins out, many of us spend our lives living for the weekend, dreading Monday mornings when we have to head back to the grind.
It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, then, that research points to choosing your passion as the path to greater happiness.
In this particular study, researchers followed 450 high-school-level musicians over 11 years to see the effects of following a passion versus chasing a paycheck on happiness over time.
The researchers found that the students who were more passionate about music when they were in high school were more likely to pursue music as a profession. Interestingly, they were also more likely to rate their musical abilities positively, regardless of their actual level of musical talent.
In other words, regardless of whether or not they were actually more talented than their peers, the more passionate musicians believed more in their abilities and felt a stronger calling to pursue their dreams. And, because of their passion, they were more likely to exhibit the drive and persistence necessary to be able to find work in their chosen fields.
It's true that in choosing your passion, you might have to make some trade-offs. This study showed that the students who became professional musicians earned less than their peers who had chosen other career paths. (I'd argue that this isn’t a guaranteed outcome of following your passion — after all, your passion could be investment banking.)
More importantly, though, even with lower pay, the students who pursued their passions reported similar or greater levels of life and work satisfaction compared to their peers.
This is important, because often we choose the logical route because we believe that more money will make us happier. In contrast, this research shows that pursuing our passions is more likely to bring about that greater sense of well-being.
The findings of this study are in line with other research that has shown that people who view their job as a calling have higher job satisfaction, life satisfaction, and perhaps even better health — no matter what the job is.
The bottom line? Rumi got it right: “Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.” If you want to be satisfied with your life and work, listen to the call.
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