How do you balance a meaningful career with financial security? This is a question I get from a lot of members of the community!
A lot of people in the Work Life Money community work in the public service and non-profit sector that doesn’t have the financial resources to pay their employees the way the private sector does. And it can be really difficult to maintain that balance of meaningful career with financial security, wanting to build generational wealth and taking care of yourself and your family. But it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing.
This is something I struggled with for a long time. It can be difficult to feel like you can make a living while doing a meaningful career can seem impossible because of the rise of living costs.
In this article, I’m going to break down how to balance a meaningful career with financial security and although I’m going to gear to the public/non-profit sector because that’s where I came from, this can also apply to start-up companies. These are industries that don’t have the large financial resources that big corporations but does that mean you should give up on a meaningful career? Let’s get started and talk about it!
1. Defining What A Meaningful Career Means To You
The first thing you have to do to balance a meaningful career with financial security is to define what a meaningful career means to you. In order to do this, I have an exercise for you.
I know it’s tempting to just think of a meaningful career as you have to be abroad and volunteering in a developing country, and yes that is great if it is feasible for you, but a meaningful career doesn’t have to be defined by doing humanitarian work in your 9-5.
Exercise: Write down your career mission. A meaningful career does not have to be defined by an industry or job title, but instead, define it by the impact you trying to make on the world. What kind of impact do you want to make in 5 years? In 10 years?
Defining meaningful work by a career mission allows you flexibility on how you can achieve that goal. For example: If your mission is to make the world a more sustainable place, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have a job that allows you to clean up beaches and pollutants in developing countries. It can be working in a locally sustainable company, marketing sustainable products, or working in environmental policy. There are so many more avenues that this meaningful work can take and it also allows you to have flexibility in what you can do to work towards your career mission because you can utilize your time or resources to support other causes for that mission (i.e. volunteer for beach clean-ups).
Lastly, when it comes to your career mission, it’s important to think about what type of impact you want to make in 5 or 10 years. A successful career needs to have longevity and it can be hard to make an impact if you jump around every few years (trust me, I’ve been there). And while your job title might change, it’s important to attach yourself to that mission so it can guide you in making decisions regarding financial security.
2. Figure Out Your Ideal Salary
What does financial security look like to you? Only you can answer this question because it has so many variables like where you live, your life goals, whether or not you want to have a family, etc. In order to balance a meaningful career with financial security, you need to clearly define both terms.
Exercise: Take a look at your expenses and goals and write out a salary that you would be comfortable living on. Be honest with yourself on how much you will need to live and have an emergency fund. We will address how to get maintain the balance in the next section.
3. Select Your In-Demand Skill
After you have figured out the two areas of your life that need to be in balance, it’s time to start figuring out how to maintain that balance. Your skills are what will allow you to monetize your work, but not all skills are valued equally. You may be good at a lot of things, but not all of those skills might allow you to attain the ideal salary you need to maintain your balance.
Exercise: List out all the skills you enjoy using in your work and research the market value for each of them. Which one will allow you to best meet your ideal salary and lifestyle? Can you utilize different skills and allocate them to a side hustle if you want to use a skill but it comes short of your ideal salary?
4. Understand You Can Use Your Money/Time To Support Meaningful Causes
It can be hard to let go of a certain type of meaningful work, but that doesn’t mean it’s no longer a part of your identity. You are not your career.
When you look at balancing a meaningful career with financial security, it’s important to look at it from a holistic, not just what you do from 9-5.
You can use the money you make in a certain career to givhttps://www.helpx.net/e back and support the work you find meaningful. You can use your time that your work gives you to support meaningful causes. You are not your career. You can use our time off or vacation time to volunteer locally or abroad. You can utilize your time and resources to support or even create your own non-profit. It doesn’t make it any less impactful.
5. Remember That Taking Care Of Yourself Is Taking Care Of Others
The public sector is usually driven who are are altruistic and who will think of others before themselves. And that’s not always what is rewarded in capitalism because it designed to take advantage of people who put others first and reward those that think of themselves.
It can be easy to think that you have to dedicate yourself to others to avoid being sucked into the idea that putting yourself first is selfish, but taking care of yourself is taking care of others. There is no point in working yourself to the ground to help others if you are not able to care for yourself because eventually, you will become resentful of it.
One of the biggest mindset shifts I’ve had to make when it comes to balancing a meaningfulcareer with financial security is understanding that making income is making about making an impact. For people who are driven by helping others and making the earth a more sustainable place, it’s important to note that just because you make a lot of money, doesn’t mean you are taking from others if you can utilize that money to direct them to non-profits, NGOs, and organizations that can stand up to the fight of social justice.
The reason I’m so passionate about this is because there is so much money in this world be driven to support causes that are damaging the world. And by taking back a portion of it and re-investing it into social causes. It’s so important to divert resources back into companies that are sustainable, pay a livable wage, instead of solely being fueled by consumerism. It’s getting a little preachy, I know, but I truly believe meaningful work is important and taking care of the people doing it is equally as important. As someone who came from non-profit and the public sector, I’m tired of the narrative that people think that because this an area that can be underpaid or underfunded.
However, to shift the narrative, I do believe that we need to start taking back some of those resources only allowed to driving capitalism and re-direct that into helping others.
I take a little sense of adrenaline when I donate to causes I know are truly fighting back against social and environmental justice. I hope you enjoyed this podcast episode – make sure to listen to the whole thing for a more detailed plan!
If you have made it all the way to the end, thank you for reading this and your interest and work in helping others.