British-born philosopher, writer, and speaker Alan Watts (1915-1973) asks listeners in this brilliant video, “what would you like to do if money were no object?”
Many, when Watts would ask this question, would respond with culturally-enriching (albeit low-paying) careers such as painters, poets, and writers. Many shied away from these because there is simply no money to be made.
Watts would respond to these by saying that if you find something you love to do, do that; and to forget about the money. “If you say that getting money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You will be doing things you don’t like doing, in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid.”
Watts’ philosophy covers the “do you live to work, or work to live?” mantra; while some people work every day 9-5 doing a job they don’t particularly like doing just to make money and go on working, others work in order to have a better life for themselves outside of work – to expand their cultural horizon, and to be with the ones they love. As Watts puts it – “it’s better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing, than a long life spent in a miserable way.”
Many students who are finishing up college soon (I would be one of those people) should seriously consider this question – if money were no object, what would you like to do every day?
I am not saying that money should have no importance in your life; it is definitely important to ensure the health and well-being of yourself and your loved ones, but it is a factor that must be weighed when plotting out your future career. Is is really worth working 12-hour days if it means more time away from your friends and family, even if it also means a larger paycheck?
Not so long ago, one of my best friends and I were talking about our futures. He works as an accountant at a small community college, where I know he would definitely be able to move up to a higher-paying position if he wanted to. He seemed against the idea of moving up to a higher-paying (but higher-responsibility) position, because it meant working much longer hours during the week and sometimes on the weekends as well. The added responsibility and stress of a higher position just wasn’t worth the additional salary he would receive. At the time, I thought he was crazy to not try for a better-paying position, but now I realize that he has his priorities in the right order.
So what would you do, if money wasn’t a factor? Let me know in the comment section!