When you’re trying to choose a job, whether it’s at the very beginning of your career (or before! The subject choices you make in school feed directly into the jobs available to you when you graduate) or when you’re looking for a change after spending some years toiling at the same job, you face a dilemma. Should you work for the money, or for love? Do you default to pursuing the highest paid jobs you’re qualified for, or do you go after the passion projects that feel meaningful even if they can’t keep you in the style to which you’d like to become accustomed.

If you’re facing this quandary there are several factors you need to bear in mind, and today we’re putting them under the glass to help you make the right decision – whether to pursue the bottom line above all else, or to compromise on pay to pursue passion and meaning, whether that’s as an artist or by retraining for mental health nurse jobs.

The Basics

The first thing you have to consider is the most basic: can you pay the bills? Can you pay the rent? Can you support the people who are relying on you?

When you’re choosing jobs to apply for, and career paths to pursue the most important thing to bear in mind is your ability to meet the most basic obligations and necessities of life. Retraining as a speech therapist might make you happy and feel meaningful but if you also need to contribute to the upkeep of a young family who are relying on you, this isn’t a good time to back out of an existing, well paid job.

You can of course look to cut down your outgoings to make the pursuit of a lower paying career more realistic. If you’ve been ‘spending up’ to a high salary, with the latest mobile phones, subscriptions to every service and the luxury living that comes with a high rent, you can spend a year or so gradually cutting this down: moving to less expensive home, moving to cheaper contracts with your mobile provided and limiting your budget in other ways so that when you take a pay cut it’s less of a shock to your system.

What Success Looks Like

You also have to consider what success looks like for you: if your ultimate goal in life is financial security, or the possession of a house, you need to pursue jobs that pay enough for you to meet those ambitions. You’ll be weighing up pay, benefits, and indeed pension provision when you’re looking for your next job.

On the other hand, your goals might be less financial: the ability to work from home, time to spend with your loved ones, use of your degree are all possible values to build a career on, and as long as you recognise they might not reward you with as much money then you’ll likely be very happy.