I was watching a TV show (on DVD) the other day that brought up an interesting debate should you keep a job that will help change the world or take one that makes you happy? Of course I rarely see things in completely black and white and thought why can’t you do both?
Then if you add in a requirement for a decent salary of course getting a job like that is going to be next to impossible. It does happen to the lucky few, but really most of us just have to and accept a job that is missing one or more of those items. After all job satisfaction is good, but it really isn’t happiness most of the time. Also I’m keeping the definition of changing the world rather open here to include helping just one person to have a better life all the way up to changing how everyone sees the world. So then what do you pick: money, changing the world or happiness as the primary reason you take a job?
My current day job I’ll have to admit it was a tie between changing the world and money for me. I knew taking the job I would be entering a work culture steep in tradition and one that is resistant to change. So basically I was guessing staying happy at this job would be difficult, so far I think I’ve been right. I’m not unhappy or miserable at the job, but I’m not happy every day either. I do manage to be satisfied at my job most days.
Meanwhile I pursue happiness via my writing where I certainly don’t expect to change the world or make decent money. If either of those do occur it will strictly be a byproduct rather than the focus of this job.
Therefore in the end I still mange to do all three, but just not in the same job. Which I think is often over looked by people. You don’t have to get everything you need in life from one job. It’s ok to have second job or hobby the fills in the void in your main job.
So with that in mind I suppose that is part of the reason I’m looking to become finanically independent. I want to do work that doesn’t need to worry about the money aspect anymore and then just take jobs based on changing the world or being happy.
How about you? What was the primary reason you took your job: money, changing the world or happiness and why?
Last week I was thinking about this post and I realized I really shouldn’t wait until I retire to get involved in politics. I’m not sure if I was going to like it, but I figure I should look into it. Since the civic election nomination period was on, I decided to give my local public school board representative a call and find out how much work was involved in doing the job. He happened to mention that he wasn’t running again so I started to give the matter some serious thought. That was last Thursday.
Last night I had it confirmed: I won by acclamation. If you had told me getting this job involved this little effort I would have laughed at you last week, but that’s the way it happened. So now I have a new title: politician.
Strangely enough getting the job is fairly straight forward. I had to just do the following:
- Pay a $100 deposit, which you get back if you win or get at least 10% of the vote.
- Get 10 signatures from those that live in the area in which you are running (they don’t even have to vote for you). This was much easier than I would have guessed. Just asking around at work got me a few and a couple of chance meetings got me the rest in just two days .
- Submit a candidate profile (150 words) and head shot picture for the election website.
- Do one interview with the local paper (15 minutes by phone). That was published on Tuesday.
- Worry and wonder how hard running a campaign was going to be.
To be honest I’ve done more work to get my day job (other than the worrying). Then the nomination period closed last night. By the time I had left work I had suspected I might have won, but I was waiting for official confirmation from the elections staff. I had that confirmed by about 7pm, which make this now the second time I got a position by acclamation. The first time was Chair of my local Engineering Association branch when I was living in BC.
On the entire affair I’m a bit torn. On one hand I’m thrilled I won in under a week from the minute I started thinking about it. On the other I’m a bit disturbed that no one else in my entire subdivision cared enough about our schools to run against me. People like to complain about taxes (often very loudly), but when it comes to being able to influence how they are used they run and hide. It’s a bit strange really, but I suppose not everyone is prepared to live in the public domain (ironically posting my net worth on this blog for the last three years has helped me prepare for that).
Now my Tuesday nights during the school year is mainly spoken for the next three years of my term which starts in November, but on the other hand I do get paid. I’m not sure exactly how much but I seem to recall finding a document that maximum a member of council can earn is around $23,000/year. But when you consider a Member of Parliament pulls down $157,731 (from MoneySense Oct 2009 edition), I’m a bloody bargain regardless of what they pay me.
I picked up The Number by Lee Eisenberg and was pleasantly surprised by the book. It’s a interesting read with a liberal amount of humor so it makes for a quick read.
Lee starts off wondering about his own number and how much he needs for the rest of his life. He then points out the difficulties of actually getting to the number since there are so many factors to consider like:
- Living in a culture where debt is so common getting your finances in order feel like climbing a mountain.
- People being generally utter confused on how money works and have no motivation to learn.
- The old retirement supports like a defined pension or generous government benefits are slipping away for most people.
- Living with the uncertainty of doubt around future benefits like your corporate pension plan going bankrupt or an angry stock market god smashing your savings to bits (the book was written in 2006, so I don’t think he was predicting 2008).
Then through conversations with various experts Lee slowly brings us to face the fact the Number is a sneaky beast that changes colours and escapes the second you think you are close to getting it.
Yet perhaps the most useful things Lee brings people around to understanding is your financial planner now a days needs more than a good model to get the Number, he needs to also be a therapist to extract out of your brain your real desires and needs and use that information to build up your number.
Since let’s face it. If you don’t know what you want to do in your retirement calculating how much you need for it is a useless exercise. You will get a Number, but it won’t be useful to plan anything on. Having a winter home in the US and living in BC is a completely different number than living in a small town in Ontario for retirement. Also are you planning on some work, what are your hobbies, did you want to be near your grandkids, what are you going to do all day?
So overall I enjoyed this book alot. It’s honest enough to say the Number depends on various factors and understanding it all is confusing. Yet in the end, find what works for you and plan for that.