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“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Clearly, back in Confucius’s day, he’d never heard of “outsourcing” or “industrialization”.
I used to love this quote in high school. Back when I was a special little snowflake and thought the world was full of rainbows, unicorns, and gumdrops.
Fast-forward 10 years.
After crawling through the engineering trenches and working long hours in the dark, concrete jungles of the corporate world, I realized the cold hard truth:
The world doesn’t owe you the Perfect Job
This is why, even after years of writing and becoming a published author on the side, I could barely afford food with my writing income, but my engineering income let me retire by the age of 31.
The world valued my coding skills WAY more than my writing skills. Coding jobs were everywhere without enough coders to fill them, whereas everyone I knew was trying to write the next “Twilight” and publishers were going out of business.
That’s why I knew looking for the perfect job was pointless. Because the world doesn’t owe you a job that you love. The world doesn’t owe you a job that’s fun, stable, AND high-paying. And because I’m no longer a Very Special Snowflake or VSS, I can handle this truth.
But my Very Special Snowflake friend, Ben, can’t. He’s been complaining about not being able to find the perfect job for the past 10 years. When I asked him what type of job he was looking for, he said, “stable and low-stress.”
“You mean like a government or non-profit job?”
Ben wrinkled his nose. “Work your butt off while the slackers get away with murder? Hell no.”
“But that’s why it’s stable. Because you can’t fire people easily,” I pointed out.
“Yeah, no. I said I wanted a stable job, not a mindless, soul-sucking one.”
Eye roll. “Okay, how about the private sector? You could work for a software company or be in finance.”
“Um, constant stress and no stability? No thanks.”
“How about a lower paying job? At least you won’t be as stressed.”
He raised an eyebrow. “So you’ve invented a way for my mortgage to magically pay for itself?”
I looked around the restaurant and spotted a bunch of crotchety looking old dudes in the corner. “Oh look! Better people!” And then scampered off, leaving Ben to bask in his own self-righteous glory.
You see, as a “very special snowflake” or a VSS, Ben cares about 3 things when it comes to finding a job:
Fun, stability, and money.
Here’s the harsh truth: Of those 3 things, you can only have 2.
Fun and Stable:
In the top left section, you have your fun and stable jobs. Jobs like these include teachers and librarians. The work here may be enjoyable, maybe even along something you’re passionate about! What’s a Very Special Snowflake not to love?
Hmm, for some reason they don’t pay very well. Or at least, not anymore.
These types of jobs used to be taxpayer-funded, with powerful unions protecting their cushy benefits/pensions and shielding them from the layoffs that the rest of us working stiffs have to put up with. But as we know, unions are steadily declining and most people don’t have pensions anymore. Now, opened up to the laws of supply/demand, EVERYONE wants these jobs, so as a result the salary being offered goes down. After all, if you don’t like it there’s 100 people lining up behind you willing to take it.
Fun and High-Paying:
And in the top right section, you have your fun and high-paying jobs, like athlete, rock star, or best-selling author. Basically, the dream jobs. Fun AND high-paying? Sign me up, right?
There’s a reason these are called “Dream Jobs.” Because one minute they’re there and the next, POOF, they’re gone. Ignoring even the difficulty of making it into one of these, a long-term career in one of these fields is exceptionally rare to pull off. NFL players are constantly one bad injury away from ending their career, rock stars come and go, and even best-selling authors like Stephanie Meyer never reach their previous level of success ever again.
So these jobs are highly desirable but also very risky. Hard to make it, and even harder to stay in it.
Stable and High-Paying:
And in the bottom right, you have your stable and high-paying jobs, like accountant, lawyer, engineer, or doctor.
These jobs are the STEM jobs that every stereotypical Asian parent loves pushing their kids into. They also happen to be the jobs with the most demand but the least supply, since they require years and years of schooling to qualify. As a result, in order to attract workers these jobs come with high pay and are typically stable (or at least, as stable as any job can be these days), but fun?
Guess what, that money ain’t free. If you’re getting paid north of $100k to do a job, your employer is going to want to make sure they get their money’s worth. Even jobs (like mine) that start off with a reasonable work-life balance slowly but surely slide into the world of thankless drudgery, pointless bureaucracy, and life-sucking overtime.
Fun, Stable, AND High-Paying:
Now you see that middle section where all 3 intersect? That dream job where you get paid a butt-load of money to have tons of fun and never get laid off?
Wait, what’s that? There’s nothing there?
Why is that exactly?
Is it because those jobs don’t actually exist? Is it because no company in their right mind would continuously shower you with money so they can go bankrupt while you get to have fun?
Look, I’ve been there. I was once naïve and optimistic that such a job exists. I mean, there’s gotta be people out there who love their jobs, don’t have to worry about getting laid off, and still get paid butt-loads of money right? RIGHT?!
Well, after 11 years looking for said job, I realized just like unicorns, leprechauns, and my buddy Ben’s self-awareness…
The Perfect Job Doesn’t Exist
So are we all doomed? Does that mean we’re all doomed for mediocrity and never living out our dreams?
Well, no….hold on a second…what’s that tiny font in the middle?
Let’s just zoom in shall we?
THERE! See that right there?
Right there in the tiny intersection of fun, stability, and high pay is…
Because The Perfect Job doesn’t exist…unless you create it yourself.
And in order to be able to create it yourself, you have to have enough F-U money to not NEED one anymore.
F-U money is magical for a lot of reasons, but basically this gives you the option to either
a) create your own perfect job, or
b) transform your existing job
Because once you have enough F-U money, your portfolio PAYS you to do whatever you like. You can work as much or as little as you want.
You can do what you love, have the stability without the stress, and get paid to have fun.
That’s why working for myself, while not having to worry about hustling hard to find clients, is the best job I’ve ever had. I can switch between blogging, writing children’s books, and coding. And my “salary” comes from my investment portfolio whether I work 40 hours or 0 hours a week. So now I never have to stress out about the money or worry about work-life balance and I feel completely fulfilled. And not only that, since I’m no longer tied to a job, I get to do all this while travelling around the world!
But hey, I get that not everyone wants to travel around the world or work for themselves (psychopaths and nut-jobs, mostly). And for these people, having F-U money STILL gives you that dream job. Because what F-U money does is swing the power away from your employer to you.
Because you are no longer your boss’s bitch, you can now say NO to doing things you don’t want to do. You can have fun being insolent and who cares if they fire you? You don’t need the money. And if the job is really that bad, just walk away and find a better one! You can even take crazy fun jobs that may not pay well, or be that stable, because who cares about those things anymore? You have F-U money!
So instead of being a Very Special Snowflake and chasing the perfect job, like Ben, become FI instead. Because the only perfect job is the one you create for yourself. And the only way to do that is to have enough F-U money to walk away.