Jul 12, 2009

Perspective on Money

In case you already know what you like doing but don't quite have a courage to focus on it because you think it won't be financially comfortable, I want to share what I had discovered after I had given up steady (well, as long as you aren't laid off one day all of a sudden) paychecks.

Money becomes less of a concern when you are doing what you really enjoy.

I know this doesn't sound like a new discovery. In fact, I've heard this many times from many sources before. I'm sure you have, too. But I did not completely understand this until I actually started to do what I liked. And when I understood it, it was like realizing there there was another dimension of world. I could not believe that it had always existed and I never noticed it.

I don't much care for owning things. I usually find shopping as a necessary chore rather than leisurely activity. So money isn't important to me in that sense. But still, it was something that I needed to buy convenience and security, build retirement fund, and pay bills. I was busy and I needed to buy “time” by paying for services or convenient goods. So much was at risk (or so I felt) that I needed additional insurance and emergency funds. And since I couldn't stand continue working, I needed to build my retirement fund--ASAP. I felt that I couldn't afford getting less than what I was making.

I had my reasons for wanting to get more, too. Often, it was difficult to assess real value of my work –projects getting killed by executives with no apparent reasons, being told to do something without explanations, not getting any feedback on my work, etc. In that environment, salary was something that I used to measured my value in a corporate world while bonus quantified my performance. I wanted a higher score and assurance that I was doing something that was meaningful, at least to the company who paid me.

It's different now. The biggest difference is that I no longer feel that I need to build my retirement fund as soon as possible. In fact, I almost feel that I don't need a retirement fund at all; I might actually want to continue working until the day I die. How about that? Who would have thought that I'd feel this way?

Another change in my perspective is that I no longer feel that everything is at risk and I have be prepared for all conceivable emergencies. My health, which was horrible and expensive to maintain when I was working my corporate job, has been improving and I'm gaining back enough confidence to consider switching to a high deductible insurance and open an HSA account.

And of course, I no longer have that need to measure my value and performance by salary and bonus.

I had suspected that my medical expenses would be reduced if I stopped putting myself in such a stressful environment, but I had never imagined the total effect of choosing what I liked doing over steady paychecks to be so dramatic.

You never know until you actually experience it. You should give it a try.


  1. Hey Sawa,

    I stumbled upon your blog while trying to hunt for some sort of inner peace of mind in cyberspace for my unemployed state. I totally agree with your perspective on money. I just need to figure out how to get a foot into doing something that I would love!

    A little about myself - I'm in my late twenties, and am currently experiencing a delayed quarterlife crisis. Left a stable and successful career with the Govt at the start of 2009, and ended up not quite sure of what I wanted to do next.

    I've done what unemployed folks are suppose to do with all this new found free time - the travelling, the bumming, taking summer classes in completely new fields. Now it's down to the resume sending, which is astoundingly frustrating in this job market. Never knew that the process could be such a painful one, and it is very comforting to know that there are others out there who went through similar experiences and share somewhat similar feelings.

    While you have found an interest and am gaining headway in your translation work, I don't quite know how my perceived passion of working in the creative industry will bring me. It's slim pickins in the job market right now. At times, the lack of responses from all the resume sending gets me doubting myself, and wondering if I should just take the easy way out, throw in the towel and go back to my past job!

    Ah well, the pursuit of the ultimate dream - doing something that you love, while being able to live of it, is never easy... I'm glad you're almost there!

  2. Evelyn,

    I know how awful the job market is now, especially for those who want to switch a career. Don't get discouraged though. Think of all that extra time as a gift that you can use to learn more about the field that you want to get in, to make new network of people, etc. I promise that as long as you continue working on what you are passionate about (and you can change this if you find out that you don't really want to continue working on it -- see, that's one of the points; to know if that's really "it." But you can't be sure unless you stay there for a while).

    Good luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!