Let’s get one thing straight. I am obviously aware that there are majors, degrees, and other coveted grounds of academia that naturally yield a larger potential for post-grad employment and better pay. These are facts. There’s a difference and we’re all aware of it. But we are not all cut out for that kind of work, either by lack of ability, skill, or desire. So let’s look at the other facts, the facts that also tell us that things like interest affect job engagement and that intrinsic motivation yields advancement and monetary success. That effort, drive and unrelenting dedication to whatever it is you choose will give you the best results regardless. I’m not sure that the sage wisdom of “do what you love, and the money will follow” is always true, but here are some less-heard facts that may prove the road less valued is one worth taking.
1. Studies show us there is little correlation between salary earned and job satisfaction. Simply, money won’t buy happiness. More importantly? The message is that money is not the motivator in a happy workforce. “Money doesn’t buy engagement.”
2. And engagement is important. It is largely the result and by-product of intrinsic motivation, and that is key to seeing anything through. This study found that to be engaged in one’s work, one must be committed to something they find meaningful, be able to find the best way to fulfill that sense of purpose, and perform their tasks competently, all of which surround the simple idea that you need to at least be interested in what you’re doing.
3. But should we all follow our passions? Studies also show us that doing so can be a recipe for professional disaster, simply for the fact that many passions aren’t transferrable to skills that can be marketed. Let’s clarify: you can pursue something you love without having it be your sole passion. You can foster an interest and see it grow into something more. Besides, Harvard research shows us that people who achieve small, daily goals in the direction they want to go are happier and more fulfilled overall.
4. Because countless studies have proven that happiness affects overall health, many stating that finding meaning in daily work was one of the most important factors to overall contentment and satisfaction.
5. Because your college major may not actually matter that much in the end anyway. Only 27% of college grads have jobs within their majors, and more importantly, almost half end up in jobs that don’t require a degree anyway.
6. Because when there is more of a desire to perform, money indeed will follow. Based on the research Leonard Schlesinger, Charles Kiefer, and Paul Brown did for their book, “Just Start: Take Action, Embrace Uncertainty, Create the Future,” doing something you love is crucial to doing your best at it, and it raises your chances of succeeding both financially and otherwise. “That desire will make you more creative and more resourceful, and help you get further faster.”
7. You will graduate with a higher GPA if you are engaged with what you are learning, and higher GPAs can translate to certain job opportunities and graduate school admission. Not to mention, there is a fairly strong correlation between class rank and career earnings.
8. Because regardless of academic background, there are a certain set of skills employers find universally desirable, and there seems to be a disconnect between what students believe employers want and what they actually seek. Strengths in skills such as communication and critical thinking give a huge leg up in being hired.
9. Census Bureau studies show that liberal arts majors end up with an average salary that exceeds the median of the entire U.S., and as a Cornell survey showed, they are more satisfied than their classmates in other disciplines.
10. Because there is one thing a statistic can’t tell you, and that’s how you’re going to feel coming home at the end of the day, satisfied or not. This Time piece addresses the reason the author let his daughter pursue what statistics would deem a “useless degree,” and it was because if any person has the chance to study something that brings them fulfillment just from the act of doing so, they should. Doing so is a privilege, one that should be taken advantage of if and when the opportunity rises.