Let's face it: Most people spend way too much
money on things they don't really need. The
more money we make, the more we tend to spend.
This endless cycle of materialism has led many
people to confuse the word "need"
with the word "want." As in, "we
need a big-screen TV for our new home theater."
Or, "I need a new pair of shoes to go with
my new outfit."
If you want to achieve your vocational passion,
where every day you jump out of bed and can't
wait to go to work, then you need to re-order
The pursuit of material success often is the
root cause of burnout at midlife. In fact, a
recent study at the University of California
at Berkeley found that people primarily motivated
by the love of their work grow dissatisfied
as they begin to make more money.
The first step to breaking free from the materialism
trap is to understand the difference between
"need" and "want."
We need food, clothing, shelter, reliable
transportation, education, enrichment, and the
technology necessary to do our work. Also, we
need the occasional small indulgence to treat
our children and ourselves.
We do not need 500 cable TV channels, brand
new luxury cars, 5,000-square-foot homes in
exclusive neighborhoods, lavish ski vacations,
and smart phones that do everything but think
There is nothing wrong with wanting these things.
But understand that these things do not make
us happy. And, they are often links in the chains
that bind us to jobs we despise.
Often, those who make a leap to vocational
passion end up making more money over the long
term. But in the short term, income usually
declines. It may even go away for a period of
time. Typically, the first two years of a career
change - in particular, one motivated purely
by vocational passion - are financially difficult.
Major lifestyle and attitude adjustments are
critical to making the money last while you
pursue your dream.
The amazing thing is that once you learn to
live on less, it becomes a habit. The peace
of mind that comes from relying less on materialism
to define success usually leads to a greater
and deeper happiness.
Evaluate all Your Expenses
So. Now we understand that pursuing vocational
passion requires a major adjustment in our attitude
toward money and material comfort. The next
step is getting down to the details.
What does it take to transform yourself and
your family from a unit that consumes as much
as it earns to one that respects money and makes
The trick is to look at all expenses, both
big and small. Leave no stone unturned. No savings
is too small, and no category of spending should
be free from scrutiny.
Those looking to leave a job to pursue a vocational
passion face two core issues: raising enough
money to fund a career change, and changing
spending patterns to make the money last. Raising
the money can be a tremendous challenge, depending
on your financial resources. Savings, bonds,
securities, IRAs, RRSP's, home equity, jewelry,
valuables, and family resources are all avenues
for raising capital to sustain your family during
Consider these options to cut down your burn
rate. Some will seem dramatic. But if you are
committed to pursuing a vocational dream, small
measures won't cut it.
Take a look at what's in your grocery cart.
How much of it is snack food or impulse buys
that are both bad for you and a waste of money?
If you still need a reason to quit smoking,
the $5-plus per pack you are spending ought
to finally get you to give up that habit.
Is your home well insulated, or does money
in the form of energy fly out the window? Do
you turn out the lights when you leave a room?
How much do you waste each year on late fees
for credit cards or overdue videos? How necessary
is each short trip you take in the car? Can
you combine trips, or make small, local errands
on foot or on your bike, (which saves money
and burns calories)?
Make the effort to evaluate everything you do.
You'll be amazed by the amount of money you
Craig Nathanson, The Vocational
Coach, is the author of "P Is For Perfect:
Your Perfect Vocational Day," by Book Coach
Press. He publishes the free monthly e-zine,
"Vocational Passion in Mid-life."
Craig believes the world works a little better
when we do the work we love. He helps those
in mid-life carry this out. Visit his online
community at http://www.thevocationalcoach.com
where you can sign up for his next Tele-class.