One major problem that we all come across sooner or later in our life is: How do I do meaningful work that fulfills me while ensuring I make enough money to live a prosperous life?
It sounds quixotic, and a majority of us are clueless about how to make it happen. We see people living their best lives earning huge amount of money doing the work they love, but we don’t know how to get there. Some of us keep trying and some of us get discouraged after a few failures and get back to living the same mediocre life.
Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Associates and bestselling author of Principles, knows that he can sound idealistic, yet he wants people to act upon his principle “make your passion and work the same thing”. He absolutely understands that one can’t always earn enough money doing something that they are passionate about to be able to pay for what they need. And he also knows that this could be dangerous advice for young people who are just starting out in their careers and are not thinking about the long game. He further explains that he’s a practical man and this advice is not at all theoretical, and shares a new principle to help his readers gain more clarity:
“To have both the money you need and the job you want, you have to be creative and flexible.”
Dalio elaborates, “It’s a simple fact of life that to have the best life possible you need both enough money to pay for what you need and wonderful work that fulfills you—and that to get these things, you need to give others what they need. That’s just the way reality works—i.e., you get paid for giving others what they want, which gives you the money to get what you want.”
He goes on to say, “How to do that well is one of the great puzzles you have to solve to have the life you want. Though difficult, being forced to solve this will both make you stronger and make you a greater contributor to society. It’s essential for the evolutionary process to work well.”
Dalio explains that the key lies in figuring out something that you’re passionate about that also pays well. We can’t be too narrow as we think about how to proceed in this regard; we have to be “clever” and be prepared to make some compromises. The more clever we are, the fewer compromises we’ll have to make.
It’s entirely possible to find a career for ourselves that provides both good job satisfaction and good money in order to have a good life, but we have to be clever enough to make the right moves so that it becomes a reality for us.
Dalio also gives an invaluable nugget of wisdom to help us secure the right balance between passion and money. He shares that like all other puzzles of life, in order to solve this puzzle, we must seek the best advice that we can get from the most believable people we can get to provide it, and through trial and error and tons of determination.
The bottom line is that if we truly want to live a good life where we get paid well pursuing the work that we love and are passionate about, then we have to be willing to make some compromises. We have to let go of rigidity and perfection as it’ll take us nowhere. We have to be open-minded and perseverant in our pursuit, until through trial and error we achieve a sweet spot — which is different for all of us — where both our soul and our bank account are happy and healthy.