Practicality and Possibility


“I’m saving up for when I have a low-paying job that I love.”

Just one of the many things people say when contemplating having work they are passionate about.  I have mixed feelings about this frame of mind.

On one hand, saving up to do what you love is a great thing – it’s a commitment to what you want!

On another hand, it implies (and assumes) that if you are to have work you love, you won’t have enough money.  I can’t get behind that – it is possible to have the work you want, which includes making a good wage!

I often find myself between these two places – practical and possible.  So how do we strike a balance?

One key is to define what is most important.

Yes, pay is important.  So is liking the tasks you do.  Commute can be important as well.  Benefits.  Title.  Values.  The list can go on.

 One way to sort out what is most important is to play a game with it:

  • write down all the things that define the work you want
  • pretend you are getting an offer that only meets some of them – see how you feel / what you think

For example, if what is important to me is: 

flexible schedule, under 30 minute commute by bus, benefits (medical, dental, vision), pay at a certain rate and inspiring content

What happens if I get an offer that….

  • pays less, but has a fantastic commute?
  • pays more, but has limited benefits?
  • is incredibly inspiring, but is not flexible in schedule?

Would I take it?

If pay comes up consistently as most important (to support family, fund travel or retirement, save up for a home, pay off debt), then you know more about what work you can get behind.

If inspiration comes up as most important (feeling purposeful, serving others, waking up each morning excited to go to work, having a creative outlet), then you know what logistical items you are willing to give up.

Does this mean you have to give up anything that is not your priority?  No!  You might just get more (especially since you know what “it” is).  There’s the balance between practical and possible.

Getting clear on what is most important helps structure what work we look for, helps prepare us for negotiations and lays important groundwork for decision making – what work we will do and for what reason.

It can also help you know whether you need to put money in the piggy bank!


Aubrie De Clerck,  PCC CPC

Aubrie is a Career Development and Transition Coach, with her own private practice in Portland. Her career history spans corporate, non-profit and self employment, giving her wide perspective on the world of work. Aubrie is known for being highly inspirational and deeply practical, helping people open doors to a lifetime of fulfilling work. Most of all, she is passionate about helping people of all ages and phases of life get the most out of their work life.

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