If you are one of the increasing number of people who think about pursuing a career with real impact and benefit to society, beyond money and power – then you will also know that it’s not that easy. You might find you have very good reasons not to pursue a path of values in your work – time, age, money, and background. Or are they just excuses?
Based on hundreds of career profiles and interviews, we worked out the main reasons why people avoid the transition toward a more meaningful career. Here is one of five with reference to our book, The Future Makers.
Excuse 3: ‘I’m not financially secure
So you have a family you want to provide for. A mortgage. Your kids should have everything their peers have. You now love holidays in exotic places and restaurants are just so much easier than cooking.
Risking all that for a meaningful and uncertain career is a tough call.
But how much money do you actually need? And what for? When is enough truly enough?
The saying goes, ‘money can’t buy happiness’. You can work all day, to pay for the car you drive to work in, to pay for the apartment you don’t spend much time in as you are out at work. Make sure you differentiate between needs and compensation.
When you are happy in your work and it meets your values and passions, then it’s amazing how much less money you really need. Your contentment is made up of your achievements and goals at work, rather than the need to pay for a lifestyle and compensate for lack of sense.
As a social entrepreneur or employee, you might not have the salary you are used to – although increasingly there are opportunities where it´s possible. So where does that fit your values? Do you value living or do you value lifestyle?
Taking the risk
The barriers to financial freedom seem many. But many of us have the capacity to not only create our own financial freedom but also to enjoy the risk that comes with it.
Take Florian Kraemer. Growing up in Germany, he had an idyllic life. In 1994, he travelled to central Africa. The war he witnessed there not only changed his outlook on financial means, but on life. Infected with Dengue fever, Florian and his friend experienced first-hand the lack of financial infrastructure in a region that desperately needed medical care on a massive scale.
So he set out on his personal journey. One driven by determination over financial means. He returned to Africa with 50,000 Euros, thinking this would help the dire situation. But he soon learnt that good will and influence didn’t have much influence in Africa, so he had to look beyond the obvious – money – which is ever present in Europe as the main route to solutions and happiness.
Florian worked hard to build relationships and find projects where he could have an impact in Africa. The important point being, that is was the relationships that ultimately drove his success in eventually finding a day care centre, working with children with HIV and Aids. Donated money has helped in the path to making the centre a success, but that came much later. Money was part of the solution, but was far from the key driver.
So maybe you won’t be travelling to Africa to meet your values. But think about what you can do and what you really need day-to-day.
There are many opportunities for careers with purpose across all sectors – you can be employed full or part time with a social organisation, work in the sustainability department of a large company or become an entrepreneur yourself. If you have a family to support, think how you can split your time and have income security while maybe mixing multiple options.
If you want to take the risk to follow your passion or develop your impact idea, look at where you can draw support from family members and re-adjust your outgoings and expenses. It’s a long and often difficult journey where the risk is high, so see how you can set yourself up as well as possible to ride the wave. Living how you did before may not be an option. Ensure that your support network understands why you are choosing this path and what it means to you.
In some respects, money does make the world go around. But what makes the world thrive is people. Care, respect and strong relationships with a common cause go a long way. Then, the money will come. It always does.
Resources to help you
- For more inspiration and to read the stories of Mariana Galarza (Promoting health instead of curing illness), Njogu Kahare (Live your own values) and Karen Tse (The journey is the destination). You can purchase The Future Makers book in both English and German.
- Read part 1 ‘I don’t have the right professional background’, part 2 ‘I’m too young, or too old’ and look out for part 4 of our blog series: ‘I am already successful with what I’m doing’ next week.
- Sign up for our workshop ‘Career Confidence: Business Model You’ in Zurich on 29. November (Tomorrow – in German) to explore your values and skills and plan your meaningful career, or contact us for one to one consultation on how you can create a more meaningful career
- Visit the Impact Hub Network – a global network of collaborators focused on making a positive impact in the world.
- Read about Social Intraprenuership to learn more about how to create social value from inside your current or future organisation.