According to McArthur’s Rant, the formula for a successful career is:
What you are good at ∩ what you like doing ∩ what you can make money on
(Note: ∩ is the mathematical symbol the represents the intersection of two sets)
I like this formula for a couple of reasons. First, it suggests that you will be happiest in your career if you are using your natural skills; and second it acknowledges that feeling fairly rewarded for your work (i.e., making money) is a significant part of career satisfaction.
While we all know that money cannot buy us happiness, it’s a good idea to acknowledge that how we are paid does factor into our overall career satisfaction. There are a plethora of popular books advising would-be career changers to “do what you love” and “follow your passion.” But this advice typically works only if you already have your meal ticket secured (i.e., you have a trust fund, you have already built up enough investments to retire, or you have a spouse/partner who is willing to fund you passion for you). Without that meal ticket, most of us need to work to fund our lifestyle. Therefore, how we are paid is important.
While I like McArthur’s model for a successful career, I do take gentle exception to #6 on the list of secrets for happiness in the same posting. I don’t think happiness is a goal to pursue in our careers – it is an outcome that is the result ofdeveloping our natural talents and making a contribution.
Aristotle gave us a more productive model for considering how we build our careers:
“Where your talents and the needs of the world meet, therein lies your vocation.”