Will I Make Less Money in a New Career?

One of the career change fears I hear the most: the money. People are (understandably) worried about giving up security, stability, and the lifestyle that they're used to. Even if your golden handcuffs are more like gold-plated than solid gold, moving on from a sure thing can feel scary. Here are some things you might not know about career change and money.


Making Less Money at the Beginning of a New Career

Let’s talk about making enough in the beginning. Yeah, there’s a good chance that will happen. When you’re start a new career, going into a career change, a lot of times you’re starting over to a certain degree, so you have to start at the bottom and work your way up.

That’s okay. It’s a circumstance for you to handle. You can make a plan financially for how you’re going to deal with that. It’s certainly something that you have to be mindful about and you may have to do some planning around, but you can absolutely do that. This is not beyond you. Totally, you’re capable of that.


Will You Ever Have Enough Money Again?

Let’s move onto the bigger part about the idea of the uncertainty of ever having enough money again. Here’s the big red flag. Any time you’re speaking in absolutes – “What if I never, ever…” or “always” – that’s a little sign that you’re doing some catastrophic thinking. There are very few things in life that “always” and “never, ever” apply. If you’re thinking about your career in those terms, we’ve gone from being practical to being destructive. That’s no good.


Know Your Needs

The next thing I want to talk about is this idea of having enough money. Do you know how much enough is for you? I don’t mean, “Oh, it feels good,” or, “It feels bad,” or, “I don’t feel like I have enough,” but have you looked at the numbers (your monthly expenses, your yearly expenses) so that you actually know how much enough is?

Anytime you’re making a decision about your career, you have to base it on evidence and real numbers. You can’t base it on hypotheticals. Look at the numbers and figure out how much enough is for you.


Start With Value, Not Love

What I think implied in your question is: “If I’m doing something I love, can I ever make enough money at it?” Here’s where, for me, there’s a real important distinction between just doing something you love and doing something that’s coming from a place of purpose.

There are some careers that are just plain difficult to make a living at. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but it means that it’s going to be more challenging. Oftentimes, those careers are passion-driven because you’re coming from a place of, “I love this. I want to do it. How can I turn it into money?” rather than a place of value, which is, “People need this. I’m good at this. I enjoy this. How can we make an exchange?”

I would look at whatever you’re thinking about doing and ask, “Is this passion-drive or is this purpose-driven?” Hint: purpose-driven careers are generally a lot easier to make money at than passion-driven careers.


You Might Make MORE Money Doing Work You Care About

Here’s something that maybe you haven’t thought of. Has it ever occurred to you that you might actually make more money doing work that’s meaningful? That’s totally possible. No one ever writes in and asks, “Laura, What am I going to do with all the money I make once I’m doing meaningful work?” Everyone is concerned about making less money. Just entertain the possibility that you might make more money doing meaningful work.


The More Money Challenge

I have a challenge for you and for anyone who’s afraid that they can’t make enough money doing work that matters to them. I want you to go out and find three examples of real people – I’m not talking about celebrities or people who have so much money that they just don’t even calculate in our heads as real people, but just down-to-earth, everyday people – who are doing something that they love and that matters to them and are making more money than you are at your regular job. That’s my challenge to you.

In the comments below, let me know if you have any examples.