Happiness vs Money???

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-10-2003
Happiness vs Money???
Mon, 03-18-2013 - 8:53am

Hi team DSG,

This may sound like I'm babbling, but here goes.

At what point does being happy trump a big income? As you may remember I was recently promoted and am the youngest director at my company. Even though I was kind of doing the job before, I'm not sure that I was fully prepared for the pressure. The job pays incredibly well (I am making 6 figures with a potential 20% bonus - not bad for 31) but its killing me.

Last night I was in tears thinking about coming into the office today. I love the job about 20% of the time, but the hours and travel I have to work to do it are taking a toll on my health and wellbeing. I had a knot in my stomach all weekend and today it almost killed me to get in here.  Now I am 31 and the thought of doing this for 30 more years is overwhelming. I like interacting with and helping people and I don't get a lot of that now.

I know what I want to do. I've known for probably about 3 years now. I want to be a registered dietitian. I've never pursued it because 1) I am in a great job and am making well above the average (my father would lose his marbles if he thought that I was honestly considering this - this is the man that thinks money is the be all end all and when I told him I was appointed director, his comment was - "when are you going to be VP?") and 2) it would require going back to school.

Well last night after having my breakdown, BF challenged me. He knows I'm not happy. I helped my mom create her diet plan just through my own research and she has lost almost 100lbs and is off her diabetes medication. I helped my aunt and uncle and both of them were able to control their diabetes through diet. I love it. I'm just not sure what to do. I look back over the past 5 years at how I've been bouncing around trying this and trying that and never committing to anything (but work). Ultimately I think deep down I've known this isn't the right path but I am terrified of walking away from it.

I looked into it and I could take most of the courses through distance education. There are several that are also offered in-class at night. Ultimately I would be able to complete 12 of the 20 courses while working full time (assuming 2 per semester three semesters a year). It would take two years. I would then have to go back full time for a year and a half to complete the final courses and do the internship. This is where the idea scares the pants off me.

Part of me thinks its crazy ... investing time and money to come out with a degree that will have me earning $40K LESS than what I do now! But when I think about the benefits and how I could really help someone, I love the idea. When I think about the possibilities of creating a business and putting all my energies into something that is mine that I truly believe in, I love it.

IDK. I did the quick math on it, and it woudl cost me abotu $700 per course. If I did nothing else but stopped paying my cleaning lady, that would cover a good chunk of it.  I'm going to call the college today to see if there is any downside to doing it part time, and then call the university to see what they think.

This one would require a lot of thought . . .

Bex -


iVillage Member
Registered: 04-01-2013
Mon, 04-01-2013 - 7:03pm

I'm a business and personal adviser. I'm coming out of semi retirement to activate my services again. I've done over 500 consultations. And very intuitive about many situations facing what goes on with today's challenge. Please email me back on what your challenge is. It will be determined by your email. The choice and acceptance on how we can give you options toward your challenge. Note not all request all accepted. It depends on the nature of the challenges you face.  email at harmonyman777@yahoo.com   Blessings

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-31-2010
Mon, 03-25-2013 - 8:52pm
Every job has its good and bad times, and there were times in this job I thought I heard you say you liked. You are doing well and are pushing yourself pretty hard. My Dh was promoted last year, he and his team are pushing harder than ever, but he still stopped and asked each of them what they could implement in the next six months to have FUN. HE is the catalyst to bringing fun to the office, YOU too, at this position of leader do have the ability to increase not only production, but the level of enjoyment in the office, and on your team. And you don't have to do it, you can give some duties to your team. IF you get to higher levels of the company, you also have the ability to make changes that would be positive to all people under you. Startng again at the bottom, you may not have as much control. That said, I did do a career transition at 50 and LOVE IT! I had only a few months of making lower income, but now I am getting back to where I was, and because I am working for my own firm, I have a better tax situation The close connection I have directly with clients is really satisfying. As a dietician, not all your clients/patients will have the same results as your mother. You will be at the whim of healthcare coverages. You will have doctors or administrators over you. I am really of the feeling that you should really shadow someone and work on things part-time to see if you really like it before taking a jump. And why not treat this like a hobby? Take a class at a time and really enjoy it. Keep your current job, work hard, but use some free time to do this, and your spending money. THEN make your decision. That might also help you on the days you don't feel like going into the office, you know you won't have to forever and can divert your mind to a new passion to get you through the rough times. For years I explored finance, got my MBA and took classes and additional education as a hobby. So then when things changed at my office, I had debt paid way down and my DH was stable, I could make a pretty easy transition. It took almost a decade, but I learned new things about myself along the way that is helping me today. Enjoy the journey! -Marie NO job is perfect.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-08-2008
Sat, 03-23-2013 - 11:55pm
Thought I'd find this for you: http://www.theonion.com/articles/find-the-thing-youre-most-passionate-about-then-do,31742/ Dee
Avatar for poorboy2011
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-02-2011
Sat, 03-23-2013 - 2:07am

As a poor manager of money myself, I'd say money is to help you do and have what you want. If becoming a dietitician is a calling, then you know it, because callings are strong. The only things that get in your way are doubts from yourself, doubts from others, and the ideas from the social "norm." If the opposing voices are exactly these, then you know. If it's a calling, you will never be happy unless you pursue it. Everything else is just planning and luck.

I know this because I talk to a lot of students who are interested in creative writing, or in going to grad school, or in becoming an artist, or in changing field to do something completely different. I can tell the people who are merely thinking about it because "it sounds cool," and people who heard the call, and in their soul they already know. (Funny, no one ever comes to ask my advice about taking a highly lucrative job.)

I usually tell them that they need to make sure they can make a career out of it if they're going to invest a serious amount of money. They'll usually have to put up with not making a whole lot of money for the rest of their lives. At 18-21, it seems no big deal to make $30k until retirement, but I try to warn them that their lawyer and doctor friends will start showing up in nice cars, etc. Can they handle the social pressure to dedicate themselves to their art? Can they give up good things for their kids -- or even kids themselves -- for their art? Think of your calling the same way -- would you be willing to sacrifice for it? If so, what and how much are you willing to sacrifice.

But people change. I had the calling to become an academic and I plunged in. But now I'm a changed man. I could use a more normal life. I could use a better geographic area. I could use a work environment that doesn't violate workplace policy or the law as often. I'd like a family. Kids. Sending them to my alma mater if they're smart enough, if my imaginary DW and I can afford it (right now I'm imagining that my DW is a big lawyer making big money, and I'm obviouslty her trophy husband). I sacrificed all these things when I made the choice... But, Bex, you're 30, and I think you have a better idea of how you want to live for the next 30 years than I did at 18. And if you're wrong for the 5 after that until retirement, big deal.

Others have offered pretty good advice, too. Sure, see if you can live on a smaller income. See if you can come up with the money for school. But ultimately only you know how much this is worth to you. If it's a calling, do it. If not, hang on to your high-income job while you look for something you can imagine doing for the next 35 years.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-10-2003
Thu, 03-21-2013 - 9:17am

Thank you all for your comments/ feedback and suggestions!

You have no idea how much I appreciate hearing that I am not the only one going through this! I am still working through the process and as I mentioned have no intention of moving forward this year. The goal is to focus on the debt and consider it for next Fall. Even then it would be part time internet classes so I would still be working full time for another three years minimum which is enough time to pay off everything and save. But as I've learned, you never know . . . life could throw me a curve and I have to be ready for it (Maybe I'll be married by then and have another income to work with . . . HA!)

Again, thank you all so much!

Bex -

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-17-2010
Thu, 03-21-2013 - 7:07am

Pretty big career change from the sound of it, and RDs can make a comfortable salary.  I think $60k at most hospitals and clinics near where I am (SE-VA).  Running your own business with it will obviously get you less money.

If you can feeasibly use your current high paying job to get yourself out of debt and help pay for your classes next year, I don't see a reason to not do it.  You'll be at the beginning of your career all over again but if you have little to no debt and some savings to help float you, it's attainable.  You may need to work in other settings for a couple of years to make connections for referrals and what not, but you'll still be doing what you enjoy.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-08-2008
Wed, 03-20-2013 - 11:58pm
grrr...I tried editing that and it keeps losing the paragraphs :(
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-08-2008
Wed, 03-20-2013 - 11:57pm

I have a decent job in a very crappy environment making less than half what you do. And the city I live in is astronomically expensive. But I am happy. I get up at 6am, I take a jam packed bus 60 mins to a bustling downtown rat race. Then I commute in a sardine box (aka metro) to school. It is located on a hill so it is a 25 min hike uphill. Then I study. Go to class. Walk down the hill. Another box and then stand in the pouring rain waiting for the night bus. Get home at 10:15pm. Spend 1-1.5hrs studying or having my Dh tell me about my little ones. I do this 4 nights out of 5. Yet, I am happy. I am okay.

It is hard to be in school at my age. I love my life though. I never cared about money before I had children. We are nagged to put them in lessons (we don't). I get comments bc I cut their hair myself. My hair is a rat's nest (I'd be okay if the beehive came back in style). I am only in school for more money. I don't want my children to miss summer camp, hockey lessons, etc bc mommy didn't step up. I might not get that job and that money - but in end I will KNOW I tried. I will know that I did ALL I could. That you couldn't ask more of me. And that comforts me.

On top of my schedule, I still take care of my family. I precook healthful meals...I'm working on teaching DS1 subtraction & DS2 is learning to do a pushup...I am exercising and I am meditating. I have a full life.

My question to you is it worth it? Can you handle taking night classes and will it be worth it? Do you plan to have children someday...will the lower income be enough when they are there?

If so, why does this have to a big "all in" decision? Why not take some classes and start helping folks right away? There are plenty of people like your mother and aunt you could help? Could you volunteer? Just some thoughts as this seemed to touch a cord with me. I did what I supposedly "loved" for 10 yrs and I have absolutely nothing to show for it. The only reason we could afford a home in this city is bc I worked 2-3 jobs and I used vacations to do contract work. I'm getting old - and tired, LOL. Namaste, Dee

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-28-2009
Wed, 03-20-2013 - 9:36am

First, I just wanted to say that I think this is a very common struggle.....I know I think about it **every** day. I also know that my friends and I talk about it a lot.

I would echo what others have said. try living off the lesser income, see how that goes. Also, I would suggest maybe seeing if you could shadow someone that has your dream job. Maybe intern somewhere? Do you know what kind of environment you want to work in? I can see this job in a hospital setting and at a fitness center. Most likely two entirely different types of people, on different paths and find themselves with you for very different reasons - doctors orders vs. voluntary lifestyle change? I am just throwing things out there.......

I would also tell you what I tell my friends with any new job/position/adventure - give it at least 6 months to a year to settle in.

I think this is something you have to explore, if for nothing else, so you don't have any regrets.....

From a personal standpoint, I know I work in an (mentally) unhealthy environment and I do not want to be here longterm. I am working towards creating a situation for myself where in 3-5 years I will be able to do whatever I want. Somedays, I honestly don't know if I can wait that long. And then I focus and recharge and get back to my course........

Good luck, please keep us posted, I would love to hear what your plan is.


iVillage Member
Registered: 05-08-2006
Tue, 03-19-2013 - 6:47pm
Bex, it is certainly an option to give up a high paying career you do not like for a lower paying career you love. And in life, people often have multiple careers, some by their own choice and some because the world changes around them. One of the benefits of financial freedom is that you have many more options to make changes. The job you have now should get easier with time. Younhave been promoted quickly, based on yourability, but time will bring you something only time can bring...experience. I think you might want to evaluate if you are making your. Job harder than it needs to be. Are you delegating enough? Are you holding yourself to a higher standard than the job requires? I think women can tend to be perfectionists and. Burn themselves put. Realizing when 'good enough' is good enough is an important skill. Money is very important to me..I grew up with very little, and knowing that I am financially OK really matters to me. But I know many people are comfortable with less financial certainty. I do not always love my job, but I know the activities that I enjoy - teaching, helping others - and I seek out committees and projects where I get the chance to do that. Sometimes I have to do things I don't enjoy, but I look for opportunities where I can pass those tasks either to people who enjoy them or who can benefit by learning to do them. I think the idea that ifyou would earn $45k less, that you pretend you do and put all of that against debt, and then Into savings, is a good way to see how that would feel to you. It is lays good to keep questioning your choices and thinking about options. In the early part of my career, I often said 'I was once a waitress, and I could do that again'. Knowing that it was my choice to have the high stress, high pay job made some crazy days manageable.