Passion or Pragmatism: Choosing What Works for You

When it comes to your career, should you follow your heart, or just settle for any job? In these turbulent times, it can be a difficult decision to make.
The gradsingapore Team
Dawn Yip
Writer, gradsingapore
Passion or Pragmatism: Choosing What Works for You

Growing up, children were often encouraged by their parents and teachers that they could do anything if they set their minds to it. From being a world famous dancer or becoming a renowned baker, with hard work and passion, you can achieve your dreams if you put your mind to it.

Or so they say.

Whether you’re still working your way through university, freshly graduated with a degree in hand, or maneuvering your first job, you’ve probably realised by now that things aren’t quite as simple as they were as a kid. Setting aside the fact that you’re right in the midst of a global pandemic, there might be times where you wonder if what you’ve been working for up till now isn’t exactly what you want after all. Worse, you might be slowly sliding into a full-blown quarter-life crisis.

Having second thoughts

Well first, take a deep breath. It’s okay to be overwhelmed at times, and if you’re reconsidering your career path, you definitely aren’t alone. According to a survey by the CFA Institute, it was found that 45% of current university students and fresh graduates, in lieu of the current pandemic, were rethinking their career paths. Whether about choosing a job that makes them happy, or settling for a position for monetary reasons, many have to deal with the dilemma of choosing between passion and pragmatism. But just because others choose one particular path doesn’t necessarily mean that you should follow suit – rather, give it some considerable thought before proceeding with anything else.


The case for both sides

In truth, both pragmatism and passion do have their own merits, as well as demerits.

Regarding passion

Pick a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life. Yes, as much as there will never be such a thing as a perfect job, there’s no denying that the phrase still has some truth to it. By pursuing a job out of passion, you’re likely to feel motivated to get work done and keep going. And while the monetary rewards may be smaller, the positive, internal rewards will often make up for it. On the other hand, while it can be a well-worth endeavour, your efforts may not always bear fruit, especially if you come to find that the industry you’re pursuing isn’t doing as well as you hoped. Worse, the mounting stress and deadlines may cause you to turn against what you initially loved.

Regarding pragmatism

With that in mind, it may seem safer to take the road of pragmatism. After all, while money may not be able to buy happiness, it can certainly alleviate a lot of concerns. Indeed, this is a common path for many, who choose to put their passions on the backburner and settle for a stable job. The flipside here is that because you’re settling for what you can, it can be difficult to find enjoyment in a career that you don’t really have a vested interest in, which can lead to a lot of issues down the line, such as decreased work performance and increased pressure.


Balancing (and managing) both sides

So, should you try and settle for a promising career without much passion, or should you risk it for a job that you love and fulfils you? In truth, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer to this age-old dilemma, but it’s not an impossible question to answer if you study your options and your current situation. For example, if you need to prioritise your financial situation for any reason, or if the industry you want to enter isn’t doing well, it’s fine to put your passions on the backburner for the time being.


From passion to profit

Alternatively, if you’re capable of doing so, you can consider trying it out as a freelancing gig at your own time. If you’re looking to maximise income and enjoyment even in your free time, it could not only help further bolster your income, but it could also be a taster of how working in that industry could be like. But before you just dive into it, it’s worth noting that you should do some prior research on the current market environment, as well as what challenges you may need to prepare for over time. Alternatively, don’t feel pressured to invest in a side hustle if you need to focus on your priorities.


Whether it’s money and stability to happiness and fulfilment, be sure to look into all of the advantages and disadvantages of each path. Moreover, if you find yourself taking the pragmatic road, keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be permanent, and you’re free to switch gears whenever you feel more secure in doing so. And even then, a little digging and introspection can help you discover aspects of your current job situation that you find meaningful. Who knows, you might even find new passions within it, too.