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Do what you love – and the money will follow

Breakthrough Blueprint

The how-to guide to your career success

Do what you love – and the money will follow

Do what you love – and the money will follow. It’s a mantra that I’ve stuck to when making almost all of my career decisions.

I don’t even remember when it became embedded in my psyche but I feel like it’s almost part of my DNA. And it’s a philosophy I’ve staunchly clung on to despite being told the opposite when I was an impressionable 16 year old trying to make my first set of career choices. Someone I respected told me: “You will always end up hating your job. After all, it’s a JOB. So you should at least pick a career that pays well.”

Deep in my bones I refused to believe this was true.

Having said that, your childhood mentors can have a huge impact on your life – and your life choices. So I initially picked a career where I could see dollar signs. Literally. I became an accountant. I did this even though I knew that it wasn’t my passion. But I could tell there was a great career path laid out in front of me – and I would never be poor if I followed it. In fact, judging by the people in the positions above me, I could do very well indeed.

However, it was the wrong career for me. And I soon realised that I had to go back to the mantra that was whispering softly in my soul: do what you love – and the money will follow.

I took the plunge, transitioned careers, moved into the glossy world of magazines – and pinch myself that I was being paid to do something that I seriously would have done for free. (There is a longer version of this story … but that’s for another day!)

When this happened, my salary plummeted. After all, I was starting from the bottom of the career ladder again. But I kept having faith in my mantra. And it didn’t fail me.

Within six months, I was promoted into another role, an international role in publishing. And my salary was greater than what it was when I was in a global chartered accounting firm.

There was a short time financial sacrifice for a long term gain.

If you’re considering a career transition:

* Focus on the opportunities, not the sacrifices
Often, we’re too afraid to take the leap because we can’t bring ourselves to accept employment conditions that are different – or supposedly “lower” – than what we were getting before. But this is short sighted. Think of what you are gaining if you do make a change – possibly a job you love and incredible new opportunities .

* You are not actually starting at the bottom
Just because it seems like you’re starting again, you’re actually not. You’re bringing a wealth of other experience to your role. Make sure you contribute above and beyond what people expect, put your hand up for everything and become a sponge. Your bosses will notice. And you’ll end up on a faster track because of it.

* Take a stepped approach
You don’t throw in your job one day and reinvent yourself overnight into your new chosen career. It can be a slow transition but it can happen if you’re proactive about it. Between being an accountant and then becoming a journalist and author I had a “bridging career” as a public relations consultant. It enabled me to have one foot in the corporate world which I had become used to and one foot in the media world I was about to enter. Do you research and make a career transition plan.

Ultimately, you may already be in a career that you love. If that’s the case, awesome. But if you’re wondering whether your current career is really where your heart lies, you know what I’m going to say to do: Do what you love – and the money will follow.

Valerie Khoo

Valerie Khoo is CEO of the Australian Writers’ Centre, one of the world’s leading centres for writing courses. She contributed to Fairfax for 13 years and has held senior editorial roles at ACP (now Bauer), Pacific Magazines and EMAP. She was editor of Business Chick’s Latte magazine for five years and regularly writes for corporate and consumer titles. Valerie began her career in chartered accounting at PwC before moving into public relations, journalism and then entrepreneurship. She is co-host of the podcast “So you want to be a writer”, recently listed as one of the top 30 podcasts for writers in the world, and “So you want to be a photographer”. Valerie is also a mentor with the Australian Businesswomen’s Network.