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Choosing a Major: Do it for Love or Money?

written by: •edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 6/3/2014

“Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life." It's an old proverb, but is it really true? Finding balance is the key to choosing the right major for your career path.

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    Choosing a Major for Love or Money Certainly, going to a job you enjoy is much better than going to one you hate. In a perfect world, every one of the 40, 50 or 100 hours a week you spend at your job would be like a day at the circus: all clowns and cotton candy. In the real world, the perfect situation rarely exists.

    Everything in life is a balance. Does your job demand more from you than it gives back? Are you willing to sacrifice your time, passion and effort for the resulting pay and benefits? Is your profession helping you enjoy your life or is it keeping you from doing that?

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    Money versus Love

    It’s early in your college career. You are thinking of a path of study that will give you a career when you graduate. You know what interests and excites you. You know your strengths and weaknesses. You know what you love and what you despise.

    Are you driven to be rich? Do you desire to live in luxurious homes, drive exotic cars and take lavish vacations? You can do it, but you have to learn how and you will make sacrifices.

    Are you an artist and a dreamer? Do you feel sorry for those who dedicate their lives to chasing dollars? Do you wish to inspire the world, make it more beautiful and change how people think? You can do it, but don't forget that you still need to eat.

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    You Can't Buy Time

    I prefer to look at work as what you do to finance your life outside of work. Hopefully you will find a job you enjoy, but work is work and you would usually rather not be doing it.

    Most people make it through the workday by focusing on the weekend, a vacation or retirement. The goal of a career is to one day quit and have enough money to do what you want. The purpose of your job is to fund your days off.

    The person with three jobs struggling to support the family never has enough time. Then again, I don't think the richest people in the world have enough time either. If they wanted to buy more, they couldn't afford it. A person who spends a dozen hours every day stressing over investments, juggling businesses and handling a fortune is not really free. I would rather work 40 hours a week –or fewer—and drive my used car to my ordinary home so I can enjoy my spare time.

    Life is a finite amount of time. Choose now how you hope to spend it. Will you work furiously to build a fortune and retire early? You may be miserable at 25 but ecstatic at 40. Will you aim to enjoy every day at work and have plenty of free time when you are young even if it prohibits a golden age of leisure?

    Now is the time to make your choice.

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    Getting Rich

    You must understand money: how it works, how it grows and how it disappears. Know that it takes time to grow and getting an early start is the shortest route to fortune. Adopt the habits of a wealthy person. Look to major achievers, such as Warren Buffett, Carlos Slim Helu or Oprah Winfrey. Follow their personal rules for business. Find successful mentors and see how they have done it. It is not so much about being a genius or inventing something amazing. It is about believe in yourself and staying on target.

    However, this is about choosing majors. Remember what is hot today may be cold in a decade and you will still be un-retired. Identify a field that will be around for a while so you don't become a fad.

    Biomedical and pharmaceutical are powerful career paths. Medicine will always be a strong employer. People may no longer need cathode ray tube repair but they will never stop needing healthcare. Be part of the cutting edge of the medical field and you will always have a top-dollar job.

    Computer science and information technology are necessary to success in the modern world. Become an expert in this and you will always be in demand. The integration of technology into our lives will never stop expanding.

    Of course, to earn money, learn money. Finance and business education will put you in the river of cash flow and teach you what to do with it when you get it.

    Don't forget construction and civil engineering. As much as the world relies on nanotechnology and semiconductors, it still needs buildings and roads. You can get your hands dirty with the grunt-work of building without education, but to be the person with the hard-hat and the briefcase with the big salary, you need a degree. The Dallas Cowboys' stadium cost $1.3 billion to build. How would you like to be foreman of that job?

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    Being in Love with your Job

    Are you an artist? Do you want to learn things that the big world will not pay for but you don't care? Writing, painting, sculpture, dance or music? Please, be yourself and dream, but don't believe every artist must be a starving artist.

    Struggle makes good art. Sometimes this is true. The stress of tough times, poverty, poor living conditions and bad company can produce some brilliant material.

    Do you know what else makes good art? Good paint and brushes. Well-fed performers. Writers with office space and desks. Not having to go to some job you hate.

    You can sell your art. You can make a living doing what you love. Just spend a portion of your college time learning the business world. One day you will be a small business selling yourself.

    Learn marketing because your work will not matter if it doesn't get in front of the consumer. Learn eBook formatting because not all books are made from paper anymore. Learn modern methods of drawing, drafting and picture manipulation so you can digitize your craft. Learn how to build and manage a small business. Learn how to grow wealth and invest profits just in case you actually earn some money.

    I used to believe the forces of business would corrupt me as an artist. That is poisonous thinking. The truth is knowledge of the financial world will set you free. The best way not to worry about money is to have some. If you never think about money, it will come think about you.

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    The Choice is Yours

    For love or money? Compromise. Never go too far in either direction. Choose your path and stay on it.

    Want to be filthy rich? Go for it, but don't forget a harbor full of yachts is useless if you never take time to sail.

    Want to make beauty? Do it. The world needs more of it. Just don't forget you are your own business. Build that, and then you will never work again.