Time vs. Money

Financial Times columnist Douglas Coupland is sometimes asked for career advice along the lines of whether or not someone should take a practical job that pays well over doing something that is enjoyable, yet maybe not so practical. Coupland went to art school and perhaps is best known for writing Generation X and popularizing the term in the early ’90s when Gex X was getting as much grief as the millennial generation does today. His advice? You have a limited amount of time, so spend it well. Your twenties is the best time to try out a bunch of different things and figure out what you want to do:

First, my advice regarding being practical? Do what you like doing. If you’re successful at a job you don’t care about or don’t like, or if you make money from a job you don’t care about, it won’t mean anything to you – in fact, you’ll be contemptuous of your “success”. But at that point you’re old and it’s too late to relive your life . . . so you become bitter. Ask anyone over 50 which is more important, “time or money”, and they’ll always tell you, “time”. While you can sometimes make more money, you can’t make more time. It’s gone.

The thing about doing what you like doing is that many people don’t actually know what they like doing. This may well be nature’s way of ensuring there will be people to work at the DVLA in Swansea but, while you’re still young, try as many things as you can and figure out what it is you like the most. That’s very practical advice.

And of course, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. You can do something practical that you enjoy doing, and you can also do something practical that you don’t really enjoy doing, but find things that you do enjoy doing outside of work, because, hey, life is not all about what you do at work.

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