If you are like most people, it is probably a combination of both, although the lucky among us would never describe their job as necessary evil even though it may be necessary for them to work to pay bills.
It turns out that it does not really matter that much what you do and how much you make when it comes to job satisfaction. Your job may feel mostly as an evil thing that you simply have to put up with even if you make a lot of money.
Quite a few high-paid lawyers and bankers, and even doctors, hate their job. Many people who used to make a lot of money decide at some point to abandon a lucrative career in law, banking, or medicine, buy a wood workshop, or a small winery or antique store, or a farm and start raising llamas or alpacas in order to do something that makes them happy. Every now and then a story about somebody who did just that pops up in a newspaper.
Doing something that makes you happy is even more important than doing something that make you rich. I would not mind being rich, except if it meant being for example a private equity manager on Wall Street, because I think that this is a completely useless and unproductive job. Of course, private equity managers would strongly disagree with me by pointing out that Wall Street wizards are in charge of efficient financing decisions which are extremely important for smooth functioning of economy.
But if that is true, how is it possible that bankers keep making more and more obscene salaries, while the economy is not exactly functioning smoothly? And how is the job of a Wall Street trader different for example from that of a bookie who takes bets on dog races?
Would somebody care to explain the difference to me?
Another completely useless kind of job that I can think of would be a career in “creative advertising and marketing”. The last thing that we need around us is more advertising. Remember the moment when Dustin Hoffman in the role of a successful marketing executive in “Kramer vs. Kramer” suddenly realized that his job was about producing crap exactly at the point in his life when his wife filed divorce and sole custody of their son?
I realized that for some reason the one thing that I really enjoyed the most was learning languages and putting the newly acquired knowledge to use when I was about 17. I remember that I was sitting in a cherry tree with a friend and as we were eating cherries and spitting out cherry stones into the grass below us while discussing our plans for future, I told him that my grand plan for the rest of my life was to learn a bunch of languages, the more the better, and then travel around the world while using those languages to make a living.
At that point, I had no plan B because at that age I did not believe in the importance of a plan B.
Well, I did exactly that and I feel sorry for kids who are now graduating from college without a pretty crazy plan for the rest of their life. Most kids these days can’t afford dreams like that because most of them will paying off student loans for decades. I got to experiment with my life, moving from one country to another, and I did not became a wage slave until my mid thirties when my own children were born. But young people today are burdened with debts and turned into slaves right after they graduate from college. They become part of the slave class whose main purpose in life is to generate more profit for Wall Street even before their own life has really begun.
A society that sacrifices its young on the altar of higher and higher profits is doomed. At some point, there will be a rebellion of the young who will refuse to pay debts that they consider unjust, because they clearly are unjust.
After quite a few decades, it is still my mission to keep learning languages, although I am now concentrating only on languages that I already know quite well, and using them to make a living because even after quite a few decades, it is still the one thing that I enjoy the most.
There are many challenges in the life of a freelance translator, but as long as one refuses to be just an entry among thousands of other almost identical entries in the database of a “translation industry” broker, a database in which translators are arranged mostly by the rates that they charge, an independent translator can have about as much freedom and as much fun as an owner of an antique or junk store, or an owner of a farm where bizarre but lovely animals like alpacas are being raised for wool.
And you don’t even have to go through the burnout phase first before finding your true vocation, which is something that could happen to you if you were a marketing executive, or lawyer, or accountant.