Making a career out of something you love doing may sound like a pipe dream — or, at the very least, the exception to the rule.
But whoever coined the phrase "do what you love and the money will follow" may have been on to something. Numerous studies have shown that happy people tend to earn higher salaries — and it stands to reason that these high-earners are happy — at least in part — because they have jobs they love.
There's never been a better time to start looking for your dream job, either. According to a recent report by the Indeed Hiring Lab, there are just 1.7 unemployed job seekers for every open position, which means that since there are more jobs, you can spend more time looking for the right opportunity, instead of taking a job you're not completely passionate about.
"[During] the recession ... many people, especially those in less skilled occupations, were not focused on finding the right job — they were thankful just to have a job," said Tara Sinclair, chief economist at Indeed. "Today, however, job seekers are now in the driver's seat to search for and find a job they love. [They] are more in control to ramp up their job search to find more opportunities ... that better align with their degree, personal goals and interests, or family needs."
In case you need more convincing, here are 12 great reasons to do what you love for a living.
You feel more fulfilled. "It's becoming increasingly important to love your job or industry. As the lines between working life and personal life blur, a job is as much about personal fulfillment and growth, as it is about a paycheck. People don't want to make widgets, they want to change lives, including their own." – Philip Ryan, director of E-Edge, Vivaldi Partners Group
You are more productive. "Studies have shown that employees who are engaged in their work have a higher productivity rate. Especially since employers are asking more of their employees than before, it helps to love what you do so that you can meet the challenges of the job." – Cheryl Palmer, career coach and professional résumé writer
You're more motivated. "A job that you love ... gives you extra motivation to meet your goals, and when you do, the sense of accomplishment is outstanding. As I see the Internet of Things continue to grow and gain acceptance across the world, it's that much more meaningful because I'm passionate about [technology] and my company has helped drive the momentum."– Masanari Arai, CEO, Kii
You become a source of motivation to others. "Someone who genuinely loves their job ... is unlikely [to] complain or begrudgingly complete tasks at the minimum level of effort. Instead he or she will be engaged in his or her work ... and interested in motivating co-workers in the [company's] mission and goals." – Mary Hladio, founder and president, Ember Carriers Leadership Group
Your family and peers look up to you. "As a mom who works, it is so important to me to be a role model for my young daughters. While there might be busy weeks that require more time at the office, my girls know that I love my job, that it's meaningful to me, and that I am proud of the work. It is my hope that as my girls grow up, they are inspired to find a careers that fulfill them and they are passionate about."– Keli Coughlin, executive director, The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund
Your mental health improves. "It is important to do something we love for a living because our work lives will then provide meaning and purpose, which are associated with psychological well-being and health." – Angelo Kinicki, organizational culture expert and professor, W. P. Carey School of Business (Arizona State University)
You want to keep learning and improving. "If you are passionate about your job, you are likely to take an active interest in learning every aspect of the business. This not only sets you on the path toward success, it also helps you get through the daily grind." – Patrice Rice, CEO and founder, Patrice & Associates
You're a more effective leader. "Without a deep-seeded conviction for the work you do, it is impossible to convince others to engage and follow your lead. When you love your work, people will take note. How you perform at work is contagious. Be joyful, work hard, build a team that communicates failure is never an option, and you will succeed."– Gary Chartrand, executive producer, "Messenger of the Truth" (2013)
You're excited to tackle new industry challenges. "I've always been fascinated by behavioral economics and the way individuals make decisions based on given conditions. My company is a business travel platform, but at a deeper level, it's also a behavioral economics platform. We're aligning incentives for companies and their employees. It's a fascinating challenge and one that makes me eager to get out of bed each morning." – Dan Ruch, founder and CEO of Rocketrip
Your work doesn't feel like a chore. "It's important to enjoy what you do. When you love your job, it doesn't feel like work. It makes it easier to get through the trials and tribulations of business ownership. – Michael Phillips, CEO of Coconut's Fish Cafe
You can serve others better. "Your passion translates into being the best in your field. In the service and selling industry the combination of passion and ambition results in superior customer service. That's when you know you can be a game changer." – Steve Gefter, managing director, IDDS Group
You push yourself to succeed even more. "When you love what you do, you are compelled to push against yourself. You want to be where you are challenging yourself, and you are competing with yourself in achieving your vision. I have been fortunate to find my passion in social media and technology at Zoomph, and we are meticulous on the culture and people we bring into our organization. We feel like we are more than a company — we are a movement, a force, a way of life and we are only achieving this because we love what we do." – Amir Zonozi, chief strategy officer, Zoomph
Originally published Sept. 27, 2012. Updated May 19, 2015. Additional reporting by Business News Daily senior writer Chad Brooks.