Choosing Between “What You Do Best” vs. “What You Like Best”

Occupation, profession or what we call nowadays “a job”, is one of the most important things in a person’s life.

When people started settling in cities and villages, a person’s job defined his status in the society. Surnames like Miller, Smith and Schneider were derived from occupations i.e. Miller (people who worked in mills), Smith (iron workers) and Schneider (dressmaker or tailor). Even today, the influence of job in our life sustains its behemoth significance.

In the professional world there might be some people who are good at their jobs and are fully satisfied with what they do. However, most job holders these days are discontent with some elements of their job.

Proficiency vs. Passion

Here’s an example: a friend of mine suffers from a unique case of job discontentment.

Although she is quite proficient in her work as an iOS developer and is being handsomely remunerated for it, her heart is stuck in pursuing a career in art and graphic design. If she were to leave that well-established career, many would deem her action as utter foolishness.

Still there are some who might tell her to “follow her heart“. Hence this article is a kind of “thinking out loud’ post for those who find themselves in the dilemma of choosing a job they are good at versus a job that they actually want to do.

Going with a Job You Are Good At

1. Skill Level

Pros – Being good at a job is synonymous with having a higher skill level in it.

Being the master of the art makes you an important part of the whole mechanics of your organization. Based on your skills, you are able to take up new challenges, work out solutions, and produce profitable results, all of which make your superiors nothing but happy.

Cons – From hardcore skills like engineering and designing to more embedded skills like business development and public relations, every craft has a saturation point.

No matter how proficient you are at doing something, there comes a time when you simply grow out of it. After reaching this level, you just keep reproducing work on already existing skill templates with very little room for learning anything further.

2. Financial Gains

Pros – Who doesn’t like money? When you are good at something and find the right place to put it to use, money comes running after you like crazy.

The story becomes especially interesting when you get paid for something you could easily do in your sleep, i.e., based on your skills you do not have to work too hard to reach your goal.

financial gainsfinancial gains

Cons – In almost every career there is a limit on the amount of income you can earn on each level. There are certain careers in which, no matter how high your expertise is, there is not much chance of increased financial gains once you reach the maximum income threshold.

Of course, you can take up after-office freelance work, but it will only leave you exhausted. Moreover, no matter how good you are in your body of work, being paid well for it depends a lot on your luck, apart from your talents. For everyone who is making a good living doing something they are good at, there are countless other equally talented people who are not able to do so just because they didn’t get a good chance to.

3. Career Longevity

Pros – Being adept in a specific field can certainly vouch for the longevity of your career in it.

The better you are in a certain job, the longer you will stay in it, and the longer you stay in a certain career, the greater will your credibility and reputation be. Furthermore, if you are good in your job and you make your superiors realize it, your vulnerability towards a layoff consequently decreases.

Cons – When you are proficient in a job, you tend to stay in it for a long time.

But career longevity can sometimes cause monotony and boredom, especially when it spreads over decades in a row. After all, the days of retiring from a company that you joined fresh out of college are long gone.

Going with a Job You Want to Do

1. Professional Gratification

Pros – There is no match for professional gratification, and what better way to achieve it than doing what you really want to do. Your interest in a job directly spells your devotion and dedication towards it.

professional gratificationprofessional gratification

Even if you have to compromise a bit over certain other factors, the mere feeling of satisfaction makes up for most of the missing elements. However, in a scenario when you are not able to do the job of your passion, you may keep coming to the office each day, but gradually your energy keeps dropping and your frustration level keeps on rising.

Cons – Professional gratification is a key factor in the success of your career; however, when you are responsible for the upbringing of your family or any other obligations, then moving to a whole new career just because you seek self-contentment could leave you nothing but heartbroken as well as financially broke.

Another downside can be that sometimes being too passionate about work can negatively impact your work-life balance, affecting your health, personal life, and family.

2. Refreshing New Start

Pros – Regardless of how excelled you have become in your job, when you go for the career of your dreams, the new start be like a fresh breeze in your professional life. The new start can revitalize your enthusiasm and can give you fresh-out-of-college energy towards work.

Cons – A job is no joke. Right from the beginning of your life in the professional field, one focuses all his or her energy on getting settled in the field and getting to the top of their game.

If the new start pushes you from the corner office, which you have earned with your dedication and hard work, to a newbie’s cubicle, then the decision of pursuing a new career should be properly calculated before you take the next step.

3. Increased Motivation

Pros – Working in your favorite field makes you more motivated towards your job.

No matter how late you start in a field, the sheer joy of handling certain tasks and the desire to complete tasks with passion, quickly takes you to the next level. This factor plays a key role in getting you to the top of the ladder in a job that you are fond of and consequently shows more motivation in it.


Cons – To get motivated is easy, but staying motivated is where the problem starts. One can easily say catchy phrases like, “fulfil your dreams” and “be your own master”, but to actually commit yourself to doing something every day might be more arduous than you think.

When you take what you love to do and make it into something you depend upon for survival for yourself and your family, the motivation can disappear quickly. Not to forget, turning your passion into a profession means you have clients, bosses, deadlines, and obligations, which automatically takes all the fun out of it.


Some people have a lifelong dream of doing something or having a certain career. However, the unforgiving waves of circumstances can make you make decisions that you might not deem as the right one.

So, is it alright to continue down the path life has taken you, especially when you have so well-established yourself in it, or should you go back and try to have a second go at your childhood dreams? The answer to this question highly depends on your own priorities.

My iOS developer friend has decided to continue her career in development while developing her graphic design interest by learning front-end interface design for iOS apps. The idea is to facilitate a smooth transition into a new career. Maybe, with a little strategy and calculation (and of course, some luck), you too can manage to achieve a bit of both, instead of all of each.

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