Music Mondays – Follow Your Arrow

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Follow Your Arrow

This Friday on my podcast, I got the opportunity to sit down and chat with my friend Mel from Broke Girl Rich. For those of you who don’t know Mel’s story, she has had quite the eclectic career path that began with a job as a stage manager on the Holland America Cruise Line, where she ended up working for over five years. I find her story fascinating, and to her, it’s just her story; however, I am fascinated because she started following her arrow from a young age, which is something I wish I did.

Looking back on my career, I feel like I had a boring start to it. When people ask me why I became a business major in college, the truth is that my older brother was a business major; and he assured me it was the best career path to making money. From the age of 14 when I started working in a bagel store, I was fixated on making money. I never even contemplated a major like English or Theatre Production because I knew that they were not associated with money like a business major was.

Fortunately for me, I loved the classes in my business school, and I graduated in 2000 during a peak in the job market for jobs in financial services, so I was on the fast track to making money right after graduation. For years, I worked in various areas of investment banking and each year I made more money than the previous year. My arrow was solely pointed to money for most of my teens and twenties. My famous quote that I shared with people is “I’m not saving lives, I’m just making money.”

My Arrow Changed Directions

After I turned 30, though, and started reflecting more on the footprint I wished to leave behind, I realized that money wasn’t everything, and I needed something more rewarding from my career. After four years of searching, I found it in my current job of working as a financial planner helping predominantly young professionals make smarter money choices.

My job now has brought me into contact with people of all different backgrounds and job types, and I have to say that I am a little envious of those, like Mel, who chose a career path based on passion more than on money. They may not always have the easiest financial choices to make, but at least they fuel their souls while they are working rather than fueling just their bank accounts.

The courage of their choices inspires me and reminds me of the song, Follow Your Arrow by Kacey Musgraves, and my favorite line from the song is “follow your arrow wherever it points.” There are plenty of opinions out there about what you should do with your life and how you should live it, but we have to follow the trajectory that is most true for us, no matter where that leads.

I Love When My Clients Follow Their Arrows

Many times throughout the course of working with clients, I often end up counseling them on their career choices, and I don’t care how much my clients make, I care that they find a career that inspires and motivates them. It’s not always easy to find something like this, especially something like this that also pays the bills, but if you have the inspiration from your day job, it’s amazing what you can accomplish monetarily. I help clients build wealth no matter how much they make in their day job, and the clients who experience the most success are usually the ones who are following their arrows where their careers are concerned.

Mel’s parents were not thrilled that she chose the theater route over the teaching route, but thankfully after a steady career in a profession she loves, they have stopped asking her if she plans to do something else with her life. The path hasn’t always been easy for her and she is currently in between jobs and debating collecting unemployment, but she has chosen to follow her arrow and it makes the tough money decisions easy because when she does work, she loves what she does.

I encourage you to not be afraid to follow your arrow no matter where it takes you. If a career is calling to you or a change is weighing on your heart, there is a reason for it. When I stopped following money and followed my passion, I had tougher money choices, but found greater joy; and that joy has far surpassed the value of the dollars that I used to earn.

Are you following your arrow to a career you love or just making money? Do you find it easy to follow your own arrow or do you feel like you have to do what other’s expect you to do?

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Shannon is a financial planner who left a “traditional” financial services firm to start her own company, The Financial Gym, because she felt traditional financial services firms did not have the tools or resources to help people in their 20s and 30s who are starting out and trying to build assets while also managing debt. She realized that the key to long-term personal financial success is a commitment to financial fitness and making smart financial choices. Through her blog, Financially Blonde, her book, Train Your Way To Financial Fitness, her podcast, Martinis and Your Money and The Financial Gym, Shannon is committed to making financial fitness fun, easy and accessible for everyone.

31 COMMENTS

  1. Love Kacey Musgraves! Mel’s definitely got an impressive story and has proven herself in a very difficult and competitive field. I spent most of my career as a concert promoter, but recently transitioned into a more sustainable career path – digital marketing. Working in entertainment is a lifestyle, and I realized after five years on the road that producing concerts was no longer for me. Interestingly, my new job offers so many more opportunities to be creative. I’ve never been motivated by money, though.

    • I love Kacey Musgraves too and this is one of my favorite songs! As you know, entertainment is not easy, but I love that you have found another outlet for your creativity that doesn’t necessarily have to be connected with it.

  2. Looking back, I was following something that I thought I enjoyed but ultimately it really didn’t – something never just seemed right for some reason. I could not agree more with your sentiment on there being a reason behind making a switch and following something you want. Personally, there was just something eating at me and I knew what I was in just wasn’t for me. Making that change to follow what I wanted makes many of those tougher choices so worth it.

  3. Well this is just perfect timing for me. I just quit my job as an attorney making six figures to take a job at a financial firm, where I’ll make less money but I’ll follow my passion to become a CFP. I am so excited and couldn’t be happier with the decision, even though it was scary to make.

    • Ha! This is definitely perfect timing and I am SO happy to hear that you are following your arrow to financial planning!! I know that it’s a passion of yours and I know you will have a phenomenal career helping others doing it! Congrats!!

  4. I still stand by my crazy career decisions, but there’s certainly something to be said for taking the jobs that make sure your bank account is secure. I also think a giant aspect of this for me is not having a family or anyone else who has to count on my income, because I’m pretty sure that if I ever do, it’s likely to change my tune – at least a little.

  5. I’m doing a little bit of both. I still having to take on jobs/clients I don’t like to pay the rent, but I’m still making time to follow my own arrow. Sometimes it’s tough to juggle the two, but I think of how I’d feel if I just settle. No thanks. 🙂 Proud of Mel for following her dreams.

  6. If you are just doing a job to make a living, you will most definitely be less happy in my experience. But, whst about feeling called to do something else, perhaps it even being a well paying side hustle, but needing to support a family? That’s the position my family is in right now when following your arrow comes with tons of risk. I don’t think all personality types are set up for that. Maybe one day?

    • It is definitely difficult to balance the pursuit of following your passions versus taking care of your responsibilities. Sometimes you have to give some in both areas to make things happen. It’s not an easy decision to make, and you may one day get to the point where you have to pursue that passion and I guarantee you, your family, because they love you, will support you when you do.

  7. Just making money for now, although my current job is definitely more in line with what I like. I’m coming up on 30 but not sure about where I want to end up. Spending time with my family is becoming more and more of a priority though, so that’s going to be the focus. Hopefully I can pile away the money while it’s good and then move onto more relaxing and less money centered parts of life.

  8. I’m only making money, but that’s okay. After years on disability, I’m just thrilled to have a job — especially one that pays well.

    Personally, I think too many people fret about finding a career path that fulfills them instead of just focusing on life outside work. But hey, if you can manage to get a healthy balance for both, more power to ya.

    • I am with you Abigail. Sometimes you do have to just take the job and make the money because we don’t all get the opportunity to make money and pursue passion at the same time. As long as you are financially healthy, though, then I recommend trying to pursue both.

  9. “There are plenty of opinions out there about what you should do with your life and how you should live it, but we have to follow the trajectory that is most true for us, no matter where that leads.” Amen, Shannon! I originally planned to follow my father’s footsteps and become an oral surgeon, something he was certainly eager for me to do. However, I quickly realized that as much as I wanted to please him, I had a different calling. I think he was able to take solace in the fact that it was his money lessons that led me to become a financial advisor, instead of an oral surgeon. 🙂 I’m sure you are experiencing the same thing with Will, but I love watching the girls as they figure out what direction their arrow is pointing them.

    • You know, I’m pretty sure that even though you didn’t become an oral surgeon your dad was absolutely thrilled with your path. It is a scary and beautiful thing to watch Will follow his arrow and I fully support him during his journey. 🙂

  10. This is a great post, Shannon. I think I’m fairly content with my current career path….well as content as I can be. I appreciate the income (and earnings growth) my career gives me, but I do think that one day I will try to make a full transition to business owner. I’ve grown more content with the fact that it may not be for 10, 15, or even 25 years, but I will keep making plans and looking out for opportunities. I think it’s important to follow your arrow!

  11. Love this song and this post! My favorite part of the song is the line “say what you think, love who you love, cause you’ve just got so many trips round the sun.” So true, and really applicable to the world of personal finances. We each need to follow our own arrow in life and in managing our finances. Of course in many cases you need to have your financial affairs in order to be able to follow your arrow in life.

  12. I definitely used to follow the path that I thought I was “supposed to,” which didn’t bring me much happiness or fulfillment. Now that I’m on track to really do what I want, I feel so much more motivated and inspired! I don’t regret the career I’ve had thus far, but I’m looking forward to leaving it behind in favor of pursuing my homestead and writing dreams. I think it’s awesome that you’ve built a business focused on what you’re passionate about–truly inspiring!

  13. I’m always a little envious of those who follow their arrow. I wish I could figure out what my passion…what my dreams would be to do. I don’t hate my job nor do I enjoy it much. Sometimes I have entrepreneurial thoughts but I’m risk averse and don’t have the type of personality which I think is required.

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