Debate: Is a successful job better than an enjoyable one?

Rebecca Barkdoll, Opinion Editor

Round 1

Side 1: While everyone, of course, would like a job they enjoy, it’s not really feasible to make that your main focus when job hunting. Any job you look for will need to be able to provide for you, and it’s not a guarantee that the one you enjoy the most will be able to do so. A successful job—defined in this debate as one that is more than able to cover living expenses and is in relatively high demand—is a more practical goal. Looking for success rather than enjoyment means that you won’t get your hopes high for something you will love rather than a job you can be content with—or at least tolerate. Instead, you’ll have the means to take care of yourself so you can devote your free time to hobbies you enjoy. The hobbies will help you relax, and the job will help keep financial worries at bay.

Side 2: Yes, a successful job is useful, but a job you enjoy is better. Why? One, not every job is a successful one if you use the definition mentioned earlier. But those jobs might be necessary. Think of waitstaff and retail workers. So, to argue that no one should try for those jobs means that there would be a gap that needs filling. However, those necessary jobs might be enjoyable for some people. Should we tell them not to take them? No. It benefits everyone if they do. Two, by having a job you enjoy, you are reducing your stress levels. Yes, you might need to work a few more hours, but if they’re hours you’re enjoying and you’ve still got enough free time for other activities necessary for your well-being, then is it really that big a deal? They say that time flies when you’re having fun. So choosing a job that is fun means that you’ll most likely be more productive and more content.

Round 2

Side 1: There are a couple of things about this argument that need to be countered. First, why can’t a job be both enjoyable and successful? It very much can be, especially if you’ve invested your time, energy and passion into a career meets our definition of a successful job, just like Walt Disney and his uncle and brother did when they began creating films in his garage-turned-studio. Many great start-ups have been made this way, and we would never argue that their contributions are not needed nor wanted. Second, if the job you enjoy can’t pay the bills, are you really less stressed? In fact, you’re probably more so, simply because you have to work a lot and deal with financial issues. It might even turn a thing you love into something you hate. Why risk getting up every morning knowing that the thing you love is taking time away from your other needs and just pilling up more stressors for you? Keep it as a hobby and find a job that fits your needs in other ways, success included.

Side 2: A big issue with prioritizing success over enjoyment is that there are no guarantees that your job will be a good place to work. For example, if you choose a fast-paced, important job with toxic management and amazing paychecks over your life-long passion and a team that holds the same drive and passion, do you really win? Not to say that an enjoyable job can’t also have many stressors or toxic aspects, but at least you’d get some enjoyment out of it. Another issue is productivity—since, apparently that’s what our culture is all about. Stressed people are less productive, and the drive to succeed can often be stressful. So if you’re not working a job that you enjoy, you’re getting all the stress of success and none of the enjoyment to balance it out. But an enjoyable job, while still stressful, is more likely to give you stress in a fun way—the way that keeps you from getting bored and that gives you purpose.

*Note: This debate ran Feb. 28