Build a Life, Not a Resume: Other Reasons to Get Your MBA
If you are considering returning to business school and earning an MBA, you’ve undoubtedly done some perfunctory internet research on the decision. Overwhelmingly, blogs around the web tell you that an MBA is advantageous for your career — that those three letters on your resume will open doors faster than the bell of an ice cream truck. Then, access to higher-level positions will earn you high salaries, introductions to influential professionals, and outstanding career opportunities in the future.
Indeed, an MBA can slingshot your career toward success — but professional prowess isn’t everything. Having a stable and rewarding career is important to creating happiness, but it is just one ball in the juggling act of life. You should get an MBA because it will improve your life, not just your job. Let me explain:
Money Brings You Happiness… to an Extent
Dozens of songs loudly proclaim that “Love is all you need,” — but in truth, you need money to buy essentials like shelter and food. Fortunately, you only need enough money to build a comfortable lifestyle; any financial excess won’t increase your happiness. In 2010, a study from Princeton determined that emotional well-being is only improved up to an annual income of about $75,000; more recently, an analysis by an investment group revised that figure based on different regions, so someone in New York needs above $90,000 to reach the well-being threshold while someone in Utah only needs between $60,000 and $70,000.
Still, the point stands: Raking in unbelievable amounts of cash won’t make you feel any happier. Therefore, it might not be worthwhile to commit to a lifetime of student loans if that Ivy League MBA won’t make you any more content. Instead, you might consider obtaining an online MBA, which will qualify you for all sorts of high-earning, fulfilling jobs, but won’t seriously impact your annual earnings like longer, more expensive MBA programs would.
Work Is Always Going to Be Work
The youngest generation in the workforce today, millennials were raised on a diet of, “You can be anything you want to be!” and “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” As it turns out, both statements are false.
First, as much as Americans hate to admit it, the career you ultimately obtain is severely limited by your socio-economic status. It takes substantial effort and incredible luck to break the bonds of your class, not to mention your race and gender if those are anything other than white and male. Though affordable online education programs do much to close the knowledge and skill gap between poor and rich, there are plenty of positions you’ll probably never have access to.
Furthermore, even if you do obtain a position that relates to your passion — writing, painting, accounting, project managing, whatever — work will always be work. Just because you enjoy your job doesn’t mean it is less of a slog to wake up and get things done. It is a pervasive and pernicious myth that passion is important to your work.
Instead of trying to do what you love — or trying to love what you do — you should find fulfillment in your life as a whole. Your job is only a small portion of what you do and who you are. Earning your MBA will give you access to positions that allow you to earn enough to support yourself and your family while leaving plenty of time and energy for you to find satisfaction elsewhere.
How to Balance Work and Life and MBA
It is possible to enjoy life and earn enough to survive — especially if you have an MBA. However, during the years you pursue your degree, you might find it more difficult to balance your work, your schooling, and your greater life. These tips should help you survive your MBA program and provide a framework for a healthy lifestyle in your career to come:
- Be honest about your limits. Not everyone can handle a full course schedule, full-time work, and a large family. You need to cut back in the areas you can, such as being a part-time student or putting off starting a family until after graduation.
- Create “off-duty” periods in your schedule. Work and school are important, but so are you and your loved ones. You should designate at least two “off-duty” periods where you don’t think about your work or studies.
- Establish a healthy lifestyle. It’s surprising how much good food, adequate exercise, and sufficient sleep impacts your mental state. If you don’t take care of your body, you won’t perform well at work, in school, or with loved ones, so your health should be a top priority.