You’re more likely to make sound decisions if you follow the math rather than your passions. 2

from book

In 2005, Steve Jobs gave a commencement speech at Stanford University. His advice to the students? “Follow your heart.” That feel-good mantra rippled around the world. Endorsed by the great and good, it soon came to feel commonsensical – why on Earth wouldn’t you follow your passions and do something you love?  Here’s one reason: it’s often the wrong choice.  Take the often life-defining decision students make every year about what they’re going to study. That was just what the author, Kristy, was mulling over back in 2000. She had a shortlist of three possible majors – creative writing, accounting and computer engineering. Her heart told her to go with writing; math told her to go for engineering. Kristy followed the latter’s advice. It was a good call.  Let’s look at that math. A four-year program in Canada costs about $40,000. Professional writers fall on a spectrum between the unpublished newbie who earns zilch and established pros like Stephen King who earn millions. The average income, however, is $17,000. In 2000, the minimum wage was $6.85 an hour or $14,248 a year. That’s what anyone without a degree could expect to earn, so subtracting that sum from $17,000 told Kristy how much a writing degree was worth: a measly $2,752.  An accounting degree, by contrast, was worth around $24,000 more than the minimum wage. Computer engineering meanwhile netted you a whopping $40,000 more every year.  But hold up. You can’t put a price on happiness – surely dreams are worth pursuing whatever the bottom line says, right? Well, not necessarily. After all, if you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, you’re unlikely to wake up excited about your work, especially if it calls for creativity. Passions also change over time; a 2013 study published in Science found that the dreams of nearly all of the 19,000 participants had changed significantly over the previous decade.  And that’s why it pays to follow the math. Just ask Kristy. Today, she’s a professional writer. The reason she got there is simple: her well-paying engineering job meant she wasn’t reliant on writing to make the rent. Money, in other words, provided her with the foundation which eventually allowed her to pursue her true dream.  In the following blinks, we’ll see how she did it.