Financial Success vs. Personal Success

Have you ever struggled between financial obligations and your dream job? I have, and certainly most others have too; when it comes down to it most of the time we choose the big pay over our dreams because of our current economy. But when do we step back and regain control of our lives and fulfill our dreams?


Ever since I figured out I wanted to be a therapist I knew I wanted to have my own private practice. Like most of us, I was tired of working for other people under their rules, policy, and pay. Throughout my graduate program to obtain my Marriage and Family Therapist degree I was adamant that I was going to have a private practice; however, along the way I was consumed on “how can I obtain more client hours?” “how can I get paid while finishing my internship?” I started thinking about doing my internship at a county agency, either LA county or Orange; I knew I would get guaranteed hours, salary pay, benefits, paid vacations, and qualify for loan forgiveness. I got so invested in how much money I could make and all the sprinkles on top of a county job that I lost sight of my dream for being a therapist.


Up until I took my last final I told myself I wanted to finish my intern hours for the county;; however, a couple of weeks later the opportunity of working at a private practice fell on my lap. Ultimately, what it came down to was taking a step back and reevaluating my purpose, my dream, my goals of being a therapist. It all came back around to having my own private practice and starting a youth center. That was my answer. Research has shown that most private practices don’t make it pass the first 2 years, but here this woman is, having had a successful private practice for the past 22 years! She is willing to teach me the ins and outs of starting and managing a successful private practice once I obtain my MFT License. It just makes sense. Why invest your time, money, and energy into something for so long just to do something else? Yes, I understand that finance is always a major factor in the decision making. You could be making all the money you want, but if you aren’t happy at your job is it worth it? Success shouldn’t be about how much money you make, but rather how many lives you have touched. I understand financial struggle; I worked 3 jobs at one point to make ends meet; but I made sure all the jobs I obtained would enhance my skills and what I have to offer as a therapist.


I’ve come across a few individuals where I can just tell that their heart was not invested in what they were doing. They were there for the financial gains. “How much does it pay?” was what I heard from them… not, “What can I learn?”, “Is there room to move up?”, “how is that relevant to what I want to do?”. In any profession you need experience. My mindset was always take any job in your profession now at whatever they pay you because all the experience that you gain will eventually get you the big pay. We have to sacrifice in order to gain. You can’t lose weight just sitting around eating a bag of chips. You have to put in the work, break a sweat, feel the pain in order to see the results. Same thing with your career. You have to prove to everyone that you’re unique enough to gain that position, that you’re not just in it for the money. I worked with individual with Autism for 4 years; what I learned from all the clients I have worked with is that the clients can tell who is there for the money and who is there to truly work with them to improve. If they sense that you’re there just for the paycheck they will throw tantrums and give you hell. In mental health your passion for the job affects those you work with, affects their progress, and their program. Why affect someone else if your heart is not truly invested in the job? If money is truly that big of an issue, can’t you sacrifice some part of your life to invest in school or invest in some kind of way to get closer to your dream? Even if it’s just taking one class a week at a community college or online program, at least you are putting in that effort. What we do today ends up being a legacy for our children and grandchildren. Be someone who is not afraid to think big and go hard. It may be a slow reward, but I promise you, you will feel like the richest person once you fulfill your dreams and do something that not only improves your lives but the lives of others (even if you think it doesn’t impact them).

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With the passion and dedication towards making a difference in her community, Duyen pursued an education in psychology and obtained a double Master degree in Forensic Psychology and Counseling Psychology. Her knowledge and experience not only came from her education, but also came from working with diverse populations such as women with eating disorders, individuals with Autism, group home youth, and counseling high school teens.