How To Make Your Passion A Career (Despite What The Debbie Downers Say)
"To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it" Kurt Vonnegut
Growing up as a kid my sister and I loved to play outside in the field behind our house. Days spent just playing, free to imagine and create our own silly reality. Every day was a new adventure to explore and we were completely oblivious to the fact that our future selves would have very little time to play. We knew our parents "worked" but like most kids we had very little appreciation for the true meaning of the word.
Then in a blink of an eye we grow up. Fast forward several years when you turn 18 and society labels you an adult, you are about to explode with excitement to be out on your own. You couldn't wait to get out of the house and out from under all the rules and people telling you what to do.
Then you realize that adulthood delivers a cruel dose of reality. Bills, responsibilities, saving for a 401 (K). You know, all that boring future-planning type stuff that the older generation preaches about but those cute farmhouse inspired throw pillows you spotted in Target that would go perfect with your new duvet cover are calling your name and a much more fun way to use that extra $50 burning a hole in your pocket. Gone are the careless days of your childhood. Being a grown-up is serious business.
You find yourself in those quiet moments yearning for that care-free life you once had as a kid. If only you could monetize fun, work and play. A life where you can do what you love, what inspires you while making a great living at the same time. Maybe you love to write, design the latest fashion trends or spend hours making over a room in your house that could blow away even the toughest HGTV expert. Just when you think you have it all planned out and you are ready to take that leap of faith and build your wings on the way down (you saw it on a social meme and sounds so cool) the practical negative Debbie Downers come out of the wood work to rip that dream cloud right out from under you:
"That's a cute hobby but you can't make a living doing that".
You ask yourself “Why not? Why can't my passions also earn me a little side money and someday turn into a full time gig?!" but you allow that voice of doubt to creep in convincing you that a job or career has to be a realistic, intellectual choice and not one that comes from your heart.
When I first got that entrepreneur passion fire lit inside of me I was following the traditional path in corporate America. I had a good job as a Legal Assistant. I was doing well for myself especially for someone who had never gone to college or earned a degree. I was also a first time mom and while I enjoyed my job, there was something inside of me that was starting to shift. I started asking myself if it was possible to have the best of both worlds; earn a living while being a full time stay at home mom.
I started fantasizing about what it would be like to be my own boss, to have time freedom. To sleep in, no rush hour commutes, have a two hour lunch date with a friend in the middle of the week, stay home in my yoga pants when I felt under the weather and not have to call and explain that to anyone, play with my son at home instead of dropping him off at daycare.
The more I visualized what working from home and having that kind of lifestyle would look like, the more I desired to make it a reality. Of course any time I shared that verbally, there was always an annoying realist trying to rain on my parade.
“You can't make money doing that. Do your 30+ years, invest wisely and you can enjoy a nice retirement during your golden years".
But I wanted to enjoy and live life NOW. On my terms and by golly why couldn't I? Who was going to stop me? Why couldn't I work hard and PLAY harder?
In 2010 when the economy took a major down turn, I was laid off from my corporate job. Ironic really. The "financially secure" position that everyone tried to convince me was much more important than pursing my dreams was gone. Just like that. On a Monday afternoon at 3:29 p.m., January 31, 2011.
It was a huge turning point in my life, I just did not know how significant at the time. I was too concerned with bills that were due and a car note to pay but once I got over the initial shock, the passion and dreams that had once seemed so far out of reach now started to surface and seemed like a real possibility, especially with the opportunity of having full time focus and energy.
I knew it was time to make my passion my day job.
I began to shift my mind set. I read everything I could about being an entrepreneur, followed the stories of others who had transitioned from their full time jobs to business ownership, I shut off the T.V. and other negative forces and read inspirational books. I surrounded myself with people who had what I wanted, I became a sponge soaking up everything I could that would help me move what was written on a dream board to a living proof reality. MY reality. If you want to master a craft you have to be fully committed and I was ALL IN.
"What you seek, is seeking you" - Rumi
Do you recognize your passion? I am not talking about hobbies or things you like to do for fun when the mood strikes you, I mean the ONE thing that sets your soul on fire. The one thing that you can't stop thinking about no matter how hard you try to drive it from your mind.
Turning your passion into a career won't happen overnight but you can embark on an incredible journey one step at a time with the following tips.
1. Shout it LOUD. Shout it PROUD!
Even if you are in the very beginning stages of working to make your passion a full time gig, share it with the world. Put yourself out there and tell someone close to you or a perfect stranger that you just met that you are a __________. (Fill in the blank). Yes it will scare the hell out of you, yes you might get some negative feedback but so what. The more you affirm what you want the more aligned the universe will be with you to help make it a reality. We are what we attract.
2. OCD - Obsessive Compulsive Daydream
Move your passion from the back burner of your mind to take a front row seat. If you can't stop thinking about it, don't stop working for it. Think about it, write about it, talk about it, envision it. Your passion should be an obsession.
3. P.S. There Is hope.
Where there is hope there is faith. Where there is faith, miracles happen. Make a decision to go all in, commit that you will never give up hope or give up on YOU.
4. Making sacrifices
Being the dreamer that I am, I don't like to let my realistic side out too often, but I must dish out some honesty here. Reaching your dreams will take some major sacrifices of your time and resources. You may have to learn to do some things on your own that you don't particularly like to do because the budget won't allow for you to outsource it, yet. You may have to stay up late a few nights to get that sales funnel up and running. It will be worth it!
Find opportunities to freelance to help get your name out there (don't spread yourself too thin, choose wisely). Look for free how-to YouTube videos. Invest in a mentor, someone who has experience in your niche to help you stay on track with your goals and timeline. You can get easily distracted and frustrated when you are figuring it all out on your own. Time is money. Prioritize your revenue generating activities.
5. "Comparison is the thief of joy" Theodore Roosevelt
Launching a business is not for the faint of heart, its going to take all you've got to pull it off and you will run across people who make it look "easy". Don't ever compare yourself to someone else's success. It's not going to be easy. Don't let anyone sell you that lie. Is it worth it yes. Easy, no. You will face challenges, failures and resistance from yourself and others but this is your life changing journey. Celebrate the wins and learn from the failures.
Desire is a teacher: When we immerse ourselves in it without guilt, shame, or clinging, it can show us something special about our own minds that allows us to embrace life fully.
- Mark Epstein, Open to Desire
If it is to be, it is up to me.
At the end of the day, its all on you to turn your passion into profits. Its doesn't matter what your Negative Aunt Nellie has to say or what that miserable co-worker who's life is in shambles but has the fix-it answer for everyone else thinks about the life you dream about. You were destined for greatness and you have to believe that from the very depths of your soul. If you don't believe in yourself, you can't expect anyone else to either.
The Dalai Lama said it best "The point of life is happiness" and you deserve to experience all that life has to offer. Commit to yourself today that you will relentlessly pursue a meaningful life that brings you happiness like your life depends on it.
Because it does.