In my Friday book review, I asked readers to comment and leave a question related to living values, pursuing passion, dreaming big, or changing the world in exchange for a chance to win a copy of Rework.
Jimmy, a friend of mine and a guy who’s out there chasing his passion in his work, left the following comment (and ended up winning the book):
One question I have for you about pursing your passion is this: In what instances would you encourage someone to combine their passion and source of income? You recently took a committing step to fully pursue your new venture Unconventional Innovations and step aside from your previous job. From your experience thus far, would remaining with your old company limit your opportunities for success or provide needed flexibility while you establish yourself? Interested to hear your thoughts on commitment levels for pursuing your passion balanced with the realities of a required source of income.
Jimmy brings up a great point, and in today’s post I want to put forth some extended thoughts on the subject of passion vs. income. When income is a constraint, it can really throw a wrench into pursuing our passion. It creates pressure to perform, it shortens our time horizon for finding or creating viable opportunities, and it generally makes the entire process less fun.
In response to Jimmy’s question I want to highlight three key scenarios that can allow us to pursue our passion while still making enough money to pay the bills and maybe have a bit of fun.
Scenario 1: We’re not all that ready to make any major life changes, and we just want a way to get more passionate about what we’re already doing. In this post I talked about three ways to find passion in our current job, starting today. The three key points: build relationships; Do more of what we love and become an expert; and use the four words “How can I help?” as often as possible. Head over to the link above for a more detailed post on how to make things happen given our existing circumstances.
When we find passion in the work we’re already doing, we will perform better because we are more excited about showing up. We will also secure our existing source of income by adding more value to our organization.
Scenario 2: We know our passion, we want to pursue it, and we know our current job is not the answer. However, it’s not viable to up and leave our job because we need the income. So it’s time to get to work in our free time. What do I mean by that? I mean it’s time to start creating or researching our passion.
To create our passion, we should begin laying the groundwork for establishing our own business or finding a partner to go in with. In a 40-50 hour a week job, it is perfectly feasible to establish a business plan, lay the groundwork, and be ready to go into pre-launch mode. The last step is fostering the courage to take the leap.
In researching our passion, we have one main goal: figure out what jobs exist that allow us to pursue it, and what companies have that kind of job in their organization. Notice I did NOT say ‘what companies are hiring for that kind of job.’ There is a big difference. 80% of available jobs are not made open to the public for application, so looking for openings that perfectly fit our passion is a futile exercise. In my coaching curriculum, I dive in depth into researching companies and preparing to conduct an intentional career search. The tools apply here as well. We need to define our ideal job description, network to build meaningful relationships and access the hidden job market, and then nail our interviews on our own terms. That process takes a ton of research and that’s what we’ll have to do in our spare time if we want to pursue our passion without losing our income.
Scenario 3: Our job is not the answer to pursuing our passion, and we work way too dang much to be creating and researching on the side. This is the death trap. We need the money, our job is demanding, and we have little to no energy to be doing extra work outside of our normal responsibilities.
In my mind, there’s only one option here. Save, save, and save. Calculate your total expenses per month and multiply times six. That is our target. If the number seems impossible, we need to consider what expenses we would be willing to forego for a six month period in order to pursue our passion. Ideally, we do enough research to find our passion and identify the necessary expertise/certifications/effort to pursue our passion.
As soon as we have our coffers built and we’ve done our base research, it’s time to hit the road. Our full time job becomes finding a way to make our passion a viable moneymaker. We might need help, and it might be smart to build into our savings budget a little extra cushion to purchase some education materials, hire a coach, or generally dedicate to networking and personal development.
Let’s wrap it up
There are three key ways to maintain our income while still pursuing our passion and taking a big step towards doing the work we love. We don’t have to leave our job to do so, and in some cases it might be better that we don’t.
No matter what route we take, I would make the argument that pursuing our passion is the key to not only long term purpose and fulfillment in life, but also to higher earning potential due to loving our work. But that’s for another day.
If you had to choose one of the three scenarios starting today, what would you choose? Why? What is the difference between your passion and your current work? Please share in the comments!