It’s easy to say, “love your job and you won’t work a day in your life,” but how practical is that? How many windsurf instructors or puppet makers can the world support? And if you do find a way to make your hobby your career….doesn’t that ruin it all?
One piece of good advice for those in the process of earning a traditional Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree is “major in the practical, minor in the passion.” Isn’t that selling out, though?
Not necessarily. Sometimes it’s just common sense. Sometimes it takes a little ingenuity. And sometimes it’s just being honest with yourself and the world around you.
A recent poll by Monster.com revealed that over half (56%) of those currently employed are not working in a field which satisfies them. They are not working in their passion. Even that number seems surprisingly low, given the number of people who are encouraged to “follow your bliss.” But does it make sense to put off starting a family and maintaining some semblance of financial stability to leave a job in banking for life as an installation artist?
Finding Balance & Adjusting Attitudes
Lots of people want to be actors, but almost nobody wants to work the grill at Taco Bell. Little children don’t dream of becoming insurance adjusters. But there is no such thing as a bad job. Focusing on gratitude and finding ways to bring your Saturday afternoon craft show into your Wednesday morning board meeting is enough for some.
There are many ways to have feet in both worlds. For example, those who love literature can become teachers, and write around their school schedules. Those who are avid musicians can play in a band on weekends while holding down a job as a financial advisor during the day. There are many ways to bring both hobby and work life together, especially in a blossoming economy.
One way to keep paychecks coming while slowly feeling your way into another field is to volunteer. If you sell stocks but really want to be a dog handler and breeder, volunteer in animal shelters after work to see if you really can live a full life outside the cubicle.
Living Beneath Your Means
A common problem of finding work in a “passion field” is that work tends to be intermittent and pay on the low side. However, some people do make this happen, and without a trust fund, too.
One way is to concentrate on paying off debts and living beneath your means. In this fashion, you have savings for a cushion as you attempt a career switch, as well as a structured plan in place for a life with stop-and-start income.
Think hard about what you really want out of life and what you’re willing to give up to follow your passion. How serious are you? Do you really need a six-bedroom house for three people? You were approved for a $200,000 house loan, but do you actually have to spend that much to find an acceptable place to live?
There’s a reason why minimalism becoming more and more popular as a way of life. Some Americans, having lived their entire lives with the whole world accessible just a click away, struggle to find meaning, and find it in a simpler lifestyle.
Minimalism is not poverty or living without antibiotics; it is doing away with what is extraneous and avoiding more simply because it is more. The tiny house movement is evidence of this; entire families are leaving behind McMansions in exchange for Dad working part time or homeschooling their way through the National Parks.
Truly sitting down and taking inventory of what is important to you, and what is not, will lead you on the proper path. If you find that you value your two-week vacation and healthy 401K over life as a woodworker, there’s absolutely no shame in that. Keep the workbench in the garage outside in play as you plow through a 9 to 5 to put food on the table. But if you’re miserable and taking that job as a county auctioneer is the only way to remedy it, you might want to find a realtor.
Such changes, especially if children are involved, should be undertaken slowly and with a great deal of planning. For example, if you’d like to consider minimalism but shudder at the idea of tossing 18 of your 22 pairs of shoes into the Salvation Army bin, try boxing up what you don’t need for everyday life and see if you can do without for a while. If so, you can try to simplify further.
Knowing Yourself & Your Needs
Being honest about your passions and your skillset is key. Do you love to sing? That’s wonderful. Now, are you any good?
That is, of course, a subjective question. There are plenty of wonderfully talented singers who will never cut an album, not to mention the mediocre performers who somehow found their way to the Grand Ole Opry. Sometimes success is a matter of luck; sometimes it’s a matter of hard work; and most often it’s a combination of the two.
The trick is realistic expectations and understanding what’s possible and what’s improbable. Nearly every star has a “they told me I couldn’t” story to accompany wild success. But what are the odds, and what is your life like? If you’re 51 years old and never saw a luge track in your life, are you really, honestly, going to make the Olympic team?
Taking a skills inventory and a personality indication test is a good way to know if you have the drive and personality necessary to succeed professionally in your passion. You might love to paint all day, but if you’re stressing over completing a consignment and the joy has vanished from putting the brush to canvas, have you made the right decision?
Balancing expertise, family obligations, and personality tendencies can take a lifetime – but it’s worth it.