“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” ~Nelson Mandela
In the previous two posts we talked about whether or not living your passion really matters and whether or not you can make a living from your passion.
In this post, we are going to talk about some of the specific steps you can take to begin the process of living your passion and making an income from it.
Everyone’s situation is different, so it is hard to find a “one size fits all” formula for transitioning from your current life to a new, more passionate life. There are many practical considerations in addition to the trial and error that is inherent in figuring out exactly what is the best fit for you.
If you are independently wealthy and can afford to jump into your passion without a safety net, then you need not read further. But for the rest of us, we must prepare for a transition period that could take anywhere from a few months to a few years.
But don’t be disheartened, because it is so worth it. And here’s some other good news.
Once you make the decision to work toward your passion, you will find that the daily actions you take to get there offer a whole heap of satisfaction on their own. You know a great outcome is ahead, so the work to reach that outcome doesn’t really feel like work.
So let’s look at some of the actions you can take to get the ball rolling.
Setting the Stage
1. Write a vision. Begin with the end result. Write down exactly what you want your life to look like at the end of this process, in every area of your life. Post the vision where you can see it every day. You can revise it along the way if you want.
2. Revisit your current life. You’ve been focused on what you don’t like about your life. Take a look at your current life to see how much of it matches the vision you just wrote. You want to hang on to those things and remember that part of your vision is already happening. That will sustain you when the going gets touch.
3. Look at your current tolerations. What in your current life are you just tolerating? What drains your energy or constantly bugs you? Dump any of these things that you can dump now (without much effort or disruption) to make room for the new, good stuff coming your way.
4. Clear clutter. Not only physical clutter but the clutter of too many extraneous distractions, activities, and commitments that suck your time and energy.
5. Assess relationships. Look at all of your close relationships, both personal and professional. Are there any that drain you, upset you, or cause you problems? Is there anything you can do right now to release these people or change your relationship with them? Make room for important, new relationships.
6. Make an appointment. Set a daily or thrice weekly appointment with yourself that you set aside to work on the actions that will move your toward your dream life. If you don’t set aside the time for the work, you will never reach your goal. Put it on your calendar and make it non-negotiable.
7. Have the talk. Begin to communicate with the people who need to know what you are working toward. If this idea is threatening to a spouse or loved one, provide appropriate assurances that you are doing your due diligence and planning carefully. The best case scenario is getting their by-in and support. Listen to objections and concerns to address down the road.
Planning Your Finances
8. Save money. Begin putting money aside in a savings account. You may need this as you make your transition. It might be used for additional education or training, to get a business started, or to sustain you financially while you get a business up and running. You can also sell some of the stuff that you cleared out.
9. Plan your income. Determine your lowest acceptable yearly income. To do this, you will need to know how you spend your money, where you can (and are willing to) cut back, and how long you are willing to live at this income level. You don’t want to go into debt, so this needs to be a realistic number that can sustain a basic lifestyle.
10. Brainstorm other income streams. Start thinking about ways you can bring in extra cash in a pinch. Even if you transition from one full-time job to another, it’s always good to have a back-up plan.
Researching Your Passion
11. Start reading. Get online and begin reading everything you can about your passion or passions. Look at how other people have translated that passion into a career. Check out or buy books on your passion. Make notes about anything that seems interesting or relevant to you.
12. Narrow your search. As you begin reading and researching, you may find one or more career options that jump out at you. Deepen your research on those topics to find out exactly what kind of education is needed, who is already successful in this area, what kind of salary you could make, how long it would take to become proficient in this area.
13. Find a mentor. Find one or two people who are doing what you want to do, and doing it well. Reach out to them. Send them an email to ask if you can get their advice. Make a list of questions you want to ask.
14. Break it down further. As you learn some of the specifics of making a profit from your passion, do more research on what needs to be done to take those actions. This may be an on-going process as you are learning or transitioning.
15. Take some assessments. Whether or not you are pursuing working on your own, totally independently, or working in a team environment, it is useful to take a career personality test, an entrepreneurial aptitude test, and an emotional intelligence test. These will help you see where you might run into difficulties and what you are most well-suited for. You can find many of these free online. Here’s an entrepreneur assessment and an emotional intelligence assessment.
Planning Your Transition
16. Take the first action. Taking the first real action toward your dream is daunting. For me, that first real step was registering for coach training. You may not feel 100% sure that this first step is the right step, but you have to take it to find out. So set a date and take it.
17. Brainstorm and write. Think about all of the possible action steps you will need to take to get you from here to there (once you have done your research). Make one big long list, then go back and prioritize and order the list. Break down each action step into the smallest possible steps.
18. Create a calendar. Start building your planning calendar by plotting the above action steps on specific days or weeks. Allow yourself time for setbacks, interruptions, or changes.
19. Consider other people. Remember to keep those close to you involved and in the loop. You will likely meet some resistance. Think ahead about this possibility and how you will handle it. What is the bottom line for you? For them? Keep the lines of communication open.
20. Deal with your current job. Be sure to include as part of your action steps how you will move from your current job into your new one. Will you continue working at your old job as you start your new work? How and when will you discuss this with your employer? Be sure to leave on a good note and handle things professionally so you can maintain those ties.
During Your Transition
21. Keep the cash flowing. Depending on what you are doing, you may not bring in much money at the beginning of a new career. If you’ve done your planning, you are prepared for this with savings and/or extra income streams. Keep an emergency fund available and a list of contacts for extra work if necessary.
22. Stay motivated. It is natural when you move from something safe and secure to the unknown to feel fear and lose motivation at times. Stay on top of that by reading motivational books or listening to tapes. Continue to research and read about successful people in your field. Consider working with a coach to keep you accountable to your actions.
23. Deal with setbacks. Count on setbacks happening several times during the process of putting your passion to work. The path isn’t linear. You will have bumps in the road. If you accept that from the get-go, it won’t be a surprise when it happens.
24. Don’t stop taking action. Thinking, planning, fretting, and pontificating only go so far. Only daily, focused action will move you forward. If you don’t know what to do, just do something.
25. Have fun. You are working toward something amazing — the life you are creating. This is your heart’s desire, and although you haven’t reached it yet, every action you take is carrying you closer. Relish each and every action, because the process can be just as exciting as the result.
Many of the actions you take as you move toward your passion will be driven by your priorities and by the specific type of career or work you want to do. Be sure you do the groundwork mentioned in the previous two posts so that you are fully prepared to make this exciting life change.