How to Live Your Passion Without Giving Up Your Day Job

I spent many years (most of my adult life)  without knowing or living my life passion. But over the last few years, I’ve found it and I’m living it.

I can say without a doubt that finding and living your life passion makes a huge positive difference in your quality of life. I’m sure if you survey other people who are living their life passions, you will hear the same thing.

  • I wake up excited about what the day will bring.
  • I love the work I’m doing.
  • I have a sense of purpose.
  • I feel engaged with interesting, like-minded people.
  • The day flies by as I lose track of time — I’m in the “flow.”
  • I don’t sweat the small stuff because I’m so wrapped up in my passion.
  • I am happier and more energetic in general.

Prior to finding my passion, my life wasn’t bad. In fact, by all standards it was quite good. In addition to having a wonderful family and children, I had built a nice career as a public relations consultant.

But something was wrong.

You’ve probably had this feeling yourself at some time. You know something is missing. You can’t put your finger on it, but there’s an emptiness or a sense of life not being complete or as good as it should be.

I felt guilty about this because it seemed as though I wasn’t grateful for all of the good things in my life. It finally took doing some self-exploration, research, and trial and error to learn that I was not living my passion, my inner calling. And the subconscious desire to live that calling was causing my internal disequilibrium.

Once I found it (coaching, writing, helping others improve their lives), it felt like my life had finally shifted into the perfect groove.

In my specific situation, I’ve been able to live my passion through my work. I dropped my public relations business like a hot potato, went back to school to train as a personal and career coach, and started a blog business. I now work full-time as a coach and blogger.

I was in the fortunate position of being able to stop working, go back to school, and start a new business from scratch. I wasn’t the primary financial supporter of our family, and my kids were old enough that I had the time to do this.

When You Can’t Quit

However, I recognize that many people can’t quit their jobs to start over with their passion. Or there may be other life constraints that prevent them from pursuing a career in their life passion.

I also recognize that the feeling of being trapped in a bad, mediocre, or uninspiring job can shroud you in hopelessness. It can certainly undermine any desire to find your life passion.

Why find it when you can’t do anything about it?

After considering the difficulties and potential repercussions of starting over in a career that you love, most people resign themselves to the status quo. There’s just too much at stake or too many roadblocks.

Before you give up on finding and living your life passion, I’d like to present you with two avenues of hope.

First, many of the perceived impediments to starting over or creating a career in your life passion are just that — perceived. Often we fear things that never come to pass if we begin taking the steps.

  • Perhaps you can live with less money.
  • Perhaps your spouse will be supportive.
  • Perhaps your boss will allow you some flexibility.
  • Perhaps you do have the time to take some courses or training.
  • Perhaps there is a way to make a living from your passion.
  • Perhaps you and your family will thrive rather than struggle through the process.

I am a firm believer that you should be passionate about your work. It takes up the vast majority of your time, so why spend so much time doing something that doesn’t fulfill you?

Personally, I would sacrifice many, many things in order to do work I love.

But this article isn’t about how to transition from your current career to a career you love.

This article is about living your passion without giving up your day job. And here’s the second avenue of hope.

There are points in our lives where it is impossible or simply not practical to start over, give up your security, or take time off to learn a new skill or go back to school.

Maybe you have commitments you need to honor — to send your kids to college, or take care of an elderly parent, or pay off your mortgage.

Only you can decide when and why to sacrifice passion in your career for the practicalities in life. But (and here’s the good news), that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice passion altogether.

The Power of Passion

Please pay attention to this next statement.

If you can’t live your passion through your work, then you absolutely must find a way to pursue your passion on the side.

The restorative and emotionally fulfilling benefits of living your passion in some form will compensate for a less-than-satisfying job. In fact, sometimes it can lead to a career in a way you never expected.

Khaled Hosseini, the author of the bestselling and internationally-acclaimed novels, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, began his career practicing internal medicine. However, his passion was to be a writer and to tell the story of life in Afghanistan prior to the Soviet invasion.

He began writing while he was working diligently at another very demanding profession. But his intense passion for writing resulted in a novel that sold 4 million copies and generated a feature film. The success of his first novel has allowed him to write full-time, although that was not his intent when he began writing.

But even if your passion doesn’t lead you to a new career, it can lead you to a more fulfilling and interesting life. It can bring a balance and richness to life that transcends the monotony of the “daily grind.”

So how can you integrate passion into your life? Here are a few things to try:

Discover

If you aren’t sure what your passion is, use some of your down time to do the self-exploration to find it. Just doing this work is exciting on its own. As a result of my own search and over 20 years of helping others with their passions through my PR and coaching work , I created a self-study course called Discover Your Passion to help people go through this important process. You can’t live your passion until you know what it is.

Experiment

Finding and living your passion isn’t a linear process. Sometimes you have to test and try various things before you find what really makes your heart sing. Before I started coaching and blogging, I opened a small antique business, and I volunteered in non-profit organizations for the arts.

It’s OK to try different things and reject them if they aren’t the best fit. In fact, it’s good to do that. Sometimes it takes experience in something to learn how profoundly it inspires you.

Collaborate

Find a group of like-minded people who enjoy the same passion that you do. Having a community to support and share your interests adds another wonderful dimension to your passion. You can go online and find support groups and organizations for just about any hobby, interest, or pursuit.

Integrate

Explore the possibility of integrating your passion into your current job or career. Maybe you can’t be a full-time writer, but perhaps you can do more creative writing on the job. Maybe you can’t go back and become a teacher, but perhaps you can train others in your place of employment.

With a little creativity (and maybe some negotiation with your employer), you can find a way to make your job match up with your passion. Here’s a great article on how to find passion in the job you are in right now.

Activate

Don’t allow feelings of boredom, inertia, hopeless, or despair prevent you from taking action. OK, so maybe you can’t start your own business today, but you can go out and explore your passions in other parts of your life through various networks, clubs, and organizations with people who share a common interest.

Take some kind of action toward finding your passion and integrating it into your life. You will create momentum by taking that first step, and then you’ll become intrigued and determined to live your life with some degree of passion.

Infuse

While you’re at it, try to live your passion in a way that infuses your life with a sense of purpose rather than just entertainment or recreation. When you have a sense that your passion has meaning and impacts others in a positive way, it will energize and fulfill you more than you could ever expect.

Your main purpose in life is to live authentically — to fully become the person you were meant to be. When you know and understand that, it can provide the foundation for your actions and choices around your passion activities.

If you aren’t in a position to start over with your career or transition to something more fulfilling, then don’t resign yourself to a life of “quiet desperation.” Your life passion is inside of you, begging to be released. It doesn’t care where or how you release it — it just longs for freedom and expression.

Open your heart and mind to all of the brilliant possibilities for living a life infused with passion — whether through your work, an avocation, or simply a lifestyle change.  Even incorporating a small amount of your passion into your day will increase your overall happiness and quality of life.

 

Comments

  1. Wonderful Barrie!

    I guess most of learn things over time and when we have had a rough time earlier in our lives or when things weren’t going well with our jobs, careers or at home.

    I guess what really matters is that we learn to overcome those hurdles and integrate passion in our life by the ways you mentioned and face the challenges.

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Harleena,
      Those difficult times pull us away from our passions. We lose touch with who we really are deep inside, before we had life and experiences bury us with influences and responsibilities. Just putting a little time toward reconnecting with your passion, what makes you come alive, is so worth the effort — even if you can apply it in small ways in your life.

  2. Thank you so much for your thoughts here. Fits perfectly with where I am in life at the moment. Living in the tension is hard but you can express your passion where you are while you are deciding where to go next. Very encouraging.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Absolutely Scott! Change and transition will be part of our lives forever, but once you tap into your passion, it can help guide and support you during those times. And it can help you stay balanced and positive when you feel that tension.

  3. Stephen Gaudet says:

    Ahhhh. A refreshing read for sure, thank you very much. I’ve been searching for my “passion” for quite some time now, and I finally know what it is. I feel as though a refrigerator has been lifted off my back. Thanks for continuing to inspire me!

  4. Great post! I firmly believe that far too often we set roadblocks for ourselves – falling prey to the ‘what if’ syndrome. Five years ago I left my salaried job and went back to school. The process throwing myself out of my comfort zone opened my eyes to rediscover my passion for teaching and now I am reframing my past career into a career that fills me and allows me to give back to my community. It’s not easy, but it is tremendously fulfilling. Feeling more in control of my career is incredibly liberating!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      That’s fantastic Jacqui. Following your passion isn’t without its difficulties and scary moments. But it’s amazing how creativity and inspiration step in when you jump off a cliff toward the unknown — especially when you are jumping toward your passion! Congratulations. 🙂

  5. HI Barry – I think under experimentation, I’d add elimination:) That’s the process of trying to discover your passion and figuring out what isn’t your passion and then crossing that off the list. The more things you experiment with and eliminate, the closer you get to what you are passionate about.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Yes, exactly Vishnu! Many people view that experimentation and crossing things off the list as failure or time-wasting. But it is so valuable. Aside from learning what you do and don’t like, you are picking up valuable skills along the way. None of these experiments are useless. They all provide information, ideas, and new skills.

  6. Hi Barrie, This was an excellent article and it fit in with exactly where I’m at right now. I have actually taken a little break from my website this week in order to step back and re-evaluate where I want it to go. I have a part time day job working in our own business, but my passion is knitting and sewing and living the best life I can at age 55. Now I’m trying to find a good route to fit the passion and my blog and my life all together in a cohesive way.
    Your article has helped me to think on this. Thank you.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      That is such an important break to make Nina. We all have to step back from time to time in order to make sure we are on the right track and living our lives the way we want to live them. This is part of the life creation process. Rather than allowing life to just happen, you are being pro-active, reflecting on what you want and how you can put your passion to its best use. Good for you!

  7. Carin Kiphart says:

    Nice article Barrie. Many people criticize those who chant “live your passion” assuming that they must have the means to do so. So it’s great to see you write on the topic of helping those who can’t just throw away what they do and go after their dream.

    I am one who, fortunately, never accepted anything less than living my passion. It’s not easy to do because of the backlash of people who always ask, “when are you going to settle down and pay the piper or get a real job?” The paycheck is inconsistent and it’s a constant lesson in focus to be creative enough to make the dream work.

    But for me it is worth the price. And I think for anyone else who dares to step over the line, they will see it too!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Carin,
      Thank you for your kind words. Isn’t it funny how threatened people can get when you follow your passion and don’t go the conventional route? If only they knew how rewarding, energizing, and fulfilling it is to have that kind of passion in life!

  8. The “quit your job and live your passion” group has been beating it to death recently. Thank you for this refreshing change here. I’m all for creating a little side business to shield yourself from an eventual layoff (especially at our age :)), but it seems like the concept of “work” and bringing your lunch pail and hustling hard has a lot of detractors if you’re not doing it from a laptop at the beach.

    My wife and kids happen to like where they live, and the option of doing things like vacation and (for the kids) going to college. My job supplies me with the capital to support my family and take care of things. That’s what jobs are for. You don’t necessarily have to “love” them. My passions are outside of work: writing, cooking, fitness, sports. Who’s to say you can’t have your cake and eat it too?

    Too many of us identify too heavily with our work. I think it’s time we tried something a little different.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Joe,
      I’m so glad you resonate with this post. When you and I first started out in our careers, working from a laptop at home wasn’t even an option. If you had a family to support, a mortgage to pay, and a good income, the option of chunking it all to follow your dream was pretty daunting. Now it is a viable option for people just starting out in their careers or for those who don’t have to maintain a certain salary level. And it’s a great option for people after they retire. You have to balance everything that is important in your life and make choices accordingly. But hopefully, some of those choices will include something that lights your fire. And if you can add passion into your job, all the better!

  9. Great article, Barrie! I once heard pursuing your passion outside of your day job termed as “career oxygen.” I think that’s a great descriptor because not only can pursuing your passion feed your soul, it can help you become more refreshed and interested in your main job as well.

  10. Awesome article, Barrie, I love it!
    Just what I needed right now – thank you so much for sharing this:-)
    I’ve just been working myself out and up from murky waters..I really need to find something to be passionate about again..

    Thank you again:-)

    Cheyenne

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      I am so glad you like it Cheyenne. Yes, it is time to get out of murky waters!!

  11. This was a very timely article Barry. I am 8 months away from my planned transition to create a little more freedom in my life. Not nearly ready for it but I am still standing by that date.

    My passion is to regain my freedom after years of full time work.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Kelly,
      That is fabulous — congratulations! What are you going to do with your new freedom?

  12. I really feel i have no passion? I feel life has killed even the will of having a passion.
    I love to live, and I can’t, can that be a passion?

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Nikky,
      I have felt that way before too — like I didn’t have a passion. We all do have a passion or many passions, but if you are shrouded in depression or fear or other debilitating emotions, it is nearly impossible to find your passion, much less act on it. Your comment was brief, but it sounds like you are dealing with some difficult emotions. I hope you will talk with a professional to make sure you aren’t dealing with depression. If so, there is treatment that can make you feel much better.

  13. VioletMC says:

    Hi Barrie,

    Help me understand what the first step to discovering ones passion is because right when i find what i think is my passion i lose the interest immediately. I want nothing more but to be able to provide for my children and give them all they deserve but i am having trouble discovering my inner peace. I am so miserable at my job and with everyone in the office, i am dealing with a spouse that is dealing with his own stress and depression and will not admit he has a problem so i feel like i am living a nightmare and just want to wake up! I love working with people that i do know but where is the spark? Please help!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Violet,
      It is hard to focus on a passion (finding it or living it) when you have so much turmoil going on around you. I think the spark is missing because you are depleted and don’t see a way to change your situation. Begin tackling these issues one at a time. What is the “low hanging fruit” that is causing the most turmoil for you now? When you honestly address that issue and work toward a solution, you will open up the space and energy to pursue a passion. I would kindly suggest that you find a supportive counselor to work with as you are dealing with these various issues, especially your relationship with your husband. Also, begin to simplify your life as much as possible to get rid of other stresses that exacerbate the way you are feeling.

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