Can You Really Make a Living Doing What You Love?
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In my last post, I posed the question, “Do you really need passion and purpose?”
I think the answer is clearly “no,” you don't need them. Most of the people in the world don't live with passion and purpose. But I can personally attest to the fact that passion and purpose make life infinitely better.
You feel happier and more enthusiastic about life.
You have an overall sense of fulfillment and meaning.
You feel you are living more authentically.
You don't focus on the negative as much because you are having so much fun.
You don't need as much to entertain or distract you because you are creatively engaged in life.
And least this is what I've found, and I'm willing most people who live with passion and purpose feel the same.
The practical and realistic among you might say, “Passion and purpose are great, but I've got to make a living. I've got mouths to feed and a mortgage to pay.” Believe me, I get it. Living passionately loses its luster when when you can't pay the bills.
Many people feel stuck in their current situations because they don't see way out. They don't see a way to make passion and purpose pay — or at least pay in the way they've grown accustomed to. It feels way too risky.
Plus, there are many other thoughts, fears, and attachments that lurk around the notion of making a living doing what you love. Do you recognize any of these?
- What if I'm not as passionate about my passion as I thought I was?
- What if I fail?
- What if people think I'm crazy and reject me?
- What if I make my family unhappy?
- What if I have to give up my current lifestyle?
- What if passion and purpose are just wacky concepts that have no real life application?
- What if I pick the wrong passion?
- What if I have to go back to school or get more training?
These are all valid questions, and anyone thinking about recreating their life to make a living doing what they love needs to do a lot of self-reflection and decision-making before they begin on this new path.
But the amazing thing about passion and purpose is that they tend to pave the way for you. When you feel passionate about something, and when that passion gives you a sense of purpose, you can make things happen in a way you never thought possible.You just need to pull one thread to unwind a whole lot of knots.
“The more intensely we feel about an idea or a goal, the more assuredly the idea, buried deep in our subconscious, will direct us along the path to its fulfillment.” ~Earl Nightingale
The bigger question related to designing your life around your passion is this: “What parts of my current life does passion trump?”
Does living a life of purpose and passion trump . . .
- your current salary;
- your current lifestyle;
- where you live;
- how you are perceived by others;
- your spouse or partner's wishes;
- your children's wishes;
- your parent's wishes;
- your material things;
- how you spend your time?
For me, at this stage of my life, making a living doing what I love trumps just about all of these things. That doesn't mean there aren't adjustments I can make to accommodate people I love, or that I've had to change everything.
But it means I've chosen to give up some things so I can live differently. And because I live differently, some of the other things don't matter as much.
For me, doing what I love means . . .
Doing work that is purposeful, interesting, and creative.
Spending quality time with family and friends.
Having great experiences (travel, theater, eating out, etc.)
Having time for exercise, reflection, time in nature, relaxing.
Having a comfortable and easy to manage home.
Having a lot of flexibility in my work and life.
Making enough money so that I can do the above.
I am no longer focused on . . .
A prestigious career.
Making money just to make money.
Having a lot of fancy material things.
Worrying what others think of me.
Having the “right” home, car, clothes, or gadgets.
Preparing for Passion and Purpose
Two great things I have discovered (which I so wish I'd learned earlier in life) are:
1) If you are doing what you love, work feels like play, and it's hard to tear yourself away from it;
2) There are a limited number of hours for enjoyment in a given day or week. I have to prioritize my desires and wants. I have to narrow those down to the top five. These top 5 priorities are where I need to be spending the vast majority of my time.
As I said, for me it's relationships, meaningful work, great experiences, time for fun and relaxation, and a comfortable home. (In fact, my current suburban home is more than I need, but I've chosen to live here a while longer until my kids graduate from high school.)
So that brings us back to the question, “Can you really make a living doing what you love?”
Yes, you can.
But you have to decide the right timing, the right balance, the right priorities for you.
Before you even begin working toward making a living at your passion, ask yourself these questions:
- What are my top five life priorities?
- What does living a life of passion and purpose trump over other areas of my life?
- Would I be willing to live leaner if necessary?
- Would I be willing to move if necessary?
- Would I be willing to go back to school if necessary?
- Would I be willing to upset some people?
- Would I be willing to save money to prepare for my life change?
- Would I be willing to experiment to find the best fit for my passion?
- Could I create a back-up plan?
- What is the worst case scenario? Could I survive that?
Once you have defined your passion or passions, and you know what your priorities are, then getting to the life of your dreams is a matter of some creative thinking and taking regular, specific action steps to get you there.
That's what I'll discuss in my next post.
Are you thinking about making a living doing what you love and following your passion? Please tell us more in the comments.
If you don't know what you feel passionate about, check this out: