Doesn’t it seem like everybody and their editor is talking about turning your passion into a career? You’re supposed to quit the day job you loath and bake cupcakes or run a lighthouse, whatever it is you love. Usually these stories involve lawyers or high level business execs who no longer love their jobs enough to justify the 6-digit salary. GAG. Like anyone in today’s economy is going to risk quitting their lousy job to sew dog sweatpants.
On the other hand they do have a point. If you don’t at least gain personal satisfaction from your job you’ll learn to hate it. Not like I’m speaking from experience or anything, but having a job you resent can become toxic. Since you spend 1/3 of your day at work it’s pretty likely that the radioactive work sludge will spill over into your personal life, coloring everything a nasty effervescent green.
But how do you even know what your passion is? I knew what mine was right up until I was nineteen: horses. At that point reality smacked me in the face and said “no money here!” It was difficult to be a professional rider when my lifelong mentor didn’t have the same goals I did, leaving me way behind the learning curve and a little disenchanted. I moved back home and got my Associate’s degree, then my Bachelor’s, all along the way thinking I knew what I wanted only to discover that I really had no idea. My passion was gone and my inner bloodhound was on vacation; I had no idea what path to follow.
Then, somewhere in between ominous storm clouds and blazing sun bursts, I rediscovered my passion in Arizona. Just like that everything clicked into place and not only did I know what I wanted, I knew how to get there. It feels stupendous! For the first time in my adult life I feel a blanket of peace wrapped around me and a new sense of clarity. I hadn’t even realized it, but until that moment I was only half-living in a state of constant stress. Perhaps it sounds silly to put that much importance on your career choice, but I really don’t know any other way to be. Working somewhere just to pay the bills never occurred to me. Why waste 1/3 of my day doing something I don’t care about? That’s half of my waking hours!
You’re probably wondering what my majestical conclusion was. Really it all stemmed from a desire to work from home. First it was so I could spend all day with Wally, making both of us gloriously happy. But then I realized that in order to campaign him I’ll need a pretty flexible job, and the best option is to work from a computer with a WIFI connection. This narrowed my options to things like blogging, web design, photography, and writing. All of these are things I’ve done before and am good at, but they’re skills I never took seriously. I was a science major people, I didn’t think I’d be making a living off of words and pictures! Of these the one most likely to get me a steady income in the next year is writing copy freelance, so that’s my initial focus.
Will it be easy? No way! Like any entrepreneur I have to sell my product, and in this case the products are my skills. People paying me fair market price for my skills? Now that’s a turn of events! The good news is that I can develop a portfolio and hone my skills on the side as I keep the steady income of my day job. Instead of plucking random skills from random places in an attempt to discover a passion, I can focus on the skills that truly matter before they make/break my salary.
It sure feels good to finally have a vision for my future that I’m excited about!