For the lucky few, doing what you love does bring in the money, but the hard fact is that only too often the things we love doing are not the things that are financially rewarded in our materialistic world. Artists, musicians, inventors – all sorts of people with enormous creative talent – can spend years struggling to see any reward for their efforts, and maybe it never happens at all. Not everyone manages to turn a dream into an unimaginable fortune at the age of twenty-five.
And the rest of us? We put our dreams aside. We need a regular income to support our families or to maintain the standard of living we’ve come to expect. What we really love doing becomes a “hobby”, or “something we’d like to do one day”. But at what price? Should we really ignore the fact that deep down we’re longing to do something else with our lives? And isn’t there a way we can combine what we really love doing with the work we have to do to pay the bills?
What are your options?
No one can see into the future and be absolutely sure whether they can turn what they love doing into a financial success. Of course, there are risks; maybe making a career out of what you love will make it too much like normal employment, so all the fun goes out of it. Or maybe you’ll find that once you start, you’re actually not very good at it – or that no one wants to invest in it. But if you don’t try, you’ll never know.
Option 1: Do it – now
Give up your job and do what you love, by all means – but be aware that this is a huge risk and that you’ll probably be doing what you love at the expense of the people you love. That’s why it’s a lot easier to follow your dream when you’re very young and don’t have any responsibilities or dependents. So should you go ahead when you have more to lose? The answer is: it’s a hard world, and you should only give everything up to take the plunge if you can truly afford to fail without hurting yourself or other people.
Option 2: Wait
Another option is to wait until you can “really afford” to give up your job. But the danger here is that you won’t ever take the first step because you’re afraid of losing what you have (which tends to increase with each year that passes). And that is likely to lead to feelings of frustration, as the years pass and your dream remains just a dream.
Option 3: Start slowly
The most financially secure person is the one with several different income streams. So keep all your options open: start now, and do it in stages. This way, you don’t need to choose between your dream and your job – you can do both, fitting your dream into your daily life. Don’t think about what might happen or try to see into the future – just take the first step towards making it happen. You’ll be able to test the waters and see if there’s a market for your idea, without taking any huge risks. Give it six months and then assess your progress. And you never know: you might even end up bringing in enough money to eventually devote all your time to your venture.
And before you start, remember our three useful tips:
1. Make a road map
Make yourself a plan of action and define clear, realistic goals. Don’t be over ambitious! Small goals are much better than impressive-sounding large ones. Break the goals down into achievable steps, and check your progress regularly (for example, each week). As time passes, you’ll have a much clearer picture of whether or not your idea could really turn into something that generates a regular income. And if it’s not working, recognise that it’s time to quit, before you invest too much time and energy into it.
2. Work hard
It’s what you love doing, but your dream job is still a job and you must be prepared to work hard to make it successful. Whether you’re doing it full time or just in the evenings or at weekends, stick to regular hours when you can focus on just your idea and nothing else. Don’t try to do it when you’re at your normal job: it will distract you and could lead to real problems with your employer, particularly if you try to use office equipment or office space for your own purposes.
3. Love what you do
If the market for your idea is saturated, or if you’re not confident that you can earn enough doing what you love, then maybe you can start to love what you already do. Try to identify which element of your job you like best, and then explore ways that could allow you to do more of it. Maybe you can do a training course, or take on new responsibilities which give you the scope to explore your creativity. Find colleagues who share your interests and talk to your manager – they may be more receptive than you think to your initiative.
Whatever you do, enjoy it – that’s the key to a happy, fulfilled life. So keep your work–life balance healthy, and check it from time to time, just to make sure you’re still on the path you want to be on. And if you have a dream? Well, as we’ve said, if you don’t start, you’ll never know – and your dream will remain just that, and no more.
So it’s worth a try, isn’t it?