Follow your passion and the money will come. Read that lately in a career advice book or blog? It’s a nice catch phrase but certainly not always true. While it’s nice to hear about the guy that loves sports, studied sports management and quickly landed his dream job at a top tier sports organization, the story doesn’t always unfold that way. The reality is, while the sports industry continues to grow, there are still only so many sports-related companies to work for and the competition for those positions – like many jobs these days – is steep. Another truth is many emotionally satisfying jobs don’t pay top dollar because the non-compensatory rewards are high enough to entice qualified candidates. If you find yourself in a situation where a sports job you seek either isn’t available in the marketplace or doesn’t pay you well enough to take care of your family, you aren’t alone. Many of us want to follow our passions but find it difficult to balance that desire with the need to earn a steady income and care for our families. Don’t give up just yet though. Creative ways to pursue your passion exist, even if it begins as a part time endeavor.
Get out of your rut. Most people are routine oriented. It’s comfortable and removes the stress that comes with trying new things. We wake up, go to a job that’s somewhere between tolerable and disheartening, spend the evenings with friends and family or watch too much TV, go to sleep and do it all over again the next day. And on the weekends we enjoy a couple days away from the office, unless we’re putting in extra hours finishing work that was due last week. But most of us have a creative yearning to do something more, something different. Some love to write, about sports or otherwise. Others might be interested in creating different forms of media, like podcasts or video blogs. And some enjoy website design, application programming or graphical artistry. Many of us wish we selected a different career path than the one we’re headed down but don’t do much about it because we’re busy and embedded in our routine. While most people aren’t in the position to quit their job and pursue their passion full time, the majority of us can explore it part time.
Assess where your passions lie. Finding what makes you happy is easier for some people than it is for others. Develop a list of these interests and rank them as few of have enough free time to explore them all at once. This endeavor is about enriching your live but we’re not evaluating hobbies here, it’s about bringing you closer to the work you really want to do. Evaluate which ones could bring you income, whether that’s short or long term. And rank the part time and full time income potential of each. Some, like pursing a new degree, will make you nothing part time since you’ll actually expend money in the short tem expecting long term gains. However, becoming a freelance writer could bring you immediate income. Also, determine the feasibility of each one of your passions, ranking them as well. If it’s something you could start tomorrow with little capital, the feasibility is high whereas a start-up company with manufacturing needs isn’t as easy to get into. Finally, rank how enriching each one would be to your life so you can assess where it lies on your scale of interest.
Evaluate and choose a passion. This analysis will make or break the success you’ll have in this venture. Use your income, feasibility and interest ranks as a guide but don’t let them make the final decision. If your highest ranked interest is going to website design school but it’s the lowest in feasibility, it may not be the wisest decision. In this case, making a more realistic choice like self-taught website design may be better as it also ranks higher on the income scale. Often times, finding a passion that has a low barrier to entry gives you a better chance at making it happen. The cottage industry, the home-based business, is booming as people who are unemployed, underemployed or unhappily employed search for ways to make more money and improve their lives. If your passion is creating a product or service, it can and is being done all over the country. Some people rent equipment or outsource production instead of buying expensive machinery and others just need a computer and an internet connection to get started. Narrow down your list and choose one that is feasible and will make you happier, even if it doesn’t immediately surge your income. Once you’ve made a decision, explore ways to get started. Do you love writing? Start a blog to hone your skills, build a small reader base and use that experience to find freelance work. If graphical design is your passion, make sample ads or logos and talk face-to-face with local small business owners to see if they want new advertising for their store. And if education is the only way to move into work you’ll love, talk to your loved ones and do research and budget analysis to determine if your family can handle your part time schooling. Most interests have a part time path to entry so set your goal and determine the best ways to get started.
Make time for it and make it happen. This is the tough part because it requires your most valuable commodity, time. Everyone’s busy but, with some planning, time can be carved out for a project that’s enriching and financially beneficial. Do you wake up, take a quick shower and jump in the car for your daily commute to work? And at the end of your workday do you eat dinner, play with the kids, watch some TV and head to bed? For most people, some form of that routine is engrained in their lives and changing it is a feat in itself. But it can be done. Take time to write down what you do in your off-work hours and what times you do each of them. Evaluate what fills your time that isn’t really time well spent. Do you spend two hours a night watching TV? Cut it down to one, freeing up time for your side passion. Does your alarm clock go off an hour before you have to leave for work giving you enough time to shower, dress and get out the door? Set the alarm thirty minutes earlier, leaving you time before work for your part time project. Or instead of going to bed at ten o’clock, give up an hour of sleep and do some extra work after the kids are in bed. Even if you have a busy family life, the weekend presents several free hours to write, program apps, take a class or otherwise pursue your passion. Each of us has pockets of time to embark on new endeavors but it requires discipline, flexibility and self-motivation because, unlike your day job, there’s no one but yourself to hold you accountable.
Ideally, the pursuit of your part time passion will make your life feel fuller while increasing your earning potential. And the part time work you do now may turn into a full time career down the line since employers will appreciate your entrepreneurial spirit and new work experiences.