Turning your passion into a career: Wishful thinking—or a real possibility?

Imagine what it would be like to turn the hobby or activity you love doing into a paying job or career.  Think about what it would be like if you were able to do what you’re passionate about—instead of heading off to a humdrum job every day—and if the money really did follow, like they say. You’d spend your days happily teaching snowboarding, baking specialty cakes, or running a yoga studio. The cash would be there to put food on the table, pay the mortgage, and get your kids the braces they need, all while you were doing what you really loved. 

Get unstuck.

If you’re in a job that doesn’t feel satisfying and you long to do something more meaningful and exciting, you’re not alone. In a recent poll, Gallup found that only 32 percent of U.S. employees are “involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.” Whoa. Not the best of news, I must admit. But I do believe there’s a remedy.

I get it. I’ve been in a couple of those jobs. I know what it’s like to get the Sunday evening blues, to dread Monday morning, to watch the clock. However, I didn’t stay long in those jobs. It wasn’t easy, but I got out. Today I’m doing exactly what I love, and guess what? It never seems like “work!”

No matter where you are in your career…whether you’re just starting out in the world of work or you’re heading to the finish line, it’s never too late—or too soon— to orchestrate a change. Look at all those people on Shark Tank who are pursuing their American dreams. If they can do it, you can, too.

But don’t quit your day job just yet…

Success is most likely not going to happen overnight. Unless you’re independently wealthy or you’ve just discovered the cure for the common cold (and can actually patent it!), you’ll need to plan your transition very carefully, and not having all your ducks in a row could spell disaster. However, with thought, effort, and lots of passion, you just might become one of those lucky people who get paid for what they love to do.

Get going. Today!

Here are 5 things to do today to begin turning your passion into a career:

  1. Get real. Now, I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade, but just because you have a passion for, say, playing the guitar, it doesn’t mean that it’ll be a lucrative career choice. In this case, you need more than passion—you need one heckuva lot of talent! (However, even if you aren’t exactly Jimi Hendrix, don’t ever give up something that you’re passionate about, because experiencing passion is vital to your sense of well-being.) But back to reality here: the trick is to find something you can excel at and realistically turn into a money-paying career. Often, passion will follow. In other words, stay grounded in reality. You’ll save yourself money, time, and frustration.
  2. Check out the competition. This is quite easy to do today with the Internet. Are there others doing what you want to do and succeeding? What do they charge? Who are their customers? How do they market themselves? Find out all that you can, so you don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Learn from the mistakes and successes of others. Take notes and make a plan!
  3. Network within the industry. Talk to real people who do what you want to do. How did they get started? What hiccups did they run into? What’s their life really like? If you ask, you might find someone who’s willing to mentor you, and perhaps you can shadow them to find out. It never hurts to ask.
  4. Get on social media. Social media is here to stay, and it’s more important than ever to get connected and stay connected. Start a blog. Share your ideas on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Join LinkedIn. These are great ways to develop a following of like-minded people—and future potential customers.
  5. Avoid tunnel vision. Keep your eyes wide open. Consider all your options. Be willing to make modifications to your goals as you go along. For instance, you may not need to jump into the world of small business and start your own gig—maybe, just maybe, you can find a job out there in an already-established business, where you can do what you love while limiting the risk you have to take. Or perhaps it would take only a little bit of training to move up to a more enjoyable job within your current company. Be open to the possibilities!

Rome wasn’t built overnight. Think baby steps. As long as you are doing something to find meaning and fulfillment in your work, you’ll get there! For more advice on this topic, check out my new book Work It! Get In. Get Noticed. Get Promoted.

What about you? Stuck in a job? Just starting out and serious about following your passion?  Or on your way to turning your dreams into reality? Let us hear from you!