The saying goes “follow your passion and the money will follow.” Its close cousin is, “follow your passion and you’ll never have to work another day in your life”. But is it true, or it is bad advice?

We all crave passion in our work. Passion is energy, drive, conviction and all the people we admire for what they have achieved have it. It gives us “stickability” in our work that can help us keep going when the going gets tough and in time, receive immense emotional and financial reward.

Enjoying what you do IS important. However in my sixteen years experience of coaching hundreds of clients, simply take a hobby or interest such as cooking and turning it into your new full-time living needs careful thought. Here’s my top two reasons why:

Reason 1: Making a full time living from just that interest is unlikely to be viable financially especially if many people share your passion

While this week a teenager earned £1million from winning a Fortnite game, most gamers won’t win anything.

If you love cooking or cheese-making, the market is flooded with cupcake and other food businesses. Of course if you are Nadiya Hussain and have won British Bake Off, you will be able to land cooking book and presenting deals, but most people do not have ready access to that kind of publicity nor could they handle being constantly in the public eye.

And here’s a reason you may not have considered. If you are the breadwinner for your family, jacking in your job in law or financial services to coach football because “it’s your passion” may cause deep resentment with your other half especially if used to a high standard of living or they want to keep the kids at private school. This is not to be underestimated! I’ve seen relationships break down when the income drop is significant. You cease to be the man or woman they married.

Reason 2: Doing any passion full-time may well kill your love of it

Knitting adorable rabbits for kids can be great fun when done for fun, friends and family. But pressure to churn out the sheer volume combined with the need to constantly market and sell to make ends meet may well defeat the purpose for you. Running a business is about accepting the lifestyle that comes with it first and the content of the business second.

What to do instead?

Be practical. Always do your research to check the viability of whatever you want to move into before you attempt to make a move. By this I mean, interview a number of people following your interest about what they earn. Find out the average. Don’t be swayed by the top 1% earners.

For some of our clients, the workaround has been finding a way to make their interest part of a portfolio career or additional stream of income and through coaching they discover effective strategies to test and refine and do their idea alongside a main form of income. It’s not a cop out. We forget Einstein’s day job was a patents clerk leaving him headspace and energy to pursue his curious mind. If demand and income exceed what you are earning in your main job, then you could cut back or leave. 

Other clients find a way to integrate an interest into their main job. I’ve seen call centre agents with a penchant for drawing cartoons or video production support their internal communications team by providing funny and compelling pictures and video to communicate important corporate messages.

There is a fourth path. The book Grit by Angela Duckworth is essential reading. It tells the tale of a man whose passion was history but who became a chemist because his father told him that he needed a chemist for the family business, not a historian. He went onto become one of the top scientists at DuPont in America. It seemed he allowed himself to be curious, to really go deep with his subject which in turn allowed him develop a deep-seated passion for the subject. Duckworth also talks about how resilience is key to the process of deepening that passion.

 

Perhaps this article has given you food for thought. Are you fed up with your current role and looking to escape it to pursue a dream? Maybe you are clear about the dream but want to explore whether it’s achievable for you. Maybe you have no clue as to your options but you can’t see a way to make your current role sustainable for you over the long term.

Sign up to our complimentary How to Change Career webinar this September, or if you would like to have a personal consultation to explore you and career change, book a career review through our online calendar. I look forward to speaking with you.