By Esther Litchfield-Fink, from Tiny Buddha: Simple Wisdom for Complex Lives
“Don’t let life randomly kick you into the adult you don’t want to become.” -Chris Hadfield, astronaut
As a kid, you put zero thought into doing what you loved.
You just simply played, not knowing that your future self wouldn’t play much at all. Work was serious business.
When I was in kindergarten, it had a block center, a board game shelf, a home center with dolls and a play stove, a drawing center, and a sand table.
We naturally gravitated to the area that was most fun, with no thought about what we needed to play with that would look good on our future resumes or college applications.
As far back as I can remember, making up stories, writing them down, and telling them to anyone that would listen were my favorite activities.
Fast forward to high school, college.
It’s Time to be an Adult
Others told me that writing and art were lovely little hobbies, but I needed to choose a real career, which would make money. I looked around to see what the other kids would do, for some type of idea. If it wasn’t writing, I was clueless.
I never thought of asking, “Why not?” Why couldn’t writing be a career? I just accepted that a job or career had to be something you made a realistic, intellectual choice about and not one that came from your heart.
And I wasn’t the only one who received messages like this. I heard Oprah say that as a child she was asked what she thought she would do as a career.
She said, “Well, I like talking to people.”
The person responded, “Well, you can’t make money doing that.”
7 Failed Careers Later
Years later, after I was told I couldn’t make a career out of writing, I ended up with a resume that was four pages long, and days that were like a yearlong run-on sentence.
I plowed through job after job, staring out the windows and riding the trains I hated to jobs I hated even more. I did a good job at most of them and earned a nice income.
I was a school secretary, lifeguard, pre-school assistant, mortgage processor, office manager, dance teacher, and a few others I can’t remember. I taught sewing classes and even started two businesses thinking that being my own boss would solve my empty feelings.
A Return to Love
Then I reached a turning point, which made me realize I needed to go back to doing what I loved and make it work somehow.
I had a week off work and found myself spending morning to night writing. I felt my headaches lifting, and a sense of peacefulness. I submitted an essay to a local newspaper. Even though the publication did not accept it, I didn’t care.
I knew it was time to make my passion my day job, and here is what I did.
The next time I was asked what type of work I did, for the first time in my life, I answered,
“I am a writer.”
I began to read everything I could about writers and bloggers that wrote for a living and how they did it, and how they transitioned from other jobs. I wrote daily because I loved it.
No worries about publication, earning money from my passion, just pure unadulterated love. I decided not to lose hope no matter what.
I got a response to an online ad for writing work and wrote a few blog posts for $25 each, and it felt like a million dollars.
So my kids started wearing their cousin’s hand-me-down clothes.
I held my breath as I tightened my belt until I could barely breathe. The fridge had the bare basics, the electricity got shut off once, and the car got towed and it was a pain to get it back. But I managed.
I took a course on writing, joined a business mastermind group, and worked with a mentor on writing during the mornings. And I worked evenings and weekends to support myself.
I was writing at last.
Do you recognize your passion? Not hobbies, or things you like doing for fun sometimes—the one thing that rises above all. Think back to what you loved to do as a child, what you gravitated toward for no reason other than fun, and you will find it.
Are you ready to say yes? Turn your passion into a career one step at a time with the following tips.
1. Tell one stranger.
Even before you’re working at making your passion your day job or income source, go ahead and tell someone that you’re a _______. (Fill in the blank). At any chance you get, do it again.
2. Obsess over it.
Move your passion from the back burner of your mind to the front. Think about it every chance you get if you’re not already doing so. Read about people who have successfully transitioned into the work you want to be doing.
3. Do it for love.
Whatever your passion, forget about making it into a career until you spend enough time reveling in the absolute joy of doing it. Paint, write, dance, take photos, carve wood, whatever it may be for love and only love.
4. Hope above all.
Decide that you will never give up hope.
5. Shout it out loud.
Put an ad out, or tell people that you are willing to do some work in your field of passion for pay or for free.
6. Wear the tightest belt ever.
Pull. Tight, if you must (if funds are an issue). I hate this part, but I must be honest. See where you could take some funds from one budget and put it toward a course or mentor so you are not doing this alone.
One person inspires another. If you are already pulled tight, reach out for a mentor or learn from free resources and YouTube videos.
7. Forget “Easy does it.”
Easy doesn’t do it. Period. You’ll face challenges, and resistance from yourself and others. Do it anyway.
Whoever told you that you couldn’t turn your passion into a career had better sit down, because you may be on your way to doing just that. The girl with the pretty voice from the Bronx, the English writer on the train on welfare, the guy with the alcoholic step dad that became President.
And now you.
Stop Looking at the Odds of Failing
The odds against successfully turning your passion into a career and making money from it seem so overwhelming. So stop looking at the odds.
The longing of not doing what you are meant to do catches up to you and it becomes like a faraway lover you dream of that will never return.
The power is in your hands to make it happen day by day, and to blow the naysayers a kiss from the podium. Every moment of the journey is, in fact, an end result in itself.
You will glow from internal approval even if the money doesn’t come as fast and as much as you would like.
Reclaim the act of doing your passionate work as your career, as if happiness depended upon it.
Because it does.
Esther Litchfield-Fink writes at SmartbutScared.com and has a report coming out on 5 Steps to Create and Write Your Way to Freedom. Click here to reserve your copy free and here for a free mentoring session.