Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life. Confucius is credited with this quote, and many people have accepted his words as truth.
Growing up, we are told to follow our passions, to dream big and reach for the stars. To find what we truly love. Only this will bring us true fulfillment.
But is this reality?
Sometimes our passions don’t make for viable careers. If I could read books all day for a living, that would be great, but it wouldn’t be a career.
Or even when we do follow our passions, we end up having to compromise in the process of making it a career. For me, I’ve always had a passion for writing, but I didn’t always envision myself writing about construction companies or grocery stores or strip clubs (all of which I have done in my career).
The truth is we need to be practical with our life choices. We need to be able to make enough money to sustain our life. And sometimes passion isn’t what’s going to get us there.
But making a career choice doesn’t mean we should forget about our passions completely. We need to find something that makes us happy and that we enjoy making a career, even if it isn’t exactly how we envisioned. Here’s what I’ve learned about building a career out of your passion and how to find the right balance of passion and practicality:
1. Money isn’t everything
If you’re going into a field solely because of the potential money you can make, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. And with money as your only motivator, you’re going to get bored quickly.
Yes, we need money to survive. But it doesn’t have to be everything. There are plenty of career options that can provide you with a decent standard of living. They may not make you rich, but being happy with what you’re doing is more important.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you can’t completely ignore money either. Your passion isn’t going to feed you or put a roof over your head. You have to figure out a way to make enough money to support yourself. That’s why you must be okay with a little compromise.
2. Compromising isn’t selling out
Plenty of artists have had to compromise in order to make a living. Ernest Hemingway was a reporter before he struck it big with his novels. Andy Warhol drew advertisements for magazines before he was known for his art. And there are tons of people working today just like they did.
You can’t quit your day job to follow your passion – at least not at first. But you can find a way to use your skills and your passions to make money. It just may not be in the way you think.
Don’t think you have to suffer for your passion. You’re much better off having a solid financial foundation. You can even continue pursuing your passion outside of your day job if that’s what you truly want.
3. Start at the bottom
But how do you get started? You know you want a career and you want to follow your passion, but how can you marry the two?
Start by identifying the field you want to work in or the role you want to be. When I was first starting out, I knew I wanted to be a copywriter and work in advertising/marketing. But I didn’t get a copywriting job right off the bat. Instead, I worked as a digital marketing specialist at an internet marketing company.
It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do but it was related. And sure enough, less than a year later, I was transferred to the copywriting department – exactly where I wanted to be.
When you’re first starting out, you may not be able to find a job that perfectly aligns with your passions. But do your best to get as close as you can and have faith that you’ll be able to work your way up to a position that meets all of your needs.