“I Quit My Six-Figure Corporate Job to Pursue My Passions.”
“How I Quit My IT Job at 35 to Pursue My Passion.”
“How I Quit My Job and Found Myself.”
We’ve all seen the headlines. Someone making great money quits his job to follow his passion. And, lo and behold, he finds the same degree of success when he turns his dream into his career. (By the way, all those headlines above are real).
Boy, do they make it sound easy. Why would you have to think twice about leaving a stable, well-paying job to find a completely new career path? These folks sure found success.
Unfortunately, like most things in the media, this idealistic scenario is not based on reality. I am sure there are people out there who did experience this (you are lucky), but for the majority of us, quitting our jobs to chase our dreams can be a scary, difficult journey. There is a good chance you will find success, but not after your fair share of challenges.
So, how do you know if you should pursue your passion full time? Instead of reading about the ultimate best-case scenarios, ask yourself these five tough questions:
Will turning your passion into a career end up killing your love for it?
You may love to paint, but if your livelihood depends on finding inspiration and selling paintings, you may end up hating it.
There is a lot of stress associated with any job, and a career centered around your passion is no different. When your passion becomes your full-time job, you lose all flexibility (you can no longer wait to be inspired or have that “ah-ha” moment). You may have to force yourself to produce something and stare at that blank piece of paper for hours, asking yourself why you chose this passion to begin with. It’s okay to hate your passion at times, but you shouldn’t follow your passion if it will destroy any shred of happiness you get from it.
What are you willing to sacrifice?
You have to be willing to be uncomfortable for a bit, whether that be with a lower pay (or no income at all) or moving to a completely new city. In a lot of ways, you are starting from scratch and may have to reinvent the professional identity you’ve had for years. In general, following your passion includes some big changes. Be prepared to handle them.
What is holding you back?
I assume that if you are reading this article, you have not yet quit your job to go after your passion. Why is that? What is holding you back? Is it related to logistics, like money or insurance, or is there something bigger, hiding in the back of your mind?
Trust and listen to your intuition. If you feel hesitant or like something isn’t quite right when you think about making your passion your career, dive deeper into these feelings. It can be tempting to push them aside and move forward, but most of the time, it’s some part of your subconscious warning you that this isn’t the right thing to do.
What will happen if you don’t take action?
What would your life look like in 5, 10, or 20 years if you didn’t follow your passion? Will you regret not taking the risk? Can you find happiness elsewhere?
It’s a helpful exercise to imagine what your life would be like without pursuing your passion. This doesn’t mean you will never utilize your passion again, it just won’t be your career. Are you okay with making it your hobby and devoting most of your free time to it? Or do you need it to be your day-to-day job?
What steps can you take today to follow your passion?
If you were forced to quit your job tomorrow and follow your passion, what would be the first thing you would do? What goals do you want to accomplish in the first weeks or months? Where do you want to be in the next year? What is your ultimate goal?
You can’t jump into this process willy-nilly and hope for the best. Identifying your dream is the first step in a long process to develop a well thought-out plan and improve your chances of success. If you can’t answer these questions, take more time to think through the logistics of your passion.
There is no right or wrong answer here. If you end up deciding that you should not pursue your passion, it will be a great hobby. If you do want to follow your dream path, make sure to think through all the details and logistics to set yourself up for success.
Oh, and one more thing: don’t believe everything you read online.
Except this post of course. 😉