Do you love what you do? When I pose this question to my clients about half say yes and the other half say no. From what I’ve read, the actual number of people who truly enjoy their day job is around 30%, indicating the other 70% are either miserable at work or just plain accepting it. To be fair, not everyone can do exactly what they love. Once you have a family and a mortgage, the ability to take risks with your career and “pursue your passions” can quickly dissipate. Also, once you reach a certain level of job security and income stability, change may take a backseat to sheer survival and maintenance of our current lifestyles. What I envision for an improved work-world would be more people getting fired up to take charge of their destiny and make positive changes in their life.
I believe part of the problem stems from our experiences in high school and college where we learn to “work hard” but not necessarily on things we’re interested in. An attitude of complacency evolves as we get used to working hard on projects we otherwise wouldn’t choose to. The misconception here–what you can avoid if you think outside the box–is that working can’t coincide with passion. Not only that, you’ll probably earn more money and be happier if you find something you genuinely enjoy doing.
My thought process regarding work serves as a good example of how I believe others should think as well. I fully acknowledge my passion for real estate and finance. I derive tremendous pleasure from looking at mansions, observing architecture, and speculating about the endless number of ways the inhabitants may have gained enough money to comfortably afford to live inside. As a result, I started my career as an assistant at a real estate brokerage firm, showing pricey homes to deep-pocketed buyers. This allowed me to surround myself with money and real estate. Shortly after working there, I came to realize that the financing aspect of buying real estate was equally interesting to me. Ultimately, I ended up working at an asset management firm, advising people on how to save and invest money, and finance real estate purchases. The process of adapting my passions into a career was very linear albeit somewhat accidental that I ended up where I did and when. The result has been greater success and happiness at a young age–something, unfortunately, not all of my friends and family can relate to.
The ways in which higher earnings follow job enjoyment are very natural. You’ll actually want to work more hours, perhaps 9-9, if you’re having a good time. It’s sort of like playing a video game which you don’t want to shut off. You end up working harder and accomplishing more because you’re interested. You may also notice that your knowledge and interest of peripheral topics improves as well. For example, my passion for money management has led me to learn about estate planning and insurance as well. This will ultimately help me earn more money, as I am able to advise clients on a broader scope of topics.
So what steps can you take now? First, give it some real thought. I wouldn’t recommend quitting your job and becoming a pro wrestler tomorrow simply because you’re passionate about it. Having a plan and executing it slowly and carefully will surely make the process easier. If you ultimately decide to transition out of the corporate lifestyle and work for yourself, you may find that your investments are coming out of stocks and bonds and into your own business. In my eyes, this is your best shot at “total return.” Why? You have complete control. If you get your business up and running, the money should follow. If you aren’t careful and spend irresponsibly, you could lose money.
Also, it never hurts to think about your list of contacts. People don’t do this often enough and it can really provide some motivation. When my book came out last month, I had to think carefully about anyone who could help boost sales. I contacted friends who work at all sorts of places, including PR firms, book stores, and publishers. Plenty of my friends were able to offer advice which, even if it didn’t directly earn me money, it certainly saved me some. When you’re looking to switch careers, consider who may work within that field, or may know somebody who works in that field, or may have some advice about jumping ships and how to stay focused.
Finally, don’t get discouraged. I’m a fairly young guy, but I could talk for hours about any number of distractions, obstacles and people who have clouded my vision. I’ve learned that if you’re tirelessly committed to your goals, they are much more likely to happen. Some people will help you out, offering advice, money and time to watch you realize a dream–others may try to bring you down, usually out of jealousy or resentment. Focus on the positive, not the negative.
For me, I need to constantly remind myself of the amazement I felt as a child admiring a mansion. If I can stay focused enough on my goals, eventually I will monetize my passions enough to succeed. The best part, hopefully, will be the journey getting there.
Please e-mail me with thoughts and comments.
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