If you’ve read my blog posts and watched my videos, you know that I talk a great deal about passion and meaning in one’s work, and believe that we’re happiest and most successful when doing work that gives our life meaning.
I hear from thousands of people each year who appreciate these messages and are helped by them. But I also get constant push back from people who insist that following your passion will make you go broke. Truly, I’d be a millionaire if I got a dime for every frustrated and thwarted individual (usually trapped in an unhappy corporate job) who tried to push this idea on me. I’ve seen Forbes posts aplenty about this too. Well, here’s another one, but I’m taking a different tack.
The key message of this post is this: You don’t have to go broke doing meaningful, exciting, passionate work. I haven’t, and thousands of my colleagues doing powerful, passionate work in the world haven’t either. There are many, many examples of people doing fabulous, exciting and impactful work and are making lots of money doing it.
But you will go broke if you don’t handle your professional life and endeavors with wisdom, savvy, courage, flexibility, effective strategies, strong financial planning, and sound advice.
They don’t have a sound strategy.
I’ve lived this – the terrible mistake of thinking “Build It and They Will Come” is a business strategy. It’s not. You can’t leave your corporate job to become a therapist and coach (as I did) without a strong financial plan that will effectively fund your transition. Wishful thinking just doesn’t cut it. You have to understand exactly what doing meaningful work in the way you want to will require of you, your family and your bank account – financially, emotionally, and behaviorally. To make it work, you need a sound, well-developed strategic plan that covers all bases, and that’s been vetted by a few key advisors who really know their stuff about this type of transition and endeavor.
They follow bad advice.
I’ve seen hundreds of people leaving corporate jobs to pursue coaching, only to have to quit two years later because they’ve spent all their money and have no clients or programs to show for it. And often these folks have invested in a coaching training program that promises six figure coaching revenue in the first year. That’s virtually impossible, and the advice I’ve heard from these “fake experts” isn’t good advice, and works for less than one percent of the population, which most likely won’t be you. Don’t follow bad advice that tells you you’ll get rich quick. You won’t, and you’ll lose all your money looking for that quick pot of gold that just won’t come.
They lack true commitment.
People who want to move out of their careers into something more satisfying often don’t realize how long it will take, and how much effort it requires. They think they want to make a difference following their passions, but they can be very lazy and lacking in commitment when the rubber meets the road. If you really want this, you have to work at it, and work hard, and long. But as I’ve said, when you’re doing what you’re passionate about, it doesn’t feel like hard work – it feels exciting, juicy and life-affirming. But you can’t forget that you have to give it your all, for the long haul, and that’s not easy.
They haven’t chosen the right “form” for the “essence” they want.
This is an important concept to grasp if you want to be successful doing passion-filled work. First, you have to figure out the “essence” of what you want – the purpose of the work, the outcomes you want to deliver, the legacy you want to leave, the energy behind it, and the feelings you’ll experience doing it.
Then, you need to identify the right “form” of that work. For instance, just because you love volunteering with kids doesn’t mean you’ll love teaching full-time in a public school. If you love singing (as I do), that doesn’t mean you’ll love earning a living singing at your friends’ weddings or cocktail parties. There are many ways you can be of use in the world using your passions and talents – you need to identify the right form of work, and to do that you must “try on” and explore thoroughly (physically, emotionally and behaviorally) the top three directions that compel you.
They don’t know how to handle money effectively.
Most of us weren’t taught how to manage money well or effectively. In fact, the opposite is true. Many of us learned terribly damaging lessons about money from our childhoods and our families. To be financially successful, you have to love and appreciate money, but not for money’s sake. You have to love it for what it can do and offer in the world, and how you can use it as a tool for the betterment of others. You also need to build an intimate relationship with money, and know just what’s coming in and going out at all times. Many of my clients come to me with utter confusion, vagueness or insecurity about money – they’re afraid or resentful of it. You’ve got to heal your relationship with money to learn how to manage it wisely and to have your money grow to support your passionate work.