How to do what you love even when it doesn’t pay the bills
What do you love to do? Like, that thing you would do if you had a free morning, a day off work, an open weekend, or no commitments at all for a few months. What’s that thing you would do if you were sure that you wouldn’t fail (or look silly along the way)?
No seriously, what is it? You can write it down on a piece of paper and tuck it in to your pocket or you can tweet it out for the whole world to see [tweet tweet]. But think of something specific. (If you think of many things, that’s ok too).
That thing you love to do has gotten a bad wrap. We’re told one of two things about the things we love to do (sometimes both at the same time!). You may have been told that the thing you love to do is a silly, childish dream and should be given up. Or, you may have been told that you need to make a living full-time from what you love to do.
Here’s my proposal: reject both proposals and find happiness.
Corinna Melanie is an avid runner and also a dog trainer. In a former life, she was a singer-songwriter and also part-time nanny. What stands out to me about Corinna is that she carves out ample space for the things that she loves to do while also finding work that pays the bills and feeds her soul. When working as a nanny, she didn’t just listen to lots of music or sing in the church choir once a week… she wrote and produced two albums, one with a band and one on her own, while performing regularly in Boston and New York City. Now Corinna runs her own dog training business while training for and competing in road and trail races. This isn’t a “drag yourself to the gym for 30 minutes on the treadmill” running … this is “I love running and I’m going to be a runner” running.
You might want to make a living from the thing you love to do—I know that’s the case for many of my actor friends—and that’s a great goal too. Regardless of whether you want to make a living from your passion or not though, you can do what you love right now…. today… You don’t have to wait for anyone’s permission.
Doing what we love is harder than we give it credit. We’ve been sold a myth that when you love something you’re filled with inspiration and motivation and it just flows out of your being. That’s crap. When you love something you make time in your schedule for it. You turn down invitations to do other things because of it. You kick and curse and moan and drag yourself out of bed or off the couch to do it. “Doing what you love” will never happy by accident, you always have to make it happen.
That sounds tough but that’s actually good news for you: you are in control.
What can you do right now? Can you write a short story or the first scene in the play you’ve been dreaming up? Can you treat yourself to painting supplies? Can you sign-up for a class to become a yoga/English/pre-school teacher (just one class)? What can you squeeze into your mornings, evenings, and weekends? Or if you’re a bartender now, what can you squeeze into your weekday afternoons?
Shannon T.L. Kearns has always wanted to write and produce a play so he kickstarted a new theatre company and is doing just that… all while working full-time! Matt Kulisch has an MFA in Writing but he’s slowly been building his photography portfolio, shooting models in New York, San Francisco, and Oregon. He didn’t just take them for himself, either. He started a Tumblr to show-off his work, began accepting donations to fund new projects, and recently sold his first print.
You don’t have to wait for your big break to write that book, play an amazing role, or cook delicious food… You just have to start doing. [tweet that!] And not that playing small doing, either. Don’t buy a copy of Rosetta Stone and practice alone in your room, move to Italy and talk with the locals! Don’t write short stories in your journal, self-publish a collection (and hire a professional designer to make the cover look snazzy too… you deserve it!).
What you’ll find is that when you take small actions toward your wild and crazy passions, it matters a little less whether or not it pays the bills because you’re already doing what you love. And, it just so happens that once you start doing, more opportunities come along too.
Photo by francesco ✔