I hear this refrain every so often that I have been thinking about in more depth and wanted to explore and discuss.
“I don’t want to ruin my love for X by turning it into work.”
Usually, the individual is talking about developing an entrepreneurial endeavor or getting a job in the thing that they love and they are usually adamantly against it – feeling that if they pursue it, it will take the joy out of that activity for them completely and the love for it will be gone.
What I find interesting around this dilemma is that they clearly have a passion for it so much so that they have spent countless hours working toward some type of expertise. So, immediately it’s clear to me that there is a commitment and a focus on developing their skill, knowledge base, network, familiarity with the professional landscape (i.e., they know a lot of the key players and what has made them successful). I often notice another correlation which is that their current profession is usually not their driving passion and they often seem to buy into the notion that work is meant to be unpleasant.
I have never bought into that Mark Twain quote that I see everywhere –
“Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
ALL WORK has some drudgery connected to it – no matter what. There are days, no matter how much you love the substance of your work, that you are WORKING. It’s usually about the ability to minimize the impact of that drudgery on the aspect of the work that you love.
But there is a deep, almost paralyzing, fear that affects how some people perceive their ability to maintain their devotion, commitment and connection to a passion when they enter into the field’s professional arena. Often times, it relates to the pressure of having to make money at the passion, and not being able to choose their own schedule around performing the task. The other piece seems to be related to the unfortunate parts of it that may be involved with the business aspects of the field (e.g., administrative aspects, financial reporting, etc.)
It often seems like such a shame when there is clearly a drive to be involved in the field in a more in-depth way, to not explore the possibility. So, I am often left thinking about the ways in which you can experiment with, dip your toe in testing your hypothesis that you will lose your passion for it, if you professionalize this passion.
Here are some of the ways you might want to consider experimenting with workifying your passion:
Create a MVI.
You hear all the time about the Minimum Viable Product, but you want to think about the Minimum Viable Involvement in the professionalization of your passion. You want to consider a level of involvement that would give you an honest assessment of what it would be like to commit to it in a greater way. So, if your love is a crafting endeavor, where can you attempt to sell your product in a low key way (e.g., crafts fair, church bazaar, flea market), before you consider all the details that might go into a full blown Etsy shop?
Identify the areas you are afraid of or that kill the joy.
I never think it’s a good idea to not know and understand parts of a business or a career that you are uncomfortable with, bu if you can identify them, you can notice trends or patterns in them that help you to get a deeper understanding of what bugs you about them. For example, if you notice that what has you concerned are financial tasks and you have felt insecure about numbers, you may want to consider learning them in some basic and top level way.
Consider hiring or getting free help in those kill-joy areas.
There may be very easy ways to do this that you may not recognize. You might have a family member, who is an accountant and will take on the basic bookkeeping for you or teach you simple ways to manage it. Consider who in your network has these skills, and you could hire them for a nominal fee or they may do it for free.
Give yourself some time.
Give yourself a decent amount of time to determine if it works for you or not (e.g., 3-6 months). Block time out of your schedule to devote to your new effort, like you would anyway, but with a little more deliberateness. However, give yourself some time to play with it as well, which will help you to feel freedom in it.
Evaluate consistently and document how you feel.
Find a way to regularly assess how you are feeling about taking your passion into a professional arena. There are ups and downs in any endeavor, even if it’s a hobby or extracurricular activity. I hear golfers all the time talk about their slumps and frustration with their performance. All of that is normal. You just want to check with yourself if there has been any change in your general enjoyment of the activity, and do it consistently over time, so that you don’t let a momentary difficult moment be generalized over everything.
When you are passionate about something and have been considering taking it to the next level, consider it by exposing yourself in small, low-risk doses that let you step back or dive in depending on what you find.