The Honest Truth About What It Takes to Make A Good Living Doing What You Love
The hard reality about ‘doing what you love’ is that it isn’t always possible, but that’s ok. It can be a dangerous route to depend on your passions to make a good living, put food on the table and pay the bills. If you accept that you won’t always be doing what you are passionate about, your relationship with your career path could become healthier and fuelled with motivation.
No Strings Attached
Most people associate dream jobs within the creative sector, such as musician or writer. The creative industry is a highly competitive and stimulating environment, filled with passionate people who love what they do. However, it is not always easy to find emotional and financial reward if you are too attached to your profession. Your creative services are valued, not by how much you love it, but what how it is utilised for others. The more you form an emotional attachment to your work, the more you will become too personally involved when it is paid for or criticised.
Everyone says that a writer needs a thick skin or ‘if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen’. These phrases are born out of tough experiences between creator and customer. Creative work will always experience the gaze of the public one way or another. Learn to keep your sensitivity to a minimum and view your work objectively. For many situations, your own vision becomes secondary to the editors, directors, and managers who are the ones receiving and hiring your skill set. If you reject opportunities all too often because ‘they didn’t see it your way’, then you could be leading yourself on an unstable and dissatisfying career trajectory.
Craft, Not Dream
Rather than ‘selling your soul’, think less about the appreciation of others and more of the skills and craftsmanship involved. The trick is the find a realistic price for your abilities and aim to develop this. You can only evaluate through experience good and bad. For example, if you are a graphic designer, think how your specific experiences and skill set are applied to the price of the role or project, rather than whether this has been your childhood dream.
Cal Newport’s influential career advice book So Good They Can’t Ignore You claims that following what you are passionate about as a career path is ultimately delusional and risky. He urges his readers to concentrate instead on cultivating highly valuable skills, so that you can stand at the top of your field and be highly sought after. Passion develops over time and can be thought of in practical terms. Your happiness and satisfaction in your current job are also related to how much control you have in that role.
Practice to Be Practical
Just because you love it doesn’t mean you are good at it. Each skill set, especially creative ones, need to be improved. Think of it as a muscle; the more you exercise it, the stronger, enduring and flexible it will be. Better than a muscle, creativity is not exhaustive and becomes more powerful the longer you work at it. The downfall to creative skills is to think of them as unique talents that require a spark of inspiration or muse. Creativity needs training and practice just as much as accounting, languages, and coding. Laziness is the biggest enemy to writers, artists, and other creators, heavily disguised as ‘writer’s block’. Consider writing things outside your subject matters, draw every day or think hard about new artistic concepts in your spare time. These may not be things you are passionate about, but they contribute to the larger picture of your overall profile. You are not ‘selling out’, but gathering more abilities, industry intel and experience. Quality and consistency of production are valued higher than one-trick gifts.
Passion and inspiration are no doubt crucial factors to starting a dream job, but it needs hard work and determination to finish it.
Think of the other P’s:
Love and passion are not enough; you need to be better.
Work is Work
Work will always be hard work at the end of the day. Most people think that a dream job means automatic production and relaxation. When you are working to make a good living, there will the parts that are not fun, magical or life-affirming. As mentioned, purpose and productivity are needed to push through what passion had initiated. Resilience to conquer any struggle is key to surviving past the first phase of passion. Having a reason and logic behind your interests will lead to more fulfillment. When your skills continue to develop you will have more freedom over your role and better satisfaction.