Doing what you love for a living can be rewarding, but it’s not always the best decision. As we mention in a previous blog post entitled ‘Follow Your Passion Is Really Bad Career Advice’, choosing work that aligns with your interests can be pretty difficult. If there’s only a small available market for your target niche, you might not be able to sustain yourself financially, which can lead to burnout. Bad work experiences might even sour your perspective career, especially if you’re emotionally attached to what you do.
Still, it’s possible to make your passions work as a career. You just need to be pragmatic about it. By asking yourself these few questions, you can determine whether you should pursue a career that aligns with what you love.
Do you enjoy the process?
What about your passion do you enjoy? Is it the process, or the results? This is an important distinction to make. When turning your passion into a career, you might come across tasks that are unrelated to your interests. For example, a professional illustrator won’t just have to draw. They’ll also have to network, build relationships with employers and clients, or even strengthen their social media presence to attract new leads. And when they’re drawing, they won’t always get opportunities to draw what they enjoy drawing. Your work won’t be sustainable if you don’t enjoy, or at least tolerate, all the processes involved.
Can you manage the workload?
Hobbies are a respite from obligations. If you tie your passions to your responsibilities, you may end up associating them with stress. A baker might enjoy making cakes to unwind, but if she has to complete customer orders on tight deadlines on a daily basis, the activity might not be as relaxing.
Of course there are always ways to make work more manageable, especially if you work in fields where in-person contact is no longer a necessity. Social workers in Florida have the option to work remotely, which can reduce small stresses, such as daily commutes. The virtual care company Wheel developed a system that connects licensed clinical social workers to remote care opportunities that align with their schedules. This allows them to design manageable daily routines. However, if your field doesn’t let you work at your desired pace, you may end up burning out.
Can the work sustain you financially?
Passion and paycheck aren’t always diametrically opposed. There are a lucky few who can make a good living out of what they love doing. Physicians, for example, can make as much as $340,000 in states like Alabama and Kentucky. Even the lowest-paid doctors make six-figure salaries yearly, with pediatricians and family medicine practitioners earning upwards of $200,000.
However, not all passions are in-demand. If there’s no market for what you love doing, you may struggle to find work or clients. In these cases, the stress of making ends meet might outweigh your enjoyment of your chosen profession.
Can you find a compromise?
There might be ways you can make money doing what you love without turning it into a career. For example, you can discuss topics you enjoy on YouTube. Thanks to services like the YouTube partner program, successful YouTube channels can make money off of their videos. The program lets users take shares of the ad revenue their videos generate.
Freelancing is also an option. Rather than pursuing your passion full-time, you can use websites like UpWork and Fiverr to find side projects that allow you to put your passions to practice. This way, you can use your passions to earn money and develop your skills, but your livelihood won’t be entirely dependent on them.
Sometimes, passions are better left as hobbies. When you turn your passion into a career, you will be forced to engage with the things you love on the terms of your customers, clients, and employers. Additionally, tying your interest to your livelihood can diminish your enjoyment of it. However, if your passion can sustain your ideal lifestyle, and you can see yourself managing the workload and enjoying the process for the long term, then it might make for a viable career.