It’s not a single step, it’s a long journey
I often think about some words the self-help industry keeps on regurgitating: passion, life’s purpose, hobby.
What is the difference between the three?
Can every person make money from their passion? Or are only a select few privileged enough to turn their dreams into reality? What about those who haven’t found their “passion” yet?
I also wonder a lot about the process of turning your passion into an income stream: is it different for everyone or are there some distinct steps every person can apply?
What follows is an opinion piece based on my experience. I’ve been writing all my life. My first poem was published when I was only four years old. But only in my late 20s, did I find a way to turn my passion into a sustainable income source.
The post distinguishes passion from hobby and lays out some steps to convert your passion into money. It also raises an important question: does a person find their passion only once or is the search for meaning a lifelong quest?
“Passion” vs “Hobby”
If you’re frustrated with how causally the self-help gurus throw the word “passion” around, maybe it’s because you haven’t found your passion yet. Or even if you have, you aren’t sure if and how it can be monetized.
Maybe you have a hobby of reading books, watching movies, or playing video games, but you cannot always earn money doing these things.
Before we talk about making money, it’s important to distinguish between passion and hobby.
From what I’ve learned, a hobby is something you do for pleasure. Your passion fills you up with fire. The desire to see it (and yourself) succeed burns so bright, you can barely sleep at night. You love doing it so much, you enter into the flow state (Zen mode?) and you just lose track of time.
I don’t know if hobbies can be monetized. But your passion definitely can. Before aiming to become insanely successful or rich, it’s important to ask yourself if you’re ready to make certain sacrifices the next section discusses.
Your passion fills you up with fire. The desire to see it (and yourself) succeed burns so bright, you can barely sleep at night.
Why Is It Necessary to Follow Your Passion
Let me ask you a question: what’s the purpose of your life?
Is it to make a ton of money and buy everything that excites you? Or is it to help other people, while getting fame and recognition for your hard work?
Whatever it is, you won’t be happy if you don’t satisfy your inner soul. The only way to do that is to do something that you really enjoy doing.
The world will seem sane, time will stop, and you will turn deaf to all the negativity around you when you work on your passion. Its pursuit will fulfill your soul like nothing else.
And that’s why it’s so important to pursue your passion. It’s not just something you do on the side, it’s how you live your life. Your passion is the purpose you create for yourself in this world.
When you follow your passion, you create something unique no one else can replicate. This world deserves to see your unique brand of magic. If you aren’t following your passion, you are doing injustice not just to yourself, but also to this world.
This again raises an important question:
Does everyone have the luxury to follow their passion?
Of course, not everyone will have the same privilege. As unfair as this sounds, there are some prerequisites to chasing your dream life.
A person who works from paycheck to paycheck, has a family to take care of, and has debts to pay off can’t devote all their free time to working on something they really love doing.
When you’re stuck in such a situation, all you can do is to get to a position where people around you are not as dependent on you. Work on your current situation and try to save money so that you have enough financial resources to buy yourself some time and freedom.
Another aspect that makes you lucky is that following your passion doesn’t need any monetary investment. Someone with a passion for photography might not be able to start immediately if they have no phone or camera to click pictures, but someone with the passion to write can start right away. All they need is a computer and an internet connection. Even sending hand-written stories and poems to magazines and newspapers can be a start.
If these prerequisites are met, you can safely move to the next section where we tackle the burning question: how to find your passion?
Your passion is not just something you do on the side, it’s how you live your life. Your passion is the purpose you create for yourself in this world.
How To Find Your Passion
There’s no well-structured path when it comes to finding your passion. It comes through constant experimentation.
The more you explore, the more you know the possibilities that exist in this world, and the more you increase your chances of finding something that sets your heart on fire.
If you stop exploring and say, “I have no passion,” of course you won’t magically find it. You have to learn to try, explore, and create your passion for yourself.
This is similar to the Law of large numbers which states that when the sampling size is big enough, you’ll start getting certain and expected results.
Obviously, the quest for your passion is going to take you a while. And it can be a very helpful excuse for that critical voice inside your head to not let you go through the process. But you have to shut that voice down and let this short-term discomfort happen to you for the sake of long-term fulfillment.
Remember: No one will hand your passion to you. It’s you who has to actively search for it until you find it.
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
— Steve Jobs
Once you do, you can follow the steps given in the next section to turn your passion into an income stream.
No one will hand your passion to you. You have to actively search for it until you find it.
How To Convert Your Passion into a Money Generating Machine
If you are not able to monetize your passion, you won’t be able to pursue it full-time, and would always need to depend on some additional monetary sources to sponsor your passion.
It will also create a huge emotional burden because you’d need to do things you don’t like to be able to do the things you like.
It’s very important to come out of this negative emotional trap and earn money from your passion because only then you can do it full time and live independently. Here are the important elements required to turn passion into something that makes you $$$:
1. Identify if you are willing to do it for free
When you start, your work won’t have the quality someone would want to pay for. So, to practice and to create your own portfolio, start doing things for free. Do it for a while until you get enough practice that helps you do quality work.
2. Find a way to get validation from others
This means posting on the internet, getting comments from strangers, and analyzing the feedback from friends, etc. The more validation you get, the more dedication you’ll feel and the more incentive you’ll have to keep getting better.
While you are seeking validation and “building in public,” you can also attract potential clients.
3. Put yourself out there
You have to get out of your comfort zone and attempt things you’ve never done. Things like reaching out to potential clients, going into meetings or events, talking to random people in a conference, doing public speaking, etc. will give you exposure and also prepare you for the business world.
When you find your passion and carve out a path to follow it, just never give up. Keep doing it for the love of doing it, and you will get to the stage where you can easily monetize your passion.
But for that to happen, you need to start. Start today!
Working on your passion is a powerful way to satisfy your soul and be happy in the long term. But not everybody has the luxury to follow what their soul wants, either due to family responsibilities or because of monetary investment. If you meet these prerequisites, well, lucky you.
Start seeking where your interest lies by exploring different avenues. It will take you some time to find it, but the journey will be worth it.
Once you find something you like, do it for free for a while so you can get better by continuous practice. This will also create your portfolio, make you “client-ready,” and start earning money.
I want to leave you with a thought to ponder on: most people don’t have just ONE passion. If you keep trying new things, you may meet your passion many times over, and each meeting will fill your heart with fire.
It will make life seem more interesting, give you a reason to keep getting better at it, and help you wake up each morning with much to look forward to.
Of course, you’ll also eventually earn money, but that’s just an unexpected side-benefit of doing what you truly love.
If you keep trying new things, you may meet your passion many times over, and each meeting will fill your heart with fire.