Doing what you’re passionate about for a living is a lovely idea. But everyone has bills to pay.

We all know someone who quit their job to pursue their passion and ended up hating what they do because it “became a job” to them.

What happened here?

In their eagerness to do what they loved, they used the passion as a tool to pay their bills.

There’s a very important nuance between being supported from your passion and using your passion to pay your bills.

The latter is dangerous and leads to compromise. Using your passion as a tool is the quickest way to kill the passion. It must be fostered and allowed to grow organically.

Without a solid foundation and something to cover your expenses, you can easily become desperate. When you’re in a place of desperation, you’re more prone to compromising on your passion to pay bills.

Compromise comes in many forms:

  • Compromise on rates
    • Doing cheap projects for less than you’re worth because you’re afraid you may not have money if you don’t land this client.
  • Compromise on the right type of client
    • Taking on someone who you know is a bad fit and is not on board with your process.
  • Compromise on morals/values
    • Working on projects that conflict with your principles or beliefs.

When we jump out too soon like our overeager friend, we create an environment that breeds Scarcity Mindset.

Scarcity Mindset makes us believe that we have to take on the wrong kind of opportunities or else we’ll end up in a bad place. It’s a fear-based mindset.

Taking on the wrong opportunities leads to a vicious cycle and is a dangerous trap. Once you compromise, you continue to do so. Bad clients and bad projects only ever lead to more of the same. In order to break free, you have to start by choosing the right ones.

You may feel like you’re missing an “opportunity” to pursue your passion now, but how many opportunities will you miss in the future after you burned out from starting prematurely?

You’ve got to play the Long Game.

The right kind of energy

Let’s take a step back here. We’ve seen the dangers of jumping out without having a proper foundation in place. How do we prevent that? How do we establish the proper foundation?

In order to define the “proper foundation” we need to define the goal. What’s the goal?

The goal is to protect the passion. You don’t want to kill the passion.

You hear me talk a lot about how the day job is your foundation. The day job has to be in a different industry from your passion.

I’ve been getting this question a lot lately:

“Why does my day job need to be in a different industry?”

How important is this?
Does it really matter?
How different does the industry have to be?

Here’s the answer: Only you can know.

I’m going to tell you exactly how you can know if the industry your day job is in is different enough from your passion industry.

The way you know is if you come home from your day job absolutely bursting at the seams with energy for pursuing what you’re passionate about.

The right day job will charge you for your passion. The wrong one will drain you and deplete the right kind of energy you need.

If you come home with no will to pursue your passion, then you know it’s the wrong day job. The smart thing to do is get a day job in a different industry.

How close is too close?

There’s no hard and fast rule. But the closer you get the more you risk. If you do end up getting a day job within the industry of your passion, you’ll use the same kind of energy there. That’s energy you won’t have for your passion later.

Are you coming home exhausted, or are you coming home super charged up and excited to work on your side projects? That’s how you know.

You have to choose: are you trying to turn your day job into your ideal job? Or you do want to be supported from your passion?

If you spend the same kind of energy at your day job, you become more invested even though the freedom is not there. The day job is the wrong environment for growing your passion organically. Don’t do this unless you want to be stuck in a day job forever. Because even once you recognize it to be a detrimental thing, you will already be paralyzed. Why? Because of a terrible phenomenon known as Golden Handcuffs.

It’s hard. I know it’s hard. You’re itching to do the work you love and that’s why you’re tempted to find a day job that’s partially what you like to do.

If you’re investing the energy you need for your passion at your day job, you will not have enough left over when you get home to succeed.

I beg you, treat the day job purely as a functional piece to this puzzle. The more you invest in trying to conform the day job to what you love, the more you kill the passion.

Please don’t kill the passion.