Passion is a funny thing. It keeps you up at night and sparks something deep inside you. It inspires you to try and change the world, or at least make your little corner a bit better.
Your frustrations often reveal your passions. So many people talk about how great it would be if they could just quit their day job and pursue their passion of starting a business, writing a book or launching a blog full-time. But that’s all it is, talk. To those people, I say: Stop talking about it and do something. Turn your passion into your career.
Do something. Read the top 10 books on the subject. Personally interview a minimum of five people who are already in that industry. Buy the domain name. Write the blog. Put your money, time and energy where your mouth is. You do not have to quit your day job—and you shouldn’t, not until your side project generates enough income for you to do so safely.
The bottom line is that you must act if you want to change. You have to choose to do something different. You have to move. Action frees you from the broken cycle of daydreaming about what you want to do.
2. Count the cost of turning your passion into a career.
Here are a few great questions that can help you get some clarity:
Does the world need this?
In other words, “What is the problem I am trying to solve?” This is the ‘why’ Simon Sinek so famously articulated matters most. Clearly defining the purpose behind what you’re creating is critical for you to be able to go all in, and for others to buy in to what you are doing.
Am I any good at this?
Chances are you would not be considering this new venture if you were getting to use your gifts, strengths and talents in your current job or life situation. We are all wired to create. Every single human being on the planet has genius in them. The question you have to ask yourself is, “Am I naturally gifted in this area?”
Can I afford to turn my passion into my career?
Surprisingly, this is not primarily a money question (although cash is extremely important). You also have to take into consideration the investment of your time, energy, space and any other resources you will need along the way. Take a hard look at your current commitments and be realistic about how much time you actually have to invest in your passion project.
Does my family support me turning my passion into a career?
Regardless of how you define family, you need a handful of people who believe in you and are there for you. Find mentors and friends who are honest with you and who can draw out the best in you as you pursue turning your dream into reality. These are the voices who will help you get up when you fall, encourage you when you lose heart and be there to celebrate your success when you achieve your goal.
Am I likely to quit?
Failure is guaranteed in the early stages of any new venture. No matter how well-funded, prepared and educated you might be, at the end of the day you have to have a burning desire to persevere. You have to have resilience, grit and a take-no-prisoners level of passion to see this thing through.
3. Find your people.
This is also known as identifying your target market. Who specifically will benefit from your passion project? What do they look like? Where do they live? What are the biggest challenges they are facing? How can your idea help make their lives better?
These are your potential customers, so you need to have a clear picture of their greatest needs, hurts and interests. Chances are they are passionate about the same things you are. A great thing to do at this point in pursuing your passion is to interview your target market (use social media polls, etc.) to get a clear understanding of who they are and what they want.
4. Create a checklist with specific deadlines to turn your passion into a career.
You have to measure your progress and clarify your goals. Create a routine and dedicate time to invest in making your idea a reality. You will need accountability, clarity and encouragement along the way. Asking for help in this is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength and wisdom.
5. Be prepared to embrace failure along the way.
Fail early and fail often. Failure is the stepping stone to learning, growth, refinement of your thinking and eventually (with a bit of luck) success. Dedicate yourself to excellence in effort and in how you lead yourself. Do not be afraid to be yourself, ask for help or head in a different direction based on what doesn’t work. Failure is feedback. Take it on board, pick yourself up and try again based on what you have learned.
Self-belief is an important factor for tapping into your full potential in this life. Confidence literally means “a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances.” At the end of the day, if you are going to do something unique and remarkable, you have to be yourself. And in order to be yourself, you have to trust yourself. There is only one you—your voice is needed. Your passion can and should be your profession. It is why you are here.
This article was published in August 2016 and has been updated. Photo by bluedog studio/Shutterstock
Steve Knox is the founder of imprinttest.com, a leadership coach and author. For the past 12 years, he's helped people all over the planet discover a different way to live and work. His latest book, Confidence: The Science & Art of Self-Belief, is available online and in major bookstores.