Practical Path: From Passion To Profession

Not everyone knows what they’re called to do. Not many know their purpose.

I am lucky in that regard - I know I am called to help.

It excites me to see others set goals, improve, progress, and eventually achieve that goal.

I cannot get enough of making a difference.

In fact, when I was 18, several of my teachers made a slideshow comparing a certain portion of our graduating class to celebrities that best depicted each of our future careers. My friend was the female Bill Gates due to her technological skills, another was compared to a famous actress. Me? Mother Teresa.

I was flattered to say the least; however, it made me think about my chosen field of altruism. How do I create a career out of this? Am I destined to be broke? Should I take on a career I hate just so I can fund my philanthropic goals?

As an adult I’ve adjusted this thinking to, “How can anyone unearth and live their passion?”

First, how do you find your passion? How do you find what drives you?

Try this exercise:

  • Close your eyes;

  • Imagine what's welcoming you home from work is a litany of chores: the dog needs to be taken out; there are dishes in the sink; you need to cook dinner and prep tomorrow’s meals for work; and if you have kids or a spouse, then they deserve your attention, too;

  • Imagine completing all of those tasks but now it’s 9:30pm. On a Tuesday. You have to work tomorrow as well and today is set to repeat;

  • Now, instead of tuning out, ask yourself: If I could do anything right now, what would it be? (If you answer, “taking care of me”, then good for you! You’re practicing self care! But I dare you to dive deeper!)

  • What was your answer? What drives you to burn that midnight oil? What would cause you to get up and say, “Oh yeah I need to finish that!”? What makes you forget to sleep or eat?

That’s your passion.

My answer to that is always finding solutions to help others (not because I’m so great but because even if the world was falling down around me, as it often has in the past, I’m excited and uplifted by helping other people). It's how I'm wired.

My late father astutely described it as, ”It’s as if you literally cannot do anything else.”

It’s important to note passions can be seasonal. Right now it could be your kids. It could be a career you fell backwards into. That’s OK. This article, though, will address our lifelong passions - the ones we follow in spite of an unintentional career or other obligations.

If you can’t answer the question to, “what drives you?”, that’s OK! It will come. However, do not answer, “I don’t know”. You do know you just don’t know right now. The brain naturally wants to answer itself (which is why a lot of us are “know-it-alls”), we’re natural problem solvers. So, instead of saying, “I don’t know,” say, “The answer is coming,” or, “I am open to discovering what my passion is”, and watch how your life changes.

For those of you who want to keep your passions as your hobby, kudos to you! I wish I could do that, alas, I cannot! Let this be a lesson to those of you who are still seeking what drives you: when you find it, you may not want to do anything else, so prepare yourself for that inevitable reality.

Next, for those of you seeking to transition your passion from a hobby to a career, please read on.

Like all careers, you’ll need experience, education, natural ability, or all three to start. Most of all, you’ll need a willingness to do what it takes to accomplish your dream . . . although, if this is your passion, you’re likely already equipped with an undying willingness.

There are several ways to approach developing your hobby into a career but here is a generic road map for most of you:

  1. Define your purpose;

  2. Define your end goals/your ultimate dream (this article assumes one of your goals is to become independent within your profession - to do it full time without outside help);

  3. Decide: Is someone else doing what you want to do and can you work for them, or, do you need to be an entrepreneur?

  4. If it’s a career track: Obtain the education/experience necessary & apply;

  5. If entrepreneurial: Create a general guide of milestones that will get you from where you are today to where you want to be;

  6. Assess what is needed to start this new career;

  7. Take stock of your resources - time, networking circles, money;

  8. Determine your first feasible milestone. Define it. Estimate what’s needed to see it to fruition (be as detailed and well thought out as possible);

  9. Upon completion of step 8, debrief yourself - what went right, what could have gone better, what feedback did you get, what will you do different next time?

  10. Repeat for your next milestone (Accomplish & Repeat)

As you’re faithful to this process, you will eventually have your passion as a career. Fair warning: you may experience times of doubt, or hurdles, due to ability, time, and fear.

Be prepared for hurdles. Push through them.

Hurdle #1: Ability. Running a successful operation can, at times, have nothing to do with your passion even though the steps are necessary to become independent (i.e. formatting & publishing a book have nothing to do with writing a novel). When you are faced with an ability hurdle, remember why you’re doing this in the first place. For example, if you’re pursuing a formal education to accomplish your goals you might find a particular subject especially taxing. When you’re making crocheted dolls like my sister does (, you could come across distribution challenges. Yes, you have to take that class and do well; yes, the distributor decision is taking away from your crafting; and yes, creating my website took me away from coaching. If you feel you don’t have the skills necessary to complete your next milestone then reach out to a friend or even a paid expert. There’s no shame in not doing everything yourself when the end result is the same.

Hurdle #2: Time. Your passion could take time to even be made known to you, more time to develop, and even more time to launch. For instance, you may have to work where the job seemingly has nothing to do with your dream. Find the gold within every employment opportunity and work your goals on the side. These experiences can be very useful and financially beneficial.

Hurdle #3: Fear. Many people allow fear to creep into their goals. If we allow it to fear can create doubt. We can doubt we have anything to offer or the pursuit's worthiness. We can doubt we'll ever achieve success. We can doubt our actual measured success - that it will never happen again. We can let fear in, or we can hear it, see if it's practical advice, and then move on. When you're fearing following your dreams - what is it that you fear? Hint: Literally everyone who ventures out beyond the norm fear falling flat on their face. This is your mind, and possibly body, letting you know to prepare.

I would go one step further, don't only prepare, but prepare, problem-solve, and pursue. For example, you might prepare for the possibility of not having your bills paid for a year and problem-solve by stockpiling or deciding to work until you're able to survive without a safety net, but never stop pursuing your passion as a profession!

To start today:

Discover your passion. Already know your passion? Move on:

Make a road map that defines your starting point and end goal; Move on:

Create a detailed list of how you’re going to accomplish your first milestone. Move on:

Work on your next milestone and network/promote like crazy!