How to make a living doing what you love

Work is an essential part of life. For starters we are judged by our careers. Go to a party sometime and the first thing people ask after an introduction is ‘so what do you do?’ If your job is prestigious they admire you, if it’s lucrative they resent you and if it’s satisfying they respect you a lot. We sometimes hate to get out of bed on a Monday morning but deep down inside we are grateful. Work pays the bills, keeps us busy and gives us a sense of security. Sometimes a false sense of security…

Our ancestors worked hard. Civilisations have been built by bare hardworking hands. Work shouldn’t define us and yet it tells a part of the story. It’s what grown-ups do; what respectable individuals should aspire to. However, nowadays more and more people crave to make a living doing what they genuinely enjoy. It’s not the preserve of singers and dancers only. It’s a birthright. As loving relationships satisfy our desire to be loved, fulfilling work meets the need we all have- the need to express ourselves; to make a difference.

If you’re fed up with meaningless routine, you have the right to forge a different path. For instance, ‘movie stars’ did not really exist until after 1910. Centuries ago actors were one of the most poorly paid professionals on the face of the earth. An actor was the equivalent of a clown, not the sort of person you could take very seriously. A lot of these talented people lived in debt, worked without pay and endured ridicule. Gradually a handful of pioneers began to change our perception of the industry. Although many actors still struggle today, a good number are extremely wealthy. Some have even gone on to become political leaders and entrepreneurs. They influence what we wear, what we eat, how we live.

I’m going to share with you 5 steps to making a living doing work that doesn’t seem like work for the most part. You can take the word ‘starving’ out of starving artist, you can turn any hobby, habit, skill or craft into a decent livelihood. Bored with your day job? You can change that. Perhaps you’ve got children and want flexible work that allows you to be the best parent you can be? Create it. Want some extra income on the side? Go for it. There’s no better motivator than satisfying work. With a bit of courage and these 5 steps, you can have the best of both worlds.

1. Find what makes you tick- On a sheet of paper list your talents, hobbies, unique life experiences, educational background and practical skills. What does your dream career look like? What sort of work would make you truly happy? How can your life experiences, education and practical skills contribute toward creating your desired lifestyle? Thoughtfully write down the answers to these questions. If you require further insight, get some feedback from family and friends as well. Work with what you’ve got. For instance, if you love gardening, consider setting up shop as a florist. If you are a lover of the outdoors and don’t like the idea of being stuck behind the counter, you can do without a shop altogether. How? Invest in land, seeds, gardening equipment and a decent website. Do some marketing- perhaps positioning yourself as an organic farmer who supplies flora straight from the source. When you receive orders via cyberspace, ship the plants off. With proper planning and execution, anything can be achieved.

2. Get refined- When crude oil is drilled out of the earth’s crust is it supplied to gas stations right away? No one shells out their hard earned money to amateurs. Work on your skills so that you can compete with other professionals. Better still, aim to offer the best value to your customers. For instance, if you dream of making a living as a fashion designer, learn from the best in the industry. At the very least, go on a refresher course or practice devotedly.

3. Find a need- Sometimes people assume that there is an instant market for the products and services they offer. Okay, so you really enjoy folk singing or writing poetry. Is there a sizeable demand or at least growing appetite for your craft? If you have faith in your work, press on by all means. The world needs pioneers alright but be prepared to make a lot of sacrifices and accept the fact that change may come in another era. Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings are worth a fortune today but he died a pauper in the year 1890. On the contrary, Picasso lived a life of affluence- perhaps walking a path paved by prior artists. If you plan to pay your mortgage in the mean time, be willing to think outside the box. For instance, greeting card companies are always on the look out for verse; consider supplying lyrics to bespoke card makers whilst you write your literary masterpiece. Are you an aspiring musician? TV and movie studios are always in need of royalty free intro music. Consider catering to such hungry markets whilst you put finishing touches to your debut album.

4. Sell to that need- Take time to study trends and assess potential markets. You don’t want to invest precious time and money crafting a product, only to find out that demand isn’t steady. You want the need (for whatever you plan to sell) to be as regular as your utility bill. One can’t go wrong in the food industry for instance because whatever happens people have to eat. In order to serve their customers, cooks have to buy crockery from the manufacturing industry. People who eat also have to defecate at some point and that’s where toilet roll production comes in. Think strategically. Seek to meet a genuinely pressing need or at least have the ability to convince your target audience that they can’t do without your offering. Again, determine the need and sell to it.

5. Stay focused- Always remember that your primary objective was to ‘make a living doing what you love’. Don’t get so caught up in red tape or profit making that you forget to enjoy yourself. Of course running a business of your own will never be all fun and games but if you are in the right line of work, you should feel passion and fulfilment despite the hassle. Having said that, life is a journey. People grow; circumstances and needs change. Time may come when you have to move on to yet another challenge. We live in the age of diversity and opportunity, don’t be afraid of trying something new but strive for excellence in all that you do.

So that’s it- 5 steps to making your dreams come true. But whilst self help articles make for excellent reading, it’s extremely vital that you ‘take action right away’. Good things no longer come to those who wait around.