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Help! My Passion Isn't Profitable - Now What?

Portrait of black business woman shaking hands
You hear it all the time: If you want to make a living doing work you love, you need to follow your passion. But what if your passion leads to a dead end?

Not everyone's passion leads directly to profit. You may be passionate about painting, horses or newspaper journalism, but it can be difficult to make a living in these fields. (I know a bit about that last one.) "Do what you love, and the money will follow" can be misleading advice. Sometimes, you do what you love, and tumbleweeds roll through your bank account.

Does that mean you should scrap your passion altogether and settle for a life of punching the clock for a job you hate? Absolutely not! You just need to get a little creative. Here's how:

Don't Get Tunnel Vision

The trouble with "following your passion" is it's a very narrow way to look at your career options. If you rule out everything except for your singular passion, things will look pretty bleak it that passion doesn't pan out. But we humans are a lot more complex than that, and our career choices are, too.

Sure, you may be head-over-heels in love with painting. But is painting the only thing that brings you joy? Chances are you have other interests, and once you start thinking about them, new paths can open up to you.

Maybe you also enjoy being around people and making a difference -- could you become an art therapy director for a hospital or medical center? Maybe you love children -- could you become an art teacher or work as an arts and crafts coordinator for a day camp? Or maybe you have interests that are unrelated to your main passion. You might adore animals and realize you can take a job working for a doggie day care while pursuing your painting in your off-hours.

Consider all your interests, and you'll find you've got a lot more options than you originally thought.

Look for Related Fields

Take a look at the underlying qualities of your passion and consider more in-demand fields that share those same qualities. If you haven't been able to make a way for yourself in newspaper journalism, your writing skills could be put to use online in a field like copy writing or blogging. These are rapidly growing areas with a ton of potential for growth.

Or maybe what excites you about journalism is the ability to talk to people and dig deep to uncover a story. These interests could translate to everything from running a podcast to helping people identify their hidden desires as a business coach. Think outside the box you've placed yourself in and look for other ways you can apply the skills and interests that make you love your passion.

Let Your Passion Find You

Passion doesn't always precede action. Sometimes, you don't follow your muse straight into a career path -- you follow a career path, and it winds up leading you to your muse.

The more you invest yourself in your work -- learning more about it, getting better at it, making it your own -- the more excited you become about it. No one ever told their parents they wanted to deal with hedge funds or quantum physics when they grew up (at least, not that I know of). Instead, people are drawn to certain things, whether it's a subject area like science or a pursuit like "getting to the bottom of things." The more time they spend in these areas, the more passionate they become about the specifics. So if something is calling to you, go down that path and see where it leads. The results may surprise you.

Paula Pant ditched her 9-to-5 job in 2008. She's traveled to 30 countries, owns six rental units and runs a business from her laptop. Her blog, Afford Anything, is a gathering spot for rebels who refuse to say, "I can't afford it." Visit Afford Anything to learn how to shatter limits, build wealth and live life on your own terms.

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Thankfully my son's passion is finance :D

May 09 2014 at 11:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
welcome timothy

I thought following a passion in medicine would work out. I love what I do, but 10 years into practice I have very little if any savings, I still owe about 150K in student loan debt, I have about 50K in credit card debt, I am single never married, and have lived in a one bedroom apartment ever since college. I buy clothing once every 7 years and buy shoes once every 3 years, I live on maybe $25 to$50/ week food budget. I don't own a TV and could never afford the cable that goes with it. I don't own a land line telephone service. How does everyone else get buy???

May 09 2014 at 10:19 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

If you are the BEST at what you do. 99.9% you will be fine.

May 09 2014 at 6:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

watch that link in last messgge everybody

May 09 2014 at 4:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

its not remembering what they want to say but were TOLD to say

May 09 2014 at 4:03 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are entering the beginnig stages of dementia. You can tell when they speak and their eyes keep wandering up in the air like they are trying to remember what they want to say. Some of the things they say also defy logical thinking.

May 09 2014 at 3:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Democrats follow their passion, don't work and sign up for tons of Government freebies.

May 09 2014 at 3:31 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply