What to do when you want to start doing what you love but you need money now

So you want to start doing what you love but you also need money – you know, for rent and food and similar luxuries. What do you do?

This comes up a lot and the most pressing version of it is when someone has just left their job. The freshly escaped ‘player’ rushes headlong into writing their book or blog or starting an online shop. But as time goes on and little or no money rolls in, they start to panic and lose faith in what they’re doing – perhaps they’re being unrealistic and should go back and beg for their old job?

The next day they read something inspiring and, feeling emboldened, double their commitment to their new line of work… until the mortgage is due and they lose their confidence again.

What’s the solution?

The solution to the panic and flip-flopping is to stop thinking of your choices as either/or.

Start thinking in terms of two tracks running in parallel, at least for a while.

Two tracks by Triviaking http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Twin_track_of_train_rails_in_a_wooded_area.JPGTrack one is the thing that makes you money right now.

It’s something you can win work in fairly quickly (in a few weeks) because you have skills, experience and a proven track record you can point to.

Track two is the thing you love that you might need to learn new skills and establish new contacts in.

So it’s likely to be a while to get to the point you can make money out of it – months rather than weeks. And probably longer than that before it makes enough to completely replace your current source of income.

The less this new work bears in common with your career to date, the longer it is likely to take.

That’s why you need track one to keep you afloat in the meantime. Then you can take that paralysing pressure off yourself.

What does track one look like?

If you’ve already got a job then this could be your track one. You might be keen to get out of the job but unless it’s really terrible (e.g. a toxic working environment / very long hours), you might be surprised how your attitude changes once you see your job as supporting you while you launch your track two on the side. Now rather than being a burden it’s part of your escape plan.

If your job is in danger of burning you out or if you’ve already jumped (or been pushed) then one option is to find what Barbara Sher calls ‘a good enough job’ – something that pays you enough, doesn’t demand excessive hours, and suits you well enough that it doesn’t drive you crazy or leave you drained at the end of the day.

It’s surprising how often people give up on their dream and then get what seems like the worst imaginable job almost as if they are punishing themselves – for instance creative people taking the most mundane office admin jobs. Instead, think of what is the best possible version of your old work and go hunt for that.

Aside from a job you could also try temping, freelancing or contracting in the field you already know.

Once you’ve got that sorted you can turn your attention to starting what you really love on the side. And you’ll be in a much calmer and more creative state of mind when you don’t have to worry how you’ll pay the next month’s rent.

At some point down the line when you’re making good money from your track two you’ll be ready to finally give up track one. Or you might even find an interesting way to merge the two tracks using the best of both.


Has this been helpful to you? What are your two tracks? Leave a comment and let me know…

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