Is Following Your Passion Leaving You Broke?

Being passionate about what you do can often be a Catch-22; it can help drive you toward your goals, but it can also blind you to the realistic side of an industry that can actually help you generate some income. J. Maureen Henderson points out in a recent Forbes column that she actually likes that she doesn't sound passionate about her writing: she wants to leave her mind open to the possibilities of the industry and not close herself off to only writing about the subjects she is passionate about. This, she says, would hinder her ability to make money.

"Blessed are those who swoon at the thought of tax accounting or petroleum engineering, for they will be well-compensated for their love," Henderson writes. "If, however, the activity that makes your heart swell is less practical and econominally in demand, there's a very real chance that you won't be able to make a viable living from it."

There is also an unsaid assumption among potential clients and employers that says if you love what you do, then you must love it so much that you would continue doing it even if you weren't getting paid. While this might be true to some extent (keeping your passion as a personal hobby), that doesn't mean you shouldn't charge for your services. Charge clients for your creative skills the same as any developer or plumber would.

The unfortunate truth is that few people get to live out their passions the way they hope. However, we can't all be Grammy-winning musicians or New York Times best-selling authors. This truth might leave a bitter taste in your mouth, but the faster you get over the resentment, the quicker you'll be able to use your skills to make money. Henderson writes that the issue of making a living is actually a problem with a viable solution. We know the problem, but it's how you choose to solve it that counts.

Have you had to compromise your passion to make a living?

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