For this week's Monday Motivation, I'm weighing in on one of the hottest topics online these days: Should you quit your day job to "do you what you love?" I don't think there's one answer for everyone in every situation. My take on it is that, it's a privilege afforded to those who can absorb the financial sacrifice involved and cope with the stress of the uncertainty that comes with it, but it's one you should absolutely avail of if you have something more meaningful to contribute to the world.
Now, assuming you can afford to make the leap to quit your day job and what you do has the potential to create value for others... Should you do it already? I can't tell you definitively, but I can tell you a story.
I was at a meetup not long ago where someone asked me how to break into the film and video industry. In thinking of a response to this question, it dawned on me that how I ended up being able to apprentice and then work on large film and commercial projects, ultimately leading to making a living in the local industry, was the result of many, many things over a span of at least five years, with the right circumstances coupling with talent, work, connections, and luck.
Which is all to say: breaking into these fields, whether the conventional industry or getting noticed online, takes time. It is slow, uncertain, and requires a lot of work. The Universe isn't going to reward you overnight just for deciding you want something more out of your life. That is earned, not given.
But is it possible? Yes, if you want it bad enough. Which brings me to what I finally answered to the question, which is another question:
Would you be willing to do this even if you weren't getting paid for it?
Because if you aren't, then don't bother.
At least, don't bother yet. I'm aware of the paradox of this statement, but it's a way of illustrating the kind of passion and commitment that's required to persevere long enough for you to turn your chosen vocation into a viable livelihood. It's that Burning Desire they keep mentioning in Think and Grow Rich. You want to make money in photography, film, painting, poetry, or whatever your art is? The way I see it, you have want it so badly that you feel almost as if you have no other choice but to make the damn thing work, no matter how long it takes.
You need to be willing to practice consistently, invest in your education, and usually do real work for little to no money while building your name and upping your game, so you can learn the ropes and make your mistakes while the stakes are still low. The fastest paycheck is rarely the wisest long-term move, so it's hard to do what's right for you if money is your #1 concern. What's "right," in my own experience, is that which opens the most doors in the direction you want to go.
Basically, you have to want to spend the majority of your waking hours doing it regardless of whether you're getting paid or not. That's how you get good, and that's what gets noticed in this day and age --- passion. In fact, to persevere, you have to be so committed that you actually enjoy the process, not just for where it's taking you, because there's no way to predict where you'll end up. If you stick to it long enough, there's a decent chance you will get paid, but how long that will take is anyone's guess.
Maybe you'll get your big break. Maybe you'll become an Instagram superstar or land a huge project or a big show, or make a major sale. Or maybe you won't. There are no guarantees, so the most important thing is to enjoy the ride and learn every step of the way. Don't attach yourself to the outcome, but to the process, focusing on your growth. If you're growing, you're opening new doors, one of which, hopefully will be the right one for you.
That said, don't feel too intimidated. You're not alone on this road, even though it often feels like it. There are many resources --- classes, books, case studies, --- that prove there's a light at the of the tunnel. Success is attainable, but the work and the time are non-negotiable. I highly recommend the classes at Creativelive.com because they cover all your bases from your craft, the business, to branding, and just getting your head on straight. (This is NOT a paid endorsement - I'm just a fan.)
Beyond that, it's becoming more and more evident that success isn't what makes people happy anyway. Assuming you aren't going hungry or homeless, if you love what you do for its own sake, if it gives your life meaning, then you're cashing in on your happiness in the present, instead of mortgaging it to some notion of eventual success. As a wise man once said: "The journey is the reward." (It was Steve Jobs, too.)
So, in the end, ask yourself if quitting your day job is really what it will take to make you feel fulfilled, because there's a 99% chance it won't make you rich and famous, and there's a 100% chance it will make you financially poorer in the interim. I, for one, wholeheartedly endorse making the leap, because I'm convinced saving the world requires people working passionately at jobs that may not even quite exist yet. The good news is, if your answer is a resounding YES, you'll only have one regret: not starting sooner.