Do What You Love or Go for the Money?

by Aileen

Woman dancing on beach

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published as a guest post on The Daily Brainstorm.

“It’s good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven’t lost the things that money can’t buy.” ~ George Lorimer

Around the world, numerous people are doing what they love, but unfortunately, for many the money just hasn’t followed. Others have chosen a path toward money forsaking what they love. Then there are those  who are fortunate to do what they love and make great money doing it.

Do you follow your passion with no regard for your financial well being? Or, do you focus on work to provide the income you need while ignoring your passions?

Love and Money

In my early years, I came across the famous book and phrase from Marsha Sinetar, “Do what you love, the money will follow.” So at 19, I decided to fully embrace doing what I love and give 100% of myself to my mission of passion while refusing the advice of a back-up plan. I believed that if I had something to fall back on, I would be encouraging myself to fall back and use it. If I didn’t have a back-up plan, I would be encouraging myself to succeed. Yes, this may sound naïve, but it’s still a widely held belief among aspiring artists.

Passionately, I stayed true to my decision and found myself at age 26 with a bachelors degree in theatre and insurmountable student loans. Luckily I had  jobs scooping ice cream and waitressing to help barely pay my rent and provide my daily ramen noodle meals to survive.

Not everyone follows this lifestyle. There are those who map out their careers based on the earning potential, yet although they are successful, they feel something is missing in their life.

The Raw Truth

The reality is you can have both.

Financial ruin, possible eviction and hunger aren’t great ingredients for a happy fulfilling life. Yes, absolutely you can choose to be happy regardless of your life situation, Viktor Frankl taught us that very clearly in “Mans Search for Meaning.”

Similarly, a  secure financial life that is devoid of one’s passions isn’t completely fulfilling either.

There are always options. Why suffer if you don’t have to? We all deserve a fulfilling life, and we are capable of having it.

Whether your passion is travel, the creative arts, or having your own business …whatever it is there is a way to experience what you love and be financially healthy.

The Small Steps

Here are some kaizen adjustments that you can try to keep the love going and the money flowing…

1. Downsize your Budget Mindfully – Go over your finances and find where you can reduce your expenses. It might take several iterations to fully trim it down but it will give you a clear sense of the minimum amount of money you need to bring in every month. This will help if you are considering a job that may pay less, but brings you closer to what you love. A further suggestion would be to practice living on the budget you created for a while to be sure it fits your needs.

2. Side-Business – Maybe your love can become a side business that you can grow slowly. It might not be feasible to quit your current job immediately, but perhaps you can find a way to do both by carving out an hour or two a night and a few more hours on the weekends. I’m very familiar with the frustrations of growing slowly. Yes, sometimes it looks like it won’t ever happen, but if you continue taking small steps in that one direction and take bigger ones when you can, it does work.

3. Evaluate – Look at your transferable skills. Perhaps you can work in another field or a variation of the field you work in now, one that would allow you to work fewer hours or more towards your passion.

4. Be Flexible – Be open to looking at options and find how you can have your passions in your current reality. Maybe you can’t see how you can earn a side income doing what you love but you still want to actually do it. So get out there. Take a class at a local community college, or through your city or join a local meet-up group.

5. Volunteer – Look at Charities or other non-profits in your local community for opportunities to use your skills or learn some new ones. This worked out well for someone I knew who had a small dance company that she was growing. Volunteering is a great way to give back, put your talents to good use, or even gain experience.

6. Work it – Keep a journal of your ideas as they come up. Try them and if they fail, be willing to work them again a little differently. A friend of mine wanted to be an illustrator but couldn’t get a job, so she took a different approach and offered custom illustrated newsletters to small businesses in her neighborhood.  This led to a business of her own, which led to job offers and a full time career.

7. Be open – When we refuse an opportunity because it doesn’t look like one, we miss out on the very thing we’re looking for. The opportunity may appear inconvenient or not quite right at first, but give it a try and see what happens.

Keeping it Real

“Come to the edge, He said. They said, ‘We are afraid’. ‘Come to the edge’, He said. They came. He pushed them… and they flew.” – Christopher Logue (*often attributed to Guillaume Apollinaire)

Although these words sound lovely and inspiring, what I’ve learned is that it’s wise to have something in place because we won’t always fly, sometimes we fall.

My adorable father-in-law once told me, “My passion was coaching kids’ soccer and I love bowling and playing golf… being a lawyer provided me the living to do all these things.”

We can live our dreams if we are flexible in how we see what that dream looks like. So commit to what you love but be fiscally responsible. This is a tough balancing act. Sometimes you may feel like you’re sacrificing one over the other. Just try to be open to adjustments as you walk the high wire in this circus of life.

What is one of your passions? How do you weave it into your life?

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie September 29, 2010

Wise advice Aileen. I’ve tried to do this very thing and it’s a continual balancing act between paid work and joyful work and trying to find paid work that is joyful. I’m lucky though, my work is always interesting.
Katie´s last [type] ..How to Grow Momentum in Your Life


Aileen September 29, 2010

I feel balance is often misunderstood as something that is achieved once and then it should be permanent or a sort of all-set-now thing. Your words “continual balancing act” articulate the reality of balance – as an ever moving thing.


Louise September 29, 2010

Sometimes goals and dreams are very difficult to come by – we just try to keep moving along!!!!!


Aileen September 29, 2010

Moving along can be a powerful choice – we allow life to open up and opportunities appear .
Thank you for sharing your thoughts :)


Angela Artemis September 29, 2010

I love this post! I’m glad you put it on your blog so I could comment. I think you’re absolutely right we can have both. I spent most of my adult life thinking that I couldn’t leave my high-paying job to do what I loved – because then I’d have no money. All that accomplished was putting my dreams on hold for long, long time. Now I know that I can have both and that working slowly toward this goal is much better plan than jumping in head-first by quitting my job. Of course now that the real estate market is so slow – my income isn’t what used to be, but now I have the time to devote to the slow growth of my dream. So, it’s actually working out perfectly!
Angela Artemis´s last [type] ..Do You Know What Your Pet Wants


Aileen September 29, 2010

A slow growth of ones dreams is a perfect way to nurture the dream and integrate it into our life. It allows us a the opportunity to really allow it; sometimes when our dreams come to quickly we can all too easily sabotage in a panic. It’s as though our mind has time to accept it and we grow into the new reality. Of course it can challenge our patience too, but whether or not we live our dreams sooner or later, faster or slower – we can live them!!


Walter September 29, 2010

Everything is created twice, first in the mind then second in reality. Passion is not enough to achieve our goals, one participation in making such goal a reality is extremely important. If one works hard, learn along the way, stand up from each failure, and never give up, success will prove to be impossible. :-)


Aileen September 29, 2010

Walter I enjoy your recipe for success: “If one works hard, learn along the way, stand up from each failure, and never give up, success will prove to be impossible.”
I do like how you state that everything is created twice once in mind then in reality.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and wisdom


Jane Rochelle September 30, 2010

Thanks Aileen, for sharing this piece of your story! It’s so powerful to learn what others have experienced, what they’ve learned along the way … you’re courageous, and I appreciate you helping me to be mindful of the balance between love and money.
Have a lovely day!
~ Jane
Jane Rochelle´s last [type] ..10 Posts That Helped Me Let Go Of Fear And Pursue My Dreams


Suzy October 5, 2010

I am sort of an idealist when it comes to doing what you love and making money. I believe that everyone is given specific gifts to offer the world, and the world will not be the same without them. To live your passions and trust that the universe will support you takes alot of belief in oneself. You have to really believe and feel confident in your talents in order to let go of the belief that you have to do “traditional” types of jobs to earn a living. Like everything else, what you create depends upon what you are thinking about, not what the rest of the world says is true.


Aileen October 8, 2010

Hi Suzy, I like your vision and perspective. It is true, that what we create depends in us and “not what the rest of the world says is true.” You live by the law of attraction. I had a lovey visit to your site today and enjoyed your post “The Secret is Appreciation.”


Mike Ramsey October 6, 2010

Until now, I still don’t know why I’m into online business. I mean, I know that this is what I really want. However, there are times that I still asks myself about my possible work or position in big companies. What if I didn’t reject all the offers as soon as I graduated? Will it make something difference in my life? To address your question, I would love to work based on what I want and not because of money.
Mike Ramsey´s last [type] ..Tips On How To Stop Excessive Sweating


Aileen October 8, 2010

Mike, thank you for your thoughtful comment – I like the questions you ask yourself, “What if I didn’t reject all the offers as soon as I grad­u­ated? Will it make some­thing dif­fer­ence in my life?” – great questions to ponder! – I do find that when making life choices such as careers, it’s best to examine all aspects. It helps us have more confidence and less doubts about the paths we choose.


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