This is a guest post by Mighty Rasing.
I’m sure you’ve heard this advice a million times already: “Pursue your passion.” I, myself, have written about that and encouraged people to capitalize on their passion and build their careers and lives around it.
Yet, “pursuing your passion” is overrated. Or at least, it is only a part of the bigger picture of your career and your life. Pursuing your passion is good; but there are two other factors that should complete the equation—your skills and the market for them.
Passion. Being passionate for something is great. You can lose yourself into it and not count the minutes and hours that pass by. If you love playing the guitar, you can practice for hours and not get bored.
Skills. Having a passion for something, however, does not guarantee proficiency and excellence. You need to develop the right skills to pursue your passion. If you’re passionate about making music but you are tone-deaf, it might not be the best path for you! Skills can be learned but sometimes you are forced to learn these skills because they are required for your job. If it’s a skill related to your passions, the training hours will just pass by quickly and blissfully.
Market. You may be passionate for something and you have the skills for it, but is there a market for it? Can you make a living out of it? Some markets, such as art and classical music may be too small for you to thrive. Don’t lose heart just yet. You can create the market for your passion and your skills! It is a long road, however, and you should be willing to invest significant amount of time and resources.
Tina Seelig, author of “What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20” says it best: “Passions are just a starting point. You also need to know your talents and how the world values them… if you have a talent in an area and there’s a big market for your skills, then that is a great area to find a job.”
How I Pursued My Passion by Resigning from a Well-Paying Job.
After my College graduation, I wanted to work with a non-profit organization that would help empower young people. I believed that I can help make a difference in the lives of many young people. I committed to be a volunteer leader of a faith-based non-profit national youth organization in the Philippines. But I needed to earn money to support myself financially. In February 2006, I joined IBM in Manila. The pay was good. Opportunities for growth were good, too. The people were great. I had a good future for myself.
But I cannot help but pursue my passion for helping other young people. That is why in May 2006, I got elected as the National President of our organization. At first, I thought that I could manage my good paying job and the organization at the same time. Boy was I wrong! Fast forward to December 2006, I quit IBM to pursue my passion and become a full-time volunteer.
Before you start saying “good choice!” Let me tell you that the organization only paid for direct expenses for programs and events. I didn’t receive any salary, stipend or honorarium. I didn’t really know how to support myself. For three months, I watched my savings get depleted.
With a big heart and zero income, I took all sorts of part-time jobs and learned about freelance opportunities online. Five months after resigning from IBM, I was back on my feet. I was earning enough money to pay my rent and my bills. The best thing is, I had lots of time for what I am truly passionate about!
I was passionate for development work in a non-profit organization setting. I developed the skills for that. But I could not make a living out of it, so I had to augment my income by doing other jobs. Writers and musicians have the same story. They keep their day jobs to support themselves as they pursue their passion. For many of us, that’s the best option. But if your passions, skills and the market come together, you are in a great situation!
The Interaction of Your Passions, Skills and the Market
Analyze your passions, your skills and the market. Then try to locate yourself in any of the following scenario:
1. No overlap at all!
If this is your situation, boy, you’re in trouble. You gotta do something to make at least two of them align and overlap.
2. Skills and Passion Overlap but there is little or no market.
If this is your situation, you can either consider your passion as a hobby, to be done only after work or create the demand for your passion and skills. The latter option, however, will require lots of resources.
3. Skills and Market Overlap but you’re not passionate with what you’re doing.
You need to learn to love what you’re doing. If you can’t do that, you better look at some ways to integrate your passion into your job.
4. Passion and Market Overlap but you don’t have the skills.
The solution is simple, you develop the skills that you need. Since you are already passionate about it anyway, developing your skills will not be forced, nor will it be boring.
5. Passion, Skills and Market Overlap
Now, this is best possible scenario. Just keep doing what you’re doing. But don’t forget to look for opportunities for growth.
Pursue your passion. Hone your skills. Offer something that the market needs. If you can do that, you will not go hungry even if your passion cannot pay for your bills.
My term as national president for the organization ended in 2008. I grew as a leader. I also learned a lot of skills through my part-time and online jobs, chief among them is how to use the Web for all it’s worth. I know several ways to earn income via the Internet. But I have also learned how to use the Web to further pursue my advocacies and help achieve the goals of the organization I served with. All in all, I came out a winner. Right now, I’m in a place where I’m still doing youth empowerment activities and programs but I am paid now as a staff of a different faith-based organization.
By the way, I have also learned to be passionate about blogging and online communications. There’s a great market for it and I’m in the process of securing the right skills for that passion and market.
Mighty blogs about transformational leadership and social entrepreneurship at www.TransformationalLeadershipHQ.com.