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The Weekly Question - August 7, 2020

Passions and professions: Can you combine the two?


Would you like your passion to become your profession and get paid to do what you love, or do you think there's value in keeping passions as a separate additional thing in your life? What are the risks about turning your hobby into a job? Or is a paid hobby the dream life? We asked our community and they answered.

All too often, the entrepreneur story is about turning your passion into a profession - and making the thing you love doing your job - but is that a sensible approach, or is there value in keeping your passions and your profession separated? Should hobbies stay as something you do for fun, or should you find ways to get paid doing something you love?

We asked the community, and they answered.

Anna W said:"I've always been of the belief that ‘do a job you love and you’ll never have to work one day in your life’ too and its worked for me. I've been a designer and photographer for 14 years or so and still love it more than ever. I always wonder how people can do a job and not enjoy it when you do it for the majority of your life.  I feel that it works for me because I have regular long holidays and totally switch off from work on weekends so that helps me keep loving what I do as I'm not immersed in it 24/7. I also have other passions outside of work that are just hobbies."

Anna starts with a great point - if you love your job, it rarely feels like hard work - and there are plenty of ways to make sure you love what you do - but loving a job and turning something you love into your job are not always the same thing. Would our community want to try and monetise their passions or turn their side projects into their main project?

Sophie said: "I wouldn’t want my passion to become my full time job. Being a designer per day and print maker by night is perfect. I’m ok getting paid for my graphic design services, but I don’t know how I would feel about people paying for my print and expecting me to follow some deadlines (because they paid…) I fear it would destroy the whole fun of it."

Often, our passions and hobbies are things we do for the sake of enjoyment. There’s no deadline, there’s no pressure or urgency behind it, there’s no-one judging whether we did it well or not, and often there’s no consequence if you don’t do it, but rather just the joy of the experience. Adding an extrinsic motivation (i.e. money) or shifting from asking yourself to do a task to someone else asking you to do a task changes the relationship we have with the task.

Suddenly, we are beholden to another, rather than ourselves. And this can significantly change how we feel about the passion - no longer intrinsically motivating, we have an external forcing encouraging us to undertake the action. It’s no longer ours, but someone elses to judge, commission, critique.

Ella said:"I started my professional career in my passion - chasing racing cars around the planet. But it ruined it for me. Completely fell out of love with the sport I dedicated my education and life to. After about 4 years of completely ignoring it wherever possible, I’m now starting to casually observe it again from a distance, but it doesn’t light a fire in me anymore. I’m not naive enough to say I won’t want to scratch that itch again one day, but for now I’m very happy to have fulfilling work that isn’t a passion, and fulfilling passions that aren’t work."

At worst, monetising a passion can mean we completely fall out of love with it - removing all of the joy entirely for something - which is a really sad situation to find ourselves in, especially if our interests and hobbies were something we used as as a way of escaping the ‘day job’ or used as a way to unwind.

Anna C said: "I feel like I pretty much do get paid to do what I love but because of that I take it for granted almost?? I think because of that, I've found that I do have to keep a few hobbies completely for myself. Eg I started drawing and I never post about it online or have any interest in turning it into a money-making hustle. I keep it as a strictly offline, creative outlets just for myself."

So even if you love doing what you do, or have turned what you love into a job - there’s still benefit in keeping some separation between what you do for money, and what you do for love. But what comes first? Passion or Profession?

Luke said: "Since my GCSEs at school I've followed the things I seem to be passionate about at the time. That lead me via art > graphic design > interaction > programming > ux > service > strategy > foresight. With each iteration the passion became my profession and introduced me to even more new things to become passionate about.In a few years I'll be doing something slightly different to what I'm doing now, but there'll be an obvious thread that connects each step in my journey. I only ever do the things I'm passionate about at that time, but recognise that as I grow I change, and I find more things I enjoy, as well as things I don't enjoy."

Passions and professions can and often intermingle, and our interest in new areas which might start out as a hobby can influence new spaces to develop into professionally. These change and shift over time, and can influence our career, without needing to be something we wholly commit to. For example, enjoying photography might not need to lead to shift to becoming a full-time photographer, but could certainly add to our skill sets in visual design and storytelling.

In Summary:

What's your response?

How would you answer this weekly question? Leave a comment here, or tell us in the community.