“There’s a harsh truth about getting paid to do what you love that most people aren’t aware of: If you’re not careful you can follow your passion right into poverty.”
In his “7 Hard Truths About Building a Creative Career,” Srinivas Rao (@UnmistakableCEO), author of Unmistakable: Why Only Is Better Than Best, outlines some “hard truths” and makes a good, or at least educational, read if you’re seriously thinking about “chasing your dreams” of “following your bliss” with regard to your career.
Keep the following quote in mind if you’re really, really serious about quitting that day job that’s sucking the soul out from your nostrils every day:
“If you’re worried about how to put a roof over your head, food on the table and keep the lights on, your mental bandwidth for creative and entrepreneurial endeavors will be hijacked.”
To summarize the above piece I linked to, Srinivas Rao says there are seven key points to consider before diving into the deep end off a 200-foot tower:
1. There has to be a Market Demand
2. You have to Create Value
3. You Need to Pay the Bills and Reduce Your Overhead
4. Treat Your Current Situation As a Learning Experience
5. You need to Develop the Habits of a Professional
6. You must commit to Mastering Your Craft
7. There Are No Shortcuts
And, of course, there are things he refers to as “failure points for all creatives.” Here are the three he lists and talks about briefly, “they” in this case refering to the possible future you.
1) They can’t endure the poverty: Being poor sucks and it’s not easy. Many people quit they’ve had enough of living on ramen and sleeping in less than ideal circumstances. And to be honest there’s nothing wrong with that. If your dream is making you hate your life, perhaps it’s not the most worthwhile dream.
2) They can’t develop the skills: In a world with this much noise, the quality of your work matters. Becoming skilled at what you do isn’t an option, it’s a necessity.
3) They can’t evolve and adapt: When you reach later stages in a creative career, and you’re getting to do work for other people (i.e. publishers, web sites, etc.) you have to learn to evolve and adapt. A lot of what got you to where you are will no longer work the way it once did.
This might all sound like doom and gloom, but it’s practical. One last piece of advice I’d offer is this: Are you the type of person who enjoys being with a steady partner, one who never rocks the boat, even if you’re not madly in love? Or are you the type of person who dreams big, demands pure, unbridled love at any cost, and will sacrifice whatever it takes to find The One?
If the former, keep the day job; if the latter, make sure you’ve got at least six months worth of living expenses in the bank before you take the next step. And a parachute, hopefully painted a golden colour. The last thing you need (aside from a hole in the head) is an eviction notice, nowhere to turn, and no job to pay the bills and put ramen on the table.