It’s true that one of the keys to success in life is often pursuing something you’re passionate about. When you’re passionate about something, you tend to stick with it, to put in the hours required to become proficient or even expert, and eventually reap the rewards of all that practice. When you enjoy what you’re doing, it’s much easier to succeed than if you hate every day and every task.
You wouldn’t think that there would be a downside to pursuing your passion. You’re having fun, making money, building a life. What’s the problem? The problem comes when your passion starts pushing out other things that have to get done. To make the most of your passion, you have to also make the most of the money you earn from it. That means paying bills on time, budgeting, planning for retirement, saving money, handling the aspects of running your own business (if applicable), marketing, paying your taxes, and all the other mundane details of life.
Too many people let their passion crowd out all of those details. The mythology of the starving artist is romantic, but there’s nothing romantic about living in a rat hole apartment and eating mac and cheese every night. It doesn’t have to be that way. Unfortunately, too many people end up in this situation not because they aren’t making money, but because they’ve let their passion override their other responsibilities. After all, managing money isn’t as fun or exciting as the work they love, so why bother? They get so caught up in the work that they either forget or ignore the details of money management.
If you want to make the most of your passion, you have to tend to the details. This may mean setting aside specific time slots to deal with money. Maybe you set aside a half hour every day, or one whole day a week. Experiment to find the best time that works for you. If you’re very fortunate, you can hire someone to tend to the details for you. Just make sure it is someone you trust. Even then you need to keep an eye on your finances to make certain that your “helper” isn’t helping themselves to your money, or simply being incompetent.
Aside from money, you also need to tend to the other details of life while pursuing your passion. This means handling all the routine chores and maintenance that you need to do, as well as tending to your health. If you hole up and do nothing but work, you may wake up one day to discover that your house needs extensive repairs, you’ve got some disease that could have been prevented or cured if you’d just gone for that physical last year, or your car is in dire need of repair. When you let everything go, it builds up and problems that might have been small and inexpensive to fix are now major monsters that will eat up all of your savings. Pull yourself away from the work long enough to take care of the details of life.
It’s fine to work all the time for short periods, such as when you’re on a deadline or the muse is really driving you. But you can’t do it day in and day out for years to the exclusion of everything else. If you do, you’ll find that all that work was for nothing if you have no money to show for it, or if all your money now has to be spent on repairing everything in your house. Pursuing your passion is a great way to succeed in life, but only if you remember that you have to keep up with the rest of your life.
(Photo courtesy of stoneysteiner)