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13 Ways to Do What You Love for a Living

Bennett Conlin
Bennett Conlin

Whether you're a new professional or an experienced businessperson, working in a job you don't love can take a toll mentally. Your Sunday nights become filled with dread as you anticipate another day of watching the clock.

On the flip side, working in a profession you love can fill your life with joy and result in a willingness to work long weeks. Your dream job doesn't have to remain a fantasy. Follow these 13 tips to do what you love for a living.

Make excuses to follow your dream

When you're in a job you dislike, it's easy to stay put and accept the steady stream of incoming paychecks. Leaving a company includes an element of risk, and it's easy to compose a mental list of excuses why you shouldn't pursue your dream. In the end, these reasons only lead to more frustration and dissatisfaction in your current job.

Instead of focusing on reasons why you shouldn't leave, start finding excuses to pursue your dream career.

"You only live once and do not want to live in regret," said Melissa Eboli, certified nutritional chef.

Eboli worked as a sales rep for 15 years before leaving her job in the summer of 2016 to pursue a career as a cook. She's now held over 90 client events and was recently featured on "The Dr. Oz Show."

"Whatever job or career it is you are stepping away from will always be there, but opportunities to pursue your dream may not," Eboli said. "Many people told me I was crazy for doing what I did, but I felt I was answering a calling I had to pursue. If you have the burning desire, take the leap and see where it leads you." 

Make time to make it happen

Once you've determined a passion you want to shape into a career, Deirdre Maloney, business consultant and president of Momentum, said it is critical to take the steps necessary to turn that idea into a reality.

"Once we pinpoint ideas, we need to do something decidedly not passionate: schedule time in our calendars to come up with our plan to get there," Maloney told Business News Daily. "The plan must be written down, even if it's broken out into tiny baby steps."

Discover how to profit from your passion

Andrew David Osborne, the founder of Minifridge Media, left a career in sales in 2016 to start his business, which specializes in corporate videos. While this wasn't necessarily his "dream job," taking this leap helped him inch closer to his career aspirations. By thinking creatively about how you can pursue your passion while still making a living, you'll get closer to reaching your dream job without losing financial stability.

"This would be a good time to think outside the box and consider where passions could be applied in ways that aren’t immediately obvious," said Osborne. "My dream in life is to be a Hollywood film director. I realized that if I could apply the same level of artistry and creativity to corporate videos as I would to a film, then my corporate videos would be cinematic, I’d be proud of them, and I’d have fun making them." 

Be realistic

It's OK to make a major career change, but you also need to be realistic about it. David Ruch, performer and teaching artist, said he broke off from a marketing job in 1992 to pursue a career in music, but his advice is not to assume doing a job you love is going to be a utopia.

"Treat it like a job and work twice as hard as you ever have before," Ruch said. "You'll need to, but you also won't mind because you really believe in what you're doing. I've seen too many people branch out to pursue a passion without realizing they are now entrepreneurs and will be wearing several new hats that might not fit quite so well at first."

Surround yourself with supportive people

Sara DiVello knows firsthand what it takes to make the switch to a true passion, having left her corporate public relations job to become a yoga teacher and author. She believes the key is surrounding yourself with supportive people.

"Because your colleagues may feel just as trapped and scared, a dynamic can evolve where they can actually contribute to holding you back," DiVello said. "Some co-workers were overtly discouraging, telling me I'd be back, that I'd miss it."

DiVello said the support of friends can make people feel less alone – and much braver.

Find mentors

When you're trying to pursue a career you love, network and seek out mentors to help you in the process.

"Identify people in your network and beyond who hold your dream job – or something close to it – and ask for an opportunity to speak to them," said Alyssa Gelbard, founder and president of career consulting firm Resume Strategists. "If you don't know people well, initiating conversation via LinkedIn is a great way to start. Tell them you are making a career change and conducting research and due diligence to make a well-informed move."

Gelbard said to ask about their education, career progression and the challenges they've faced, along with the skills and experiences and connections they've acquired along the way. You should also look for people who work in your desired job and conduct webinars or give talks about their jobs.

"Attend these events, if possible, or watch them online," Gelbard said. "Reach out to speakers afterward and tell them how much you enjoyed the event and be sure to mention a specific part. Also mention the career change you are pursuing and ask if they might have a few minutes to speak [to you] in the next few weeks. You'd be surprised at how generous people are with their time, particularly when you are asking them to talk about themselves and how they got to where they are today."

Focus on yourself

As you attempt to follow your biggest career aspirations, there are going to be detractors who belittle your goals or voice their doubts. To be successful, you need to block out the negative noise and focus on your personal journey. 

"You're going to get a lot of people in your life who think it's very cool and exciting," Osborne said. "You'll also have people who think it's dumb and that you're wasting your time. Watching these people make a lot of money in traditional careers while you scrape and suffer for the first couple years is going to be difficult. You have to have emotional toughness to deal with this."

By worrying about your path and happiness, rather than the success of other people in more traditional careers, you'll be better off. Speak to your close supporters and think positive thoughts.

Don't wait around

Chryssa Zizos, founder and president of Live Wire Media Relations, said she believes that the longer people wait to make a career switch to something they love, the less likely they are to ever do it.

"If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, then you should act quickly," Zizos said. "Open the business you have been dreaming of, because as you get older, you are less likely to take risks."

Start slow

It's smart to act quickly, but that doesn't mean you need to jump into the deep end of the pool from the start. There's no shame in getting your feet wet, building your skills and preparing for a deeper dive.

Sam Laliberte quit her job over a year ago to travel the world and produce content remotely. She's created a podcast series around her journey and others that have pursued an entrepreneurial lifestyle. Laliberte suggests building up to your dream career.

"Pursue your dream on the side to start," Laliberte said. "This allows you to validate that you actually love it as much as you think you will, while also building up your network [and] portfolio before jumping into it full time." 

Take classes

Before jumping in with both feet, Ben Seidel, president and founder of Igniting Business, says those interested in switching their careers to something they love should take some classes or get some professional instruction on the industry. This helps you confirm that the career and industry suit you.

"Invest in some coursework or professional training in that area in order to gauge your talent and endurance," Seidel said.

Swallow your pride

Jana Glowatz, CEO and founder of Jana Public Relations, experienced a major career change and knows what it's like to have to start over. Her advice? Stay humble.

"I think the most helpful tip I can offer someone is to swallow your pride," Glowatz said. "I had been working in real estate and finance but knew my true calling was to be a publicist.

Glowatz went back to school and did several internships working alongside younger college students.

"Even though I was significantly older, our experience in the field was similar – limited," Glowatz said. "I stayed humble and knew that I had to learn and absorb everything I could, even if it was from someone younger. It's important to remember that when you're in this position, you're not above any task or project given to you."

Find ways to validate your decision

Sometimes, coming to terms with the decision to start a new career path or business can be the hardest part, which is why Halona Black, writer and content strategist, said it's important to look for ways to stick by your choice.

"When I started my first side business as an education consultant, I had a hard time believing that I could do it," Black said. "So what I did was act the part. I got business cards made, wrote up a new resume with my new title and started a blog."

Black said that keeping a blog helped her believe in her goals even when she wasn't entirely sure she believed in her vision, and it ultimately helped her business.

"Writing via a blog on a regular basis helped to validate my experience and preparation and got me several of my first opportunities as an education consultant."

Be patient

Teresa Royer became a small business owner following a stint in the U.S. Air Force as a surgical nurse and a career managing medical teams. With multiple career transitions under her belt, Royer believes the key to finding your dream job is to do your research and keep working toward your goals.   

"Know you will make mistakes and have failure points along the way, but keep your head up, forgive yourself fast, and keep moving forward. Progress, not perfection."

Additional reporting by Brittney Morgan and Chad Brooks. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

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Bennett Conlin
Bennett Conlin Member
Bennett is a B2B editorial assistant based in New York City. He graduated from James Madison University in 2018 with a degree in business management. During his time in Harrisonburg he worked extensively with The Breeze, JMU’s student-run newspaper. Bennett also worked at the Shenandoah Valley SBDC, where he helped small businesses with a variety of needs ranging from social media marketing to business plan writing.