Don't turn your hobby into a profession
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Don't turn your hobby into a profession - Or should you?
It is so often said that you should just follow your passion, then you would never work another day in your life. And it actually turns out that many people are willing to bring more passion into their lives and make their passion their profession. Particularly in the expat community, I have met many great women who have discovered new interests for themselves, torn out of the hamster wheel abroad. After some time of settling in or after moving back to the home country, the question of professional development became louder and louder in their minds. What should I do professionally now? Back to the old profession that, with a little distance, no longer seems so attractive? Or maybe turn my beloved hobby into a profession? This new hobby seems to be way more fun and feels more authentic to me.
But before you register a business right away, there are a few things to consider. First of all, not all passions are made to be earned or to live on alone. Just because you have a passion for photography or painting doesn’t mean you have to become a photographer or painter. On the contrary, it’s not uncommon for passions to lose their appeal when you have to earn money from them and can’t do them just for fun. That is something that we often blend out. A hobby is like a sacred place with its own rules. The moment we transfer a hobby to the real world it changes its DNA pretty quickly. Suddenly, it comes along with the responsibilities of sales or doing taxes.
"Just because you have a passion for photography or painting doesn't mean you have to become a photographer or painter. On the contrary, it's not uncommon for passions to lose their appeal when you have to earn money from them and can't do them just for fun."
Moreover, many people assume that passion is something that you just have to find somehow, that will crystallize at some point or that can be found without much effort. In reality, it’s not about finally finding your passion, but discovering and developing your passion step by step.
According to a Yale University study, people with a fixed mindset have the assumption that they would find their passion within their existing interests and that following that passion would require little effort. They gave up significantly faster at the first difficulties than the people with a growth mindset, who also seek their passion outside their usual sphere and accept possible difficulties as part of the journey.
Prof. Jachimowicz of Havard University adds in his article in Havard Business Review (2019) that we should just not wait for passion to find us. Rather, we should actively seek and develop our own passion, even outside the known sphere. He goes on to suggest that a passion is not primarily about what you enjoy doing, but what is important to you and what you value. So instead of asking “What is fun for me?” it is better to ask “What is meaningful to me?”.
Finding your passion takes time
In her book and research project on “Working Identity”, Prof. Herminia Ibarra (2004) of London Business School also shows that career adaptation or reshaping does not happen by mere reflection or planning, but by putting thoughts into action. The creation of possible futures through trial and error, new relationships, networking, and awareness of one’s own history are the midwives of this process. These results go hand in hand with the findings of journalist Po Bronson, who interviewed more than 900 people about advancing and reshaping their careers. He found that for most it didn’t happen overnight, that it took several years of trial and experimentation, and that the journey was more like a winding road than a straight line.
So it’s not about passively waiting for the moment when the passion shows itself, but actively exploring and developing the passion.
So while we obviously can turn our hobby into a profession it comes with a caveat. Sometimes it is good to do a reality check first:
- Is there a real market for that?
- Is it just fun? Or is it important to me?
- What happens if I keep it as a hobby?
- What passions do I really have?
- What can I do to find a passion out of my normal routine?
Case Study: A coaching session
I remember a client session where the goal was to find out how to turn her hobby into a profession. After going a bit deeper and questioning the WHY we found out, that turning it into a profession is actually not was she really wanted. However, it felt logical for her to do so as it was a passion she was good at and was well respected for that. Her hobby back then gave her acknowledgment that she was lacking for being unemployed and she tried to compensate for it with her hobby. The moment she realized that she can keep her hobby as a hobby but find something that incorporates elements of what is important to her in her professional life the whole dynamic of the conversation changed. Sometimes it is also about allowing us to NOT turn a hobby into a profession.
What do you think? Do these thoughts resonate with you? Are you curious to find out more about your own passion and whether to turn it into a profession or not? Let’s have a conversation! You can book a free discovery call in my calendar and I am more than happy to find out the solution to your very own question!