Plenty of people have lost their jobs in the past few years, the poor economy being the main culprit. But many more are in jobs where promotional opportunities have disappeared, and the emphasis has shifted from advancing to surviving.
If you’ve lost your job and can’t find a replacement in your field, or if there’s a pending layoff and you’re sure you’ll be in that position soon, or if it’s clear you’ve hit a career ceiling, here’s a radical suggestion…
Find your passion—and start living it!
If you can’t do what you’ve been doing career-wise, try doing what you’ve always wanted to do—that thing you you’ve dreamed about for years but couldn’t possibly do because you’d lose your seniority/security/pension/benefits/living standard—fill-in-the-blank.
For many people, the job isn’t providing many of those advantages anyway. When the perception of job security is lost, it may be time to stop running away from who it is we want to be.
Why pursuing your passion is so important
When we’re moving forward in our careers, we not only have a positive view of our work but also of our lives in general. We’re going places, and that’s exciting. It’s called hope for a better tomorrow, but when it’s gone life can start to get stale. It may even get a bit…lousy!
Optimism is a natural human state. We all need it to feel that what we’re doing is making a difference—that we’re making a difference. But how do we feel that if our careers are stuck in neutral or worse? Do you get up in the morning and say “I just wanna get by in life”? Of course not.
We want and need to move ahead, to improve—to thrive! With cost cutting and job eliminations being the norm in so many fields, money can no longer be our primary motivation for measuring the value of our work. If money is tight no matter what we do for a living, then loving what it is we do becomes more important than ever.
Why the risks are lower than at any time before
If you’re facing a career crisis, or at least reading newspapers and blogs you already have a good idea that our economic futures are no longer remotely secure. Consider the following:
- Jobs are being outsourced to cheaper foreign locations, while others are being replaced by technology
- There are no unions to protect workers in today’s declining industries
- There is no job security in most fields
- The future of Social Security is uncertain
- Traditional defined benefit pensions don’t exist in most jobs
- Employers are shifting more of the cost of health insurance to employees, and in many cases eliminating the plans altogether
- Cost cutting fever has put an end to automatic annual pay raises
- In many career fields, parallel jobs at competing employers don’t exist; a job lost will be a career lost
I’m not advising that you quit your job tomorrow and start pursuing your passion, but I do mean to point out that the things we’ve been pinning our hopes on for the past few decades aren’t as certain as they once were. Because of that, pursuing your passion could be very well be the most reliable step you can take to securing your future. There really isn’t as much to lose as there used to be, and there could be plenty to gain.
How your passions could be the key to your survival
We often tend to view pursuing our passions as being a flight of fancy bordering on recklessness. But maybe that’s not entirely true, certainly not in the way it was in the past. There are certain benefits to it that may offset what we lose by leaving (voluntarily or otherwise) our traditional careers.
Doing something you truly enjoy. If you like what you do, it won’t feel so much like work. Not only will that eliminate the need for expensive hobbies and past-times, but it will also lower stress levels and that has measurable health benefits.
There will be less necessity to retire. Because you actually like what you do, there’ll be less need to “cash out” via retirement—early or otherwise. In fact, by doing what you love, you’ll be creating a career you can work at the rest of your life. That may be the best retirement strategy of all, especially if you haven’t managed to accumulate a large retirement nest egg so far in your life.
Better blend of work and personal lives. It’s often easier to balance work and personal when we’re following our passions, especially if that involves self-employment. If you’re happy in your work, you’ll be happier in life and the need for strict boundaries may not be so important.
Liking what you do means you’ll be better at it. If you actually like what you do for a living—as opposed to enduring it for the sake of a paycheck—you’ll do it better and be better at it. Perhaps more than anything else that may do more to increase your income and provide a steady paycheck than any other step you could take.
Minimizing the risk before taking the plunge…
While it may not be difficult to follow your passions early in life when your monetary needs are light, it can look like financial suicide to do so when you have a mortgage to pay, a retirement to prepare for and a family to raise. So how do you move toward your passions if this describes you?
- Lower your cost of living. The less you can live on, the more likely you are to succeed at anything you try.
- Debt is a critical obstacle to free choice. Pay it down gradually, pay it off immediately, sell the possession securing it, but get rid of it. The freedom you’ll gain will more than replace what ever it is you had to give up.
- Save as much money as you can. The bigger your bank roll, the better prepared for what ever the future holds.
- Pursue your passion as a side venture. Enter it and build it up on the side, until it reaches the point where you can make a full time pursuit.
- If you go the side venture route, view your job as a financing source for your passion, for your new life. Not only will this thinking make your current job more tolerable, but it will also make it a key element in support of your forward movement—even if the job itself is taking you nowhere.
In today’s economic environment, pursuing you passions may carry less risk than you think. In fact the biggest risk of all may be in not following them.
Do you ever dream of pursuing your passions? What keeps you from doing it?