Work v.s. Other Passions

Hi Paulo, My dilemma is should I be exerting more effort in this business I’m currently in and try to work on my passions simultaneously, or should I try to wind this one down as I search for something else like a non-profit business which is more planet friendly?? How do I get clear about a specific direction for myself? I am just so scattered and have so many interests; its really difficult for me to narrow it down. Thank you so much for all you do, you are really a great inspiration!
— Glenda, Las Vegas, NV

Glenda, some people are more focused than others by temperament. For instance, I am disposed toward a love of variety (it’s not ADHD, I swear :-). When I first became an entrepreneur, my business suffered by developing three unrelated kinds of software, and eventually went belly up — partially as a result of a lack of focus, marketing synergy and efficiency. The design and development process satisfied my creative desire to do new things, but my scatteredness made the company non-sustainable, relative to the higher priorities of making payroll and paying the rent.

The answer to your dilemma lies in identifying your current hierarchy of values and being totally clear what your higher priority is, in order to make a balanced decision. Even though I was more excited about my work than you seem to be right now, I still kept up various creative passions on the side. I took classes. I wrote. I did some speaking. I volunteered as a meditation teacher. And I’ve been host of a community radio interview show for 26 years (listen to podcasts). I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to devote to these extra-curricular activities while I was trying to make ends meet, but I never let go of them … and now that I sold my last business, I do them full-time!

My last company was a success partly because I put a 2-man Advisory Board in place and didn’t make any strategic decisions for ten years without convincing at least one of them. These guys were not yes-men — they were more like mentors … and focus was their middle name (I gave them stock to help with that :-). And if they hadn’t talked me out of all kinds of ‘creative’ ideas that I passionately argued for, my second company probably would have not done so well either.

It doesn’t matter so much what your “day-job” is — as long as it’s not harmful … it’s ok for you to stick with, or go with, the one that simply pays the best. Money isn’t everything, but as one who has worked without pay a lot, I know how important financial sustainability is (especially so during times of high unemployment). Switching jobs is expensive … switching careers is very expensive. But if you are under 40 — or have a lot of savings, and you are strongly attracted to a specific different career that can support you, it might be worth a switch.

Being able to make a living doing something you love is very cool, but it is a rare luxury. By the way, this is a good type of question to divinate on! Ask the I Ching or Tarot “What is the best approach to take vis-a-vis my career? or work-choices?”