How to make money doing what you love
Finding fulfilment in your job and being financially comfortable are not necessarily mutually exclusive, says a new book on the topic. Readers share their insights on what it takes
According to a 2017 survey, three out of every five Indian employees hate their jobs. And while their reasons for chronic clock-watching at the workplace can vary from unpleasant colleagues to long working hours, a significant proportion of these dissatisfied workers claim that they simply don't love what they do. Ask them to follow their hearts into a career they find personally fulfilling and you'll also have to content with the unpleasant, but very pertinent, question of the pay-check. In other words, how do you reconcile the need to make a living with the irreplaceable joy that comes from pursuing your passion? According to Chandan Deshmukh, author of the recently published book, 7 Dream Jobs And How To Find Them, the two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. As the title of his tome suggests, every individual has seven potential dream jobs that are both financially and emotionally rewarding. The key, he says, is to understand what these jobs are and map out a specific game plan to build the career of your dreams. We also asked mid-day readers who have given up the corporate mainstream to pursue their passion.
Develop a toolbox of skills
In his book, Deshmukh describes the first three to four years of your career as the 'backpacker phase'. This, he says, is the starting point of your career where you use the lessons learned from your college, internships, training period at your first job and your probation period to discover your competencies and your shortcomings. You will also learn to build saleable skills. In this phase, he recommends trying your hand at as many different kinds of tasks and assignments as possible. "Get feedback from managers and peers who can help you identify your strengths, weaknesses, sweet spots and areas that need improvement," he adds. Harsh Vaidya, the 35-year-old founder of Tree Box shares a similar view. "After my first MBA, I started working with then one of the best real estate companies as a brand manager. I then pursued another MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and eventually took up a job as a senior brand manager. However, I was keen to combine my passion for farming with the desire to start a venture of my own. I took the lessons learned from my MBAs and corporate stints to initiate a crowd-funding campaign. I used this money to buy six acres of land and start India's first subscription-based organic fruits and vegetables delivery service. The skills and know-how I gained from my education and professional stints helped me devise and scale an innovative business model," he says.
Evolve with your interests
"People evolve and grow all the time," says Deshmukh. Accordingly, the things you may have found compelling in your 20s may no longer bring you joy in your 30s. Conversely, you may have developed new skills and abilities that make it far easier to pursue a career in the field of your choice. Writer and filmmaker Michael Burns explains, "I made documentary films until I became interested in writing. I now teach writing in my own company as well as at Flame University, Pune. While I have always believed that storytelling is the superpower of our species, I was initially drawn to the visual side of stories and accordingly dabbled in film-making. With time, I became more interested in the nuances of creative writing and also found that there exists a massive market for teaching because, sadly, there is a lot of bad advice out there on how to write," he says. At the same time, he warns that there are no guarantees. "While I love my work and students, and my clients value the observations and advice I give, if something were to change, I would find another outlet to channel my passion for storytelling and nurture that with the hopes that I can share and thereby sustain myself," he says.
Cast a wide net
While most people can attest to being unhappy with the job they're doing, they unfortunately don't have an answer to what it is that brings them joy. If you are at the crossroads of your career, desperate for a rehaul but not sure about where to get started, Deshmukh suggests developing multiple skills before zeroing on the one you find most viable. Fashion stylist Sonali Gadiya says, "When it came to choosing my career path, I thought back to a form I'd filled out in the ninth grade. In it, I'd proposed three future achievements — building a career in fashion, writing and psychology. This gave me some idea of my broad areas of interest. At the age of 19, I had already begun working as a celebrity fashion stylist, while studying psychology and English literature. I had also begun content writing and an advanced course in French. Eventually, I settled on fashion. I'd also recommend seeking the guidance of a mentor — I worked with a few stylists in my formative years until I was confident about branching out by myself. It's also important to not wait too long. While pursuing your full-time job, you can take up individual assignments in your spare time and develop your skills, reputation and network," she says. Deshmukh calls these gigs your "Sunday side hustles'" or your passion projects. "It helps if you can also monetise these projects. In fact, studies say that no matter what industry you choose to build your career in, you'll eventually get bored. As the markets keep changing, the jobs that are in demand today might not exist tomorrow. This can make you anxious and fearful about losing your job. All this can be negated if you have more than one source of income. Mental and financial security is the first step towards pursuing other things," he says.
Don't be blinded by finances
In his book, Deshmukh writes, "For the first few years at least, keep earning money off your hobby on the back burner. If you start thinking about how much money you could make from the very beginning, you might instantaneously limit your options, and you might not find the thing you love, or it may not remain your passion for long. You may even subconsciously try to find things that you could make money out of, but are not passionate about. This will eventually make you unhappy because it will become a chore. Add this to your life on top of an unhappy job and it becomes a recipe for disaster." Shivani Patel, founder of 88 Piano Academy, agrees with this observation. "I had completed my masters in communication and worked in the Corporate Communications team of a bank for close to three years. While pursuing my studies, I would teach music to the partners and children of my professors after lectures. Word of my work as a music teacher got around. This inspired me to pursue music full-time even when I was barely making anything from it. With time and by developing unique offerings with my brother Vivek, our venture began to thrive. Over the last couple of years, we have been featured on various platforms and have grown exponentially. It is also important to periodically evaluate what you are bringing to the field as a professional. If you lose sight of this, you will invariably falter," she says.
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