When it comes to the question of trying to find a career that unites your passion with adequate income, any choice you make can feel like leaping off a steep cliff into the ocean: you're not sure if the landing will cripple you or if you'll dive gracefully into new depths.
"Heart-based" business owners such as coaches, healers, service-based entrepreneurs face unique challenges when it comes to creating a business that thrives. Not only do they have to make a profit from their work, but they're tasked with the soul-shaking challenge of staying true to who they are and what they believe in.
My life became punctuated with more anxiety and debilitating fear than ever when I decided I wanted to start my own writing coaching business. It felt like I had deliberately chosen the strength-by-fire approach; but giving up seemed just as ridiculous as pressing on.
My heart was lit up by the calling to live on purpose, and I've learned a thing or two about what it means to make your passion your work.
1. Listen to the voice that won't shut up.
I've always been a writer, but I never quite knew where this calling would lead me in life. I dabbled in other creative professional pursuits, but an obnoxious voice seemed to always be bellowing from within, "You're a writer. Write, dummy." You can try on different hats, experiment with different business ideas, but that persistent voice — the one who knows your true gift and purpose — is there for a reason. If you ignore it, it will just get louder. So give in. Follow it blindly and it will lead you where you need to be.
2. Pivot if you need to. And don't hate yourself for it.
In working with small business owners, I've found there's a common fear: people are deathly afraid to change directions. They think they need to pick a business idea and stick with it. Not so. Your brand will change. You will change. This is part of the unfolding. Start somewhere and let your passion guide you. See change as a natural part of refining your goals, and yourself.
3. Tattoo your vision on your forehead.
The problems I run into on a daily basis usually stem from losing touch with why I'm doing what I'm doing. I get caught up in the details, the headaches, the obstacles. But all of that seems to fall away when I take a breath and remind myself why I started my business in the first place. So write down your vision for your work and put it somewhere you'll see it every single day. Come back to this as a mantra whenever you get bogged down in fear or stress.
4. Find a herd.
When you buck the trend and decide to strike out on your own, your family and friends won't always understand, or even support, the process. So be it. Wrap up the pity party and go find yourself a tribe: people who get your possibly mad, optimistic, sometimes anal-retentive entrepreneurial spirit. Connect with other business owners who are in your field. Join groups. Attend lectures. Browse Facebook, blogs, or forums and commit to finding a band of cronies. You'll get there. And they'll get you where you're going much faster.
5. Get a life.
When people suggest you need to work 18-hour days and become a total stress case in order to accomplish a dream of building your own business, I get irritated. I bought into that lie at first, but the approach failed me quickly. What I realized is that I needed to get a life. I needed to give myself days off. I needed my friends. I needed good food, vacations, and sunshine on my skin. These things will feed your soul and, therefore, they'll feed your business.
Wherever you are on your path, stop what you're doing and silently congratulate yourself. It takes a certain variety of spiritual badass to heed your internal calling and muster the courage to do what you love.
And the money? Well, as most passion-following, magic-manifesting, big-thinking entrepreneurs know, the money is just a perk.