Passion Paycheck

Heart in hand

(Image: Romel)

(This post was published in May 2009, five months after I started Personal Excellence.)

For those of you who are working, you are probably used to getting your paycheck every month. However, have you received a passion paycheck before?

A passion paycheck is the paycheck you get from pursuing something of your truest passion. This paycheck isn’t limited to the dictionary definition of a paycheck — it can be cash payment, a cheque, etc., as long as there is some form of monetary value in it.

For me, it’s already been seven months since I quit my ex-company in Oct ’08, and also seven months since I last drew a monthly income.

First Few Months of Pursuing My Passion

After quitting my job in Oct ’08, I wasn’t earning any revenue from my personal development work in the first four months. I spent the first month, Oct ’08, relaxing and took a spiritual retreat in Chengdu (China). Nov ’08 was when I crystallized my vision for my personal development work and solidified my goals, strategies and plans.

In Dec ’08, I started the first pillar of my personal development work, which was my blog. I focused my efforts on content building and traffic generation, rather than on revenue generation. There were three reasons behind this.

Firstly, my base assumption was that I would be returning to corporate world after a few months, so earning money in the meantime wasn’t exactly an issue. Of course, that changed four months later in March 2009 when I decided not to return to corporate work.

Secondly, it was important for me to focus on the fundamentals such as traffic and web presence first, before trying to earn the money. Trying to do otherwise seemed like putting the cart before the horse to me.

Thirdly, value creation – helping others be their best – was my top priority and I wanted to single-mindedly focus it. I did not want to be side-tracked with money objectives in the process. I was also not hard up anyway to earn revenue, due to the assumption that I was returning to work.

Thus, for the first two months of my site launch, I purely focused on value creation and did nothing in terms of revenue generation. I was tapping into my savings and was genuinely, extremely happy. However, I understood this wasn’t a sustainable model, and made plans for monetization.

My First Source of Revenue: My First 5 Cents

In Feb ’09, with my web traffic increasing to a somewhat sizable figure of a few thousand unique visitors per day, I thought it was a good time to start placing some advertising to start earning some revenue from my personal development work.

I signed up for an account on Google Adsense. Upon being approved as an advertiser, I inserted some basic text ad links on the sidebar as a test run. With that, I went on with my daily activities while excitedly anticipating the performance of the ads.

To be honest, I was half-expecting nothing to come out of it since 1) it was a very basic, unoptimized ad placement 2) my traffic at that point comprised of a higher percentage of one-time visitors (from social bookmarking sites) who tend to quickly glance through websites and surf away immediately afterward.

Regardless, the next morning, I logged in and checked my Adsense account with abated breath.

And what did I see?

A grand total of $0.05 staring back at me on the Adsense reporting page!!


As much as it was just a negligible amount of 5 cents, it got me really psyched up! :D This excitement wasn’t so much surrounding the amount in question per se as it was evidence that I had my first pillar of revenue generation established.

Take for example, building a water pipe connecting the main water supply to the tap in the sink. Being able to see just one drop of water dripping from the tap in your sink is a form of evidence that the water pipe is functional. This 5 cents was precisely (and almost literally) the first drop of water. This 5 cents I received was official proof that I had the basics in place to at least generate 5 cents in what I was doing. This 5 cents was my first payoff for all the hard work I was putting in my personal development work in the past few months. It was absolutely the beginning of more 5 cents to come.

My Passion Paycheck

Fast forward to two months later, which is now — May ’09. Since then, I have started including different revenue streams, such as Donations, Coaching services and Speaking services.

Last month, April ’09, was when I’m generating actual, proper revenue for my personal development work. A quick run-down of my revenue streams up till the month of Apr ’09:

  • Google Adsense: Generated $109.62 USD since I’ve set it up two months ago. These would be the google ads you see around the site. Please check out the ads and take some time to visit my sponsors’ sites if you are interested.
  • Amazon: The Amazon affiliate links has generated $0.72 USD thus far. I’m fine with this and never expected Amazon to be a big contributor in my revenue. My intention for putting up the Amazon links is really to promote books I personally recommend, vs. earning money, since affiliate marketing through books is known to generate weak revenue with the low commission rates and books being low ticket items (low prices).
  • Coaching: April marks the month where I shifted from pro bono coaching to charging for my coaching services, to address the huge demand in coaching requests due to the media coverage a month back. So far, I have received $433.33 USD for my coaching, with more to come soon. (To all my coachees, thank you very much for being so gracious with your donation fees :) )
  • Others: In terms of other revenue sources, I have received donations amounting to $74 USD from readers, who do so in appreciation of all the work I put into writing my articles and pursuing my passion. (Thank you so much to all of you who have donated to me; you know who you are! I really appreciate your kind gesture, no matter what the amount is).
  • Speaking: I’m engaged for a few upcoming speeches – but as payments for speeches only come about after the rendering of the service, I will count this as $0 for now.

In total, my income in the past 2 months has amounted to to $617.67 USD.

This comes across as a small amount to many. An average paycheck easily amounts to $2,000 USD, and this is less than 1-third of it. Factor in how much I was earning in my previous company (almost $50,000 USD/yr), and this easily pales in comparison. In the past, $616.67 USD was an amount I could easily finish spending during my shopping trips in Bangkok or Taipei.

On a per-hour basis, I’m earning less than $4 USD/hour. I spend substantial hours on my personal development work. For example, for each article I write on the blog, I easily spend 5-10 hours, because I want to be sure I’m putting up only the best possible content here. Many readers and coachees have told me they get a lot of personal insights and revelations from reading my articles. It’s not by accident that the articles come across as that. Much time has been invested in the conscious crafting, designing and writing of them. My most lengthy and in-depth articles and series take several days to write up. Another example would be my coaching. For my coaching sessions, the work doesn’t just span within the coaching session – I spend extra time doing preparation work before and after the sessions to ensure my coachee gets the best out of the coaching. I can earn more working at McDonald’s or Pizza Hut.

But hey – you know what?

It isn’t about the amount of money.

This paycheck is hands down, the most satisfying, meaningful and impactful paycheck than any paycheck I have ever received before in my life – whether it was when I was teaching tuition during university, when I was running my graphic/web design business, or even when I was in my brand management career.

For one, it’s reciprocation for my hard work. It’s money which I have painstakingly earned through hours of real, hard work. I’m dedicated to doing my best in everything I do, and my personal development work is no different. All the hours spent writing articles, working on my site, researching on blogging/writing/marketing, reading up on personal development to improve myself, marketing my articles, coaching, preparing for coaching, promoting my blog. All the time I invested in setting up my business, running it and pushing it to greater grounds.

It’s also a paycheck of deep love. I fervently pursue my life purpose and passion in helping others to grow. I dedicate myself towards ensuring I’m creating and giving the best value I can towards my cause. I do everything with deepest love. As I give out these pure intentions of love, I know I’m constantly receiving the love back in other forms – the growth of the people whose lives I’ve touched, their feedback/emails/messages, their positive energies, the mysterious ways of the universe – and also, this paycheck. This paycheck is a representation of the value I am receiving, because of the value I’m giving to the world for pursuing my cause.

It is also a source of affirmation. This affirmation comes from two places.

First, it’s affirmation from people around me – people who recognizes the value I’m offering. They return this recognition in the form of money, since money is a commonly established form of value in the society. The higher the money involved, the higher they regard the value I am giving to the society. I use the amount of money as a loose indicator of how much value I’m providing and to strive to increase the value I’m giving to others.

Second, it’s affirmation from the universe. This paycheck is like one of the universe’s many ways of telling me its aware of what I’m doing and wanting to affirm my actions. It’s as if it is saying, “Hey Celes! I know you are living your passion and I want to support you in full force! Here’s some money to keep you going for now; please continue with the great work and we will get more money for you in due time!”

It’s a paycheck of opportunities. Opportunities to continue on with what I’m doing. Opportunities to continue on in my work and impact even more people’s lives. In the course of my work in the past few months, I have received multitudes of feedback from my readers and coachees on how their lives have improved and changed from reading my articles and/or my coaching; Feedback which has touched me deeply. Changes such as quitting their jobs to pursue their passion, getting over disappointments, taking action in their lives, rediscovering meaning in living, finding their life purpose, or even simple acts such as decluttering their room and making it an inspirational haven and creating a life handbook. This paycheck represents me the ability to continue on what I’m doing and the opportunity to help even more people grow and embrace better lives. One of my long-term visions is to set up a life development school and this passion paycheck will be the first building chip towards that.

This is the power of a passion paycheck. A paycheck earned from truly, fully pursuing your dreams; your highest goals; your deepest passion. The magic behind a passion paycheck goes beyond the amount it comes in. The magic lies in the intention and meaning behind the amount. It’s a paycheck with meaning so deep that it can’t be found in any other paychecks.

Other paychecks simply represent money to most people. Probably a means to acquire things they want – things which will allow them to be happy, to be free, to feel better. But these gratifications come from the money itself, which can be derived from exchanging their labor for any other job. To some, paychecks act as a form of recognition and appreciation for their hard work. But again, this hard work is something that can come with anything they do – it is definitely not exclusive to what they are doing.

A passion paycheck brings a whole new level of depth, meaning, resonance, love, excitement, fulfillment and reverberance inside of you which cannot be brought about with any other paychecks. These meanings and emotions only exist if you hold fervent passion towards your work. Without such passion, your paychecks essentially become soulless paychecks – paychecks which you just get for the monetary value. Nothing more, nothing less.

I may be receiving less than 1/5 of the paycheck I used to receive. But the satisfaction and exuberance I am getting from this paycheck is way more — it’s 5, or even 10 times more — than the paychecks I used to get.

And it’s not going to just end here. There are going to be more passion paychecks to come, and I know it’s simply going to be even better each time. I know this feeling of resonance is going to get even stronger as I align myself more and more with my purpose. It’s the start of many more great things to come. :D I’ll be setting greater revenue goals as I start accumulating money for future plans (e.g. to set up a school). At some point I envision I will earn way more than the amount I used to earn in the past.

How about you? Are you getting passion paychecks every month? Or are you just getting soulless paychecks?

What are the things which you are passionate about? What can you start doing in them to start getting your passion paychecks? How can you start getting your first passion paycheck in? What can you do to start creating more passion paychecks, to the point where you only get passion paychecks for the rest of your life?

Check out my How To Pursue Your Passion series for more articles on pursuing your passion.