Pursuing Your Passion With No Money


(Image: Luciano Silva)

Hi Celes, I read your article about how you left your job to pursue your dreams. I did the same for a simpler reason – I had enough of being an employee (it’s been 10 years). However, with no income at all, I’m beginning to regret my decision at times. What is your opinion on this? – gabybali

Hey gabybali, thanks for your question :) Let us take a closer look at your situation.

Your current issue is you have no source of income. It’s not explicitly mentioned in your question, but I’m going to assume that this lack of income is starting to affect your physiological/security-related needs (such as living expenses including food, shelter), for it to become a concern. To a certain extent it is probably affecting your material needs as well.

When Money Becomes An Interference

When you have to worry about security needs, you enter into a survival, instinctual mode where you have to constantly worry about your every day livelihood and every single expenditure you make. And when you are constantly worrying, your connections to both the cognitive part of your brain and your intuition get shut down. You become constrained and set back by your lower-level needs. You can’t pursue your passion properly if you can’t tap into your full prowess. I ran into this situation for a short period of time after I quit my job last year and it was not a very optimal scenario to operate in.

Prolonged exposure to this circumstance worsens the situation. People who have not developed a strong connection to their passions will start questioning it and whether they made the right decision. They may start to regret their decision and belittle themselves and their passions.

If you are starting to develop self-doubting thoughts, put a brake on them immediately. When you took action to start pursuing your passion (assuming it was your true passion and not a lower-level whim), it marked the point when you listened to your heart and your intuition. That was when you deepened the connection with your higher self. That was when you moved up to a higher consciousness level, towards Courage. To doubt this would be to recede into lower conscious levels like Desire/Fear/Pride, where your thoughts and concerns become very much rooted from your ego.

This is a classic situation where many self proclaimed ‘realists’ will be quick to jump on. They constantly cite it as an example to justify (to themselves or others) why they are staying on in a passionless job they do not feel strongly about. They keep lauding about earning money, having to pay bills, living up to responsibilities, etc without any seeming end point. They harp on how they are not pursuing their passion because it will lead to nowhere. They advocate staying on in their current path as the ‘safer’, ‘more practical’ route.

Except that the issue is nothing to do with your passion or the pursuit of your passion. Living a life of your passion should always be your end point. The key question should instead be – How should you achieve that passion?

Since money is the issue here, let’s look at how to get the money. There are a few ways to go about doing this.

Route A: Waiting For Your Passion To Generate Revenue

The first way is to pump every single bit of your resources (time, money, energy) into your passion and expect it to churn out revenue at a certain stage. You dedicate all of yourself into pursuing your passion and ignore the issue of no income, refusing to let it bother you.

The problem with this scenario is your original issue of not having sufficient money for security needs remains a glaring concern. It’s something that will not get resolved and will continue to shout at you every day until you start earning actual revenue.

This means you start hinging on your passion to generate you money, which in turn means your passion becomes wrapped with a certain level of desperation, anxiety, and fear. You become dependent on the probability that your venture will earn you money at X period of time, which may or may not take place. This is highly risky.

Many people who start out with new ventures fall into this pit. They jump straight into the thick of things, invest all their money into it, slough off from day and night and become increasingly desperate when things don’t map out the way they want. Their increased anxiety leads them to make poor decisions of which the consequences ripple out into everything they do. In the end, when their ventures do not take off, things end up crashing and burning.

There’s a difference between jumping off the plane screaming and yelling without a parachute, and jumping off with a parachute secured on your back. Unless you are highly confident that you can generate revenue with your venture in your expected time period, route A falls under the first scenario. The second scenario applies to route B.

Route B: Seeking Alternative Sources of Income

Route B is to seek alternative sources of revenue. It can be a full-time job, part-time, freelancing, an investment etc. The objective is to earn sufficient money such that security concerns stop becoming a nag at your back and you can dedicate yourself to fully pursue your passion outside of that.

These sources of income should be stable and ideally non-time consuming so you can get the money concern off your back. This means the jobs you get yourself into should require minimal commitment – i.e. no overtime hours, not requiring you to pick up totally new skills just to get the job (e.g. moving into graphic design when you have no background in designing at all). The best case is if the side job you find matches as much of your values and desires as possible.

This should be an interim solution and not a final solution. When you have the money issue out of the way, quickly orientate yourself to pursuing what you want to do. Identify plans to get out of the situation ASAP. Find ways to quickly generate revenue with your passion.

This was in fact what I was doing previously in my personal development business. I wasn’t earning anything a few months ago. I was giving free coaching. I had speaking engagements lined up for the upcoming months but they would only generate me revenue when the engagement was complete. I had advertising on my blog which wasn’t generating significant revenue to sustain me.

Hence, I started brainstorming on alternative sources of revenue outside of my business. I thought of returning to full-time corporate work, but that was a full-fledged commitment which encompassed traveling and investment of extra hours outside of the 9-6 regime. It was a More with More Path that could get me to where I wanted eventually, but it was not the ideal way. This was why I decided against it eventually.

I brainstormed for a More with Less Path. I thought about a series of possibilities, from becoming a part-time waitress, working at Starbucks, going back into graphic design (I was a freelance graphic designer in the past), among others.

After some consideration, I decided on tuition (academic coaching) to school students. Tuition is a very popular part-time job in Singapore, especially since academic excellence is a very key focus area here. When I was studying as an undergraduate, I was working as a tutor as well, so it’s something I’m already familiar with. I just needed to quickly look through the new syllabus to get right back into the hang of it. Apart from that, giving tuition was a low commitment job (about 2-3 hours required per student per week) that gave me decent amount of money to get by. It also utilized an aspect of coaching and comes under a subset of ‘helping others to achieve their highest potential’, so it was really a perfect alternative income source for me.

With my monetary concerns out of the way, I was able to focus on my personal development work fully (when I was not giving tuition). I continued to ensure I was investing sufficient time every day to work on my business, particularly the revenue generation pieces so the money could start coming in sooner than later. And today, that has come into fruition, especially after the media coverage in local media which drew in new coaching and speaking opportunities. :D

What can you do to get revenue rolling in while still being able to pursue your passion? What is the More For Less Path or 80-20 route in your scenario? Keep your end objective in mind and don’t get deviated by a temporal issue such as money. This will be just one out of the many other challenges that will face you along the way and you need to stay strong. If money is a barrier stopping you from getting what you want, then find ways to get the money first. Once you get your lower-level needs resolved, you will be able to get back into pursuing your passion again. :)

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