For the past two weeks, our podcast has featured entrepreneurs who have worked hard to build a business centered around their passion. If you missed those great interviews check out Tes’ story of creating Run Social Atlanta and Becky’s story of starting Infinity Yoga. These women are inspiring and they may have sparked a desire to live out your own dream. You find yourself wanting to:

Create your own path…..

Reach for the stars…..

Follow your passion….

There are hundreds of other motivational quotes imposed on beautiful pictures that will inspire you to follow your passion, but before you do, it’s time for a reality check.  Take a solid assessment of your life to see if this is the right time. Here are a few key categories to think through as you make your decision:

Finances

How much debt do you have?

Debt won’t disqualify you from pursuing your passion but it can make it very difficult. If you find yourself with more than $10,000 in debt whether it’s school loans, credit cards, or car payments (we don’t include a mortgage because you’ll need to cover living expenses), then you probably want to aggressively pay down that debt before pursuing a passion. You could be looking at 2-5 very lean years once you start pursuing this dream full-time and the last thing you want to do is have the added stress of increasing debts.

You may look at your loans and feel helpless to pay them off. I once worked with some recent college graduates who wanted to move to Italy and work with a nonprofit. They had close to $30,000 in school loans so they delayed their dream and aggressively paid down their debt. Both worked well-paying jobs that they didn’t particularly enjoy. They packed their lunches and ate dinners at home. They didn’t take vacations and planned date nights at free or very inexpensive events. They didn’t purchase new clothing and took housesitting, pet-sitting, and babysitting jobs on the side. After just two years, they had completely paid off their school loans. They were able to move and pursue their dreams without the burden of their debt. It can be done. You just need an aggressive plan!

If you find yourself in a tough financial situation, we recommend Dave Ramsey as a great source of financial advice.

How much money do you need to make every month to cover your expenses?

Take a realistic look at what you need to make each month to cover your living expenses. The goal is for your passion to become a viable source of income but it may take a few years to get there. Can you downsize in any way? Sell a car that you have payments on to get a used car with no payments? Can you cut your cable? Downsize your living situation? Start packing your lunch or break your Starbucks habit? When you decide what sacrifices you’re willing to make, create a reasonable budget that you can live with while pursuing this passion.

How much can you save?

Ideally, you’ll have the equivalent of 4-6 months of income set aside in an emergency savings account. This money is only used for emergencies. You may have some lean months where you’re just making it and suddenly your car breaks down. You want to have a reserve that you can tap into without going into debt.

 

What kind of insurance do you need?

With the change in the marketplace in the past decade, insurance and benefits are easier than ever to get for individuals but if you’re going from a corporate environment that provides good insurance and benefits, you may encounter some sticker shock when you start to do your research.

 

Relationships

Do the people closest to you believe in you and believe that this is the right step for you? Don’t be afraid of the people in your life who ask you the hard questions. They are the people who are going to help you refine your plan and if you

Don’t be afraid of the people in your life who ask you the hard questions. They are the people who are going to help you refine your plan and if you consistently hear the people in your life question whether or not this is a good idea, you might want to reconsider or at least consider that now is not the time.

Is your spouse on board?

There is no better way to ruin a relationship than to move forward without the buy-in of your spouse or significant other. The change you are planning to make will not only impact you but the other person as well. You need to have some very open conversations about his/her risk tolerance and what this will mean for your lifestyle.

Self-Management

Have you learned the skills that will be needed to manage yourself? Going from a job that may be highly

Going from a job that may be highly structured with someone giving you a timeline to having your own deliverables can be challenging if you’ve never worked in an environment that is completely dependent upon you.

Working on your own business or project can also be very lonely. How will you manage your work week or time? Can you use a coworking space a few days a week? Can you join a mastermind or networking group? What organizations can you be involved with that will help you hone your skills and get you out of the house? Do you have a good office set up in your home?

How will you ‘turn off the job’? One of the most surprising things people find when they go from working for someone else to building their own business is how difficult it is to just relax. There is always something else that could be done but everyone needs time to rest and play. FIguring out how to ‘turn off’ the work is an important part of self-management.

Is now the time?

Is this dream so compelling that it’s going to be worth the sacrifices, (especially the short-term ones) that you have to make?

or another question to ask yourself might be:

Is there something significant in your life that you’ll miss out on if you start this?

For example, we’ve met individuals who have delayed opportunities because of the life stage their kids were in. One friend chose to delay his ideas for a year because his daughter was a senior in high school and an active soccer player. To start his own project would mean missing out on many of the really important markers in her life. Sometimes it takes as much courage not to do the thing you want as it does to take the leap.

Is there something significant in your life that you’ll miss out on if you start this project now? For example, we’ve met individuals who have delayed opportunities because of the life stage their kids were in. One friend chose to delay his ideas a year because his daughter was a senior in high school and an active soccer player. To start his own project would mean missing out on many of the really important markers in her life. Sometimes it takes as much courage not to do the thing you want as it does to take the leap.

If you’re ready to take the next steps, check out Plywood People, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that leads a community of start-ups who are doing good. They have a six-week learning community called, Path by Plywood, designed to take your ideas into purpose-driven work.

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