A friend of mine recently went to college to follow his dream career. He graduated, got a job, and was incredibly excited to start this new journey of life. Within a few months, he realized something was wrong with his dream. While he did love what he was doing, it seemed to have lost some luster since turning it into a job. Now, he works another career that he enjoys and turned his dream into an enjoyable hobby. His realization made me see that not all ideas are meant to be careers. The problem is, how do you know if you should pursue a job or just keep it as a hobby?
My story varies from his. I went through life hating every job I had and waiting for one to fit finally. It didn't happen until I took the plunge and started a writing career. This was something that I had wanted to do since I was a little kid. I love waking up every day and getting to do what I love while getting paid to do it. For me, my dreams were a right fit for a career. That being said, it wasn't easy to get to this point, and I understand the fear in giving up your life to pursue a passion. Especially since some fantasies don't turn out the way you initially saw them in your head.
What I can say is that my friend does not regret a single day of his journey. Yes, he has bills and loans that he has to pay off, and now his dream is a mere hobby. He still regrets none of it. For him, taking the plunge into this career was worth every moment. Now he can say that he has more knowledge in the field and feels fulfilled knowing that he did try and succeed at his goals. Simply put, he would willingly strive and fail than never attempt at all.
Your dream might not end up being your career. This knowledge does not mean you should not still try. We never know what a road will take us to, but being scared of this path is not an excuse for skipping the track altogether. Even if you fail or end up not happy with the outcome, you at least have that knowledge under your belt. Some people might see this as failing, but it is merely a new beginning. This means you can try out new passions and see which one fits your life. After all, our life should be spent doing what we love with the short amount of time we have.
So, how do you know if a dream is a career?
In my opinion, the best answer for you is to go out and take that plunge. If you feel you will enjoy this career path than it is worth the risk. I am so incredibly grateful that I decided to take that dive into the unknown. For my friend, he is also happy that he tried it out. Now he has a hobby that he could make money from and a job that he does enjoy. That is one critical component to all of this. Just because a passion doesn't end in profit does not mean you can't find a job you enjoy.
So many of us stay at a place because it pays the bills and puts food on the table. While this is great, I promise you can find a career that you enjoy that does the same thing. It might seem like a scary jump to make, but nothing great ever comes from the safety of your comfort zone. You also don't have to jump into the deep end right away.
When I first started my writing career, I still had a full-time job that brought in money. It was hard work, but I forced myself to work this 9 to 5 job before going home and spending 5-6 hours working on my passion. Baby steps are better than not moving at all. What a lot of people don't realize is that you are going to sacrifice to gain anything. For example, I sacrificed my time to turn my passion into a career. I no longer watched TV, went out with friends, or worked on other hobbies. Every moment I wasn't doing something, I was writing.
This phase doesn't last forever (and doesn't have to be miserable). I still scheduled a day for myself and had amazing memories during this journey. Sacrificing doesn't have to be painful, it just requires hard work and determination. Find what you are willing to live without and budget your time during the day to accomplish your goals. The journey should be just as exciting as the end goal. For most people, they find out during these moments if it will be worth it or not.
You will have bad days, but not all days should feel horrible. I would be lying if I didn't think about giving up at least 100 times during this process. However, the thought of that always saddened me and didn't feel right. Work towards a goal but remember to assess your happiness along the way. What is the worst thing that could happen? You fail or end up not enjoying your dream. If this happens, you can try again or start on a new journey. That is the great thing about this life. It isn't only one road that we take in our lives.
No matter what, I still encourage anyone I talk with to try and pursue their dreams. At the very least, you can finally stop asking yourself that what if question. Trust me; no one ever regrets trying to follow a passion. You will only regret not taking that dive and following that road of happiness.