Should I Quit My Job and Pursue My Passion?

Tokyo, 2016

Dear friend,

One question I asked myself for a long time (when I had a full-time job) was this: “Should I quit my full-time job, and pursue my passion full-time?”

Fate helped me

First of all, I was lucky. I didn’t quit my job to pursue my passion. Instead, my company laid me off— which gave me the opportunity to pursue my passion for a living.

For a while when I had a full-time job, I was always daydreaming about possibly saving up enough money, and quitting my job, and pursuing my passion (photography and blogging) full-time.

But the truth is that I didn’t have the courage. I never had enough money saved up. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t save more than $1,000 in my savings account. Hardly enough to have that ‘6 month buffer’ in terms of living expenses.

Put in the minimum amount at work (not) to get fired

What my personal suggestion is this: stay at your day-job, and do the minimum amount of work necessary at your job not to get fired. Then on the side, pursue your passion with all of your energy, soul, and effort.

Whether or not you will be able to pursue your passion for a living is besides the point. The point is for you to have the least amount of stress and friction at your full-time job, and the maximum amount of mental energy to pursue your passion.

Don’t try too hard at your day job

The mistake I made at my old job was trying too hard. Trying too hard to impress my boss. Trying too hard to increase my productivity numbers. Trying too hard by aiming for that promotion or raise.

What I should have done instead was to not take my job too seriously. To reap the benefits of my full-time job (steady monthly salary, health care, etc) while pursuing my passion of photography on the side (before work, during lunch break, after work, and on the weekends).

Not all of our passions can allow us to make a full-time living.

For example, just because you are passionate about something doesn’t mean you are world-class at it. And unfortunately, only world-class artists can make a living doing what they love. And a lot of what they do involves luck.

You can be a passionate stamp-collector. But can you make that into a full-time living? Probably not.

You can pursue your passion on the side

Also realize that making your passion into your full-time living is overrated. Einstein came up with the theory of relativity while he was working a menial job at the Swiss patent office. He put in the minimum work necessary for his job, and spent the rest of his time theorizing. The philosopher Spinoza made glasses, and therefore his philosophy wasn’t tainted.

I know a lot of photographers who have ‘day jobs’ like teachers, lawyers, doctors, janitors, firemen, police men, waiters, baristas, etc — who are phenomenal photographers. They just don’t pay their rent with their photography. And that isn’t a big deal. As long as you make beautiful art— you don’t need to make a living from it.

Hustle on the side

So to sum up, no, you probably shouldn’t quit your job and pursue your passion full-time.

However what I do recommend is trying to build up your business on the side (while working full-time at your job). Then with enough hard work, skill, and luck — you can perhaps make your passion into you living.

Learn how to turn your passion into your living

eric kim selfie

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