“I know what I want to do, but it won’t pay the bills!”

My answer to that is “It may not pay them all right away, but don’t let that be a reason to stay stuck.”

When Doing What You Love Won’t Pay the BillsOne of the biggest obstacles to people making a change (when they DO know what they want to do) is math. The math doesn’t add up to making the monthly/annual nut from day one.

“Yes, that’s true. AND… .?”


It could add up after the first year
It could make you enough money on the side to create some savings for when you attempt full time
It could put you in the position to create an alliance with someone else where you can get paid right away
It could take longer than you’d like to make the change, but you can use that time to pave the path in the new direction
It could leverage you for new opportunities that you can’t even imagine yet
It could work right away!

This is not Pollyanna speaking. This is 25 years of evidence doing the talking.

I’ve seen artists leave teaching jobs to make it creating their art full time.
I’ve seen doctors move on to related fields and be successful after much angst
over possibly losing their credibility
I’ve seen musicians leave their day jobs and develop their own unique opportunities.
I’ve seen executives change fields successfully, having no experience in the new one
I’ve seen lawyers use their training in a way that was a benefit in non-law jobs

They all made the math work … eventually.

How do you DO that?

Prepare: If you know you are ready to do something else and you know what it is despite HUGE reasons to stay put, you must start preparing.

  • If you don’t have what Stephen Covey called a “possibilities account,” aka savings to invest in yourself, start cutting back on expenses in order to create a cushion.
  • If your new direction offers an opportunity to start making money right away, start! And bank all that money to support a future leap.
  • Involve family and friends in setting the stage for a new direction. Support makes a difference and holds you accountable.
  • Complete any training or studying you need for your new direction BEFORE dropping your income.

I’m working with a woman on the operational side of show business who wants to move into another aspect of the field. She has started delegating to more junior people in her office to free up her time. She has begun asking for introductions and meeting with relevant contacts. She takes an extra hour before work studying up on people and projects she wants to be knowledgeable about. Over the course of a few short weeks, she has made solid progress toward making a change. Preparation is making a huge difference, and she is moving very quickly towards solidifying her first opportunity to make money in the new area.

Execute: Start making inroads

  • If you need to become known in a new field, start asking for introductions and contacting strangers to gain information and to let them know what you are interested in.
  • Volunteer in your desired field to get experience and meet as many people as you can while doing so
  • Do what you want to do. Just do it. Start blogging, creating your art, volunteering your expertise or even charging for it. Just get going!
  • Get your resume ready, design the website, order the new business card. Just take steps in the new direction, no matter how big or small.
  • Explore the many possible ways your desired direction could provide income. For example, my son who started in music playing only one instrument, has no intention of being a poor musician. He’s learned how to program synthesizers, taught himself how to operate sound equipment and musical computer programs, jumped into musically directing musicals, volunteered as musical coordinator, contacted people who play on Broadway who have let him sit in on their show, and taught himself other instruments. He has been making money at most of these things since before his junior year of college. I’ve seen adults successfully take similarly fruitful steps in non-artistic contexts. Diversifying makes it likely you’ll work in the field of your dreams.

Leap: When the day job is getting in the way of the new thing … LEAP.

  • If you’ve prepared and executed, there may come an obvious moment where the math still isn’t quite right, but jumping in with full attention is now the only way it has any hope of ever adding up.

In closing, I’m reminded about a very likely obstacle that might be making you resistant to everything I’m suggesting here. TIME. You might be thinking: “I haven’t got time to do all this.” Yes. And? That’s for a whole other post.

I’ll leave you with this:
“We make time for what we want to make time for.”

Now go run those numbers again … let me know how we can help.