Your Day Job Doesn’t Have to Be Your Passion

deskWriting


I have a 9-5 job as a data analyst that I enjoy for the most part, but I wouldn’t classify it as my number one passion in life. What I really love doing in my free time is writing and creating. Writing can be challenging work but it’s something I do every single day because it’s meaningful to me. I consider each day successful if I’m able to wake up and write for a few hours.

My love of writing and finance is why I started this blog in the first place. But not long after I started this blog I began to catch what I call “Blogger’s Fever”, where I began to focus more and more on the page views and how to monetize the site.

A few months ago I was feeling particularly discouraged about my low monthly page views and my inability to monetize this blog. I was frustrated that I couldn’t turn my passion into a source of income. I was at a point where I questioned whether all my writing was in vain.

One morning I decided to write a short letter to myself as a reminder of why I even started this blog in the first place. It turned out to be a tremendously helpful wake up call that helped me realize my passion (writing) did not have to be my job (data analyst).

I hope this letter might inspire other people to pursue their art, craft, calling, or passion even if they’re unable to turn it into their full time job. Here’s the letter I wrote to myself in it’s raw, unedited form:


Zach,

Consider the fact that your blog and your writing may never ever be profitable and you might not make a single dime off of it. Consider the fact that you might never get more than an average of 10,000 page views per month and you’ll never be featured in a magazine or on the front page of Yahoo. Consider the fact that you could write relentlessly for the next 6 years and still never be profitable or ever become well known from this blog. Would you still write? If yes, why would you still write? What drives you to still write if nobody ever reads your stuff and you can’t make a living off of it?

It’s because writing transcends money and fame. It goes beyond just having the satisfaction of a lot of page views and making a lot of money. Writing is about the human experience.  It’s highly likely that you’ll ever make a living off this blog. But write because it brings you joy, because it’s about more than forcing a good thing to be profitable. It’s about more than money, it’s about how I can share my thoughts on how to live a good, meaningful life. It’s about how other people can read an article of mine and just maybe be inspired to live 1% better.

Screw writing for page views. Screw trying to get featured on big websites and being disappointed when you’re not. Write because it’s the right thing to do. Share content for the sake of pushing out good content. Write for you. Don’t write for the stats, the money, or the audience size. Don’t write to turn this into a full time profession. Don’t obsess over the popularity of the blog.

Screw the stats, the money, and everything else. Write for the sake of writing. Be territorial, not hierarchical. You’re writing to flesh out your own thoughts and ideas on how to live a better life, on what it means to live a meaningful life, and sharing your own unique journey with others. Write because it’s your voice and you have something to say. If zero people listen, it’s no less worthy than if 1 million people listen. Write to write. Writing needs no justification. It goes beyond everything tangible. It speaks to the soul.


Ever since I wrote that letter it has been infinitely easier to pour more time and effort into this blog because I no longer obsess over page views, followers, or the general popularity of the blog. I even turned off the Stats section of WordPress so I can’t see my page views each time I log in. It helped me remember my reason for writing: because I believe anyone can radically transform their lives if they get a  grip on their finances, and I want to share my thoughts on how to do so. This letter was a beautiful slap in the face that I desperately needed.

Obviously I would love to see this blog grow over time and even become a steady source of income, but that’s no longer my top priority. I’m more concerned with writing content that adds value to the world. Receiving an email from a reader who says my blog convinced them to buckle down and get their financial life in order makes me feel better than any paycheck ever has.

I think all of us have unique skills, abilities, and interests that we can use to provide value to the world. But I think things get sticky when we try to force our favorite type of work to be our primary source of income. Worst of all, when we try to force our passion to create income, our incentives change. We no longer create because we feel driven to do so, we create for profit. This almost always leads to stress and causes us to produce work that’s less than our best.

I don’t dream of being the world’s greatest data analyst. But I do plan on using the income from my data analyst job to create a financial situation that lets me do more of what I really love: writing and creating. I think this is where I can have the biggest potential impact on the world.

So for the time being, my day job isn’t my number one passion in life. But that’s okay because I don’t let that stop me from enjoying my passion each day.


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13 Replies to “Your Day Job Doesn’t Have to Be Your Passion”

  1. Oops! I think we all get Blogger Fever sometimes. It’s almost like an addiction some days. But thanks for this reminder. Some days I’m so frustrated about my day job that it’s tempting to throw in the towel and do what I love for a living. But that’s a double-edged sword: it might become that you hate what you previously loved because now it’s all about the numbers. I thrive more on passion projects if I have a part of my life that doesn’t allow for creativity, like a full time office job.

  2. Hey Zach,

    I only came across your blog recently, after one of your posts was shared on my personal finance Facebook group, but I want you to know that I have enjoyed reading your posts 🙂 Do keep up the good work!

  3. Zach- Very well put. Mrs. Grumby and I started to fall into the same trap, wondering how to attract more readers and what is the best way to monetize. We then realized that we’ve been able to become FI by saving and frugality, so readership and making money on the blog is not a priority for us.

    We write what inspires us and if it inspires or moves or motivates or enrages someone else, great. if not, writing can still be cathartic and facilitate personal growth. If people focus on the steps to become financially independent, monetizing a blog becomes less important. Our Next Life wrote an interesting post about money interfering with creativity: https://ournextlife.com/2016/06/01/creativity/

  4. Great post, Zach! Your wisdom and clarity are inspiring. Reading your blog is always one of the highlights of my week. :o)
    The progress you’ve made since you started not even a year ago is incredible:
    -Net worth +$34k since Aug 2016
    -How many blog posts? Almost 100?
    -Impressive growth as a writer
    -Income growth
    -Debt elimination
    -Graduation
    -Etc.
    I think it’s time to celebrate! Your creativity and analytical skills will no doubt continue to drive income growth at your day job and side hustles. And the valuable content of your blog posts will open doors for both you and your readers that can’t be seen in WordPress stats.
    Keep writing!

    1. Mr. and Mrs. Grumby,

      Thank you both for the encouraging words and for the reminder that the impact of a blog can’t always be seen in the Stats. You guys are great. And I agree, I have many milestones to celebrate from this past year alone! It has been a whirlwind of a year and I’m definitely grateful for all the positive happenings. Thank you both for always reading my posts and providing encouraging feedback 🙂

  5. Hi Zach,

    there is only a handful of finance blogs where I am really looking forward to read the next post. Yours is one of them. You do not only write about the “standard” topics, but also take a look around you. That is great and I am really enjoying your blog.

    I was also astonished when I saw your age. I am 42 and I thought the writer must be much older and experienced than you currently are. Keep up your great work!

    Greetings from Germany

    Lejero

  6. Keep it up! It’s fun and refreshing reading your insights. And I write because having it all spelled out helps me learn and solidify concepts and ideas. It’s weird because I hated writing papers in college, but now it’s a bit more easier I suppose because I get to make up the rules….well for the most part 🙂

    1. I’m the same way, I never particularly enjoyed writing in college because of all the restrictions and guidelines. But with a blog you get to make up all the rules yourself and can write about anything you want. It’s both refreshing and enjoyable 🙂

  7. Zach,

    I needed this post! Every time I get a bit of this fever, something happens that knocks me back into doing it for a fun hobby. This post was that for me tonight. Maybe I need a letter myself to look at from time to time.

    I enjoy the heck out of your blog and writing style. You always give me something to think about and evaluate my situation in different ways. Keep up the awesome work!

    1. Cameron, I definitely recommend writing a brief letter to yourself if you ever find yourself stressed out about something that’s not supposed to be stressful. It’s cathartic and helps you remember why you first loved a hobby in the first place. I appreciate you always reading my posts and commenting, it’s great to be able to discuss these ideas with others 🙂

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