The Biggest Myths about Money and Living Off Your Passion That Are Quietly Killing Your Dreams
“One of the reasons people aren’t rich is because almost everyone has more excuses than money.” –Robert Kiyosaki
If there’s one thing that holds us back from living our passions, it’s the almost debilitating fear of not being able to financially take care of ourselves (and our families, if we have them). The regular paycheck is one of the biggest things that keeps us in unfulfilling jobs…
In fact, a couple of weeks back we posted the following question in the Live Your Legend Action and Accountability Facebook Group:
“We’re curious about the struggles you are experiencing on your journey to living a life that matters? What is the #1 thing currently holding you back?”
…and then person after person mentioned the following word as their biggest challenge:
Comments like these:
- “I’m working on starting a project based on my passion but still can’t step out of my job.”
- “Money! It’s the fear around losing our financial stability when I’m the sole breadwinner for the family. It’s duty and responsibility calling. It’s willing sacrifice of personal passions for family security.”
- “The money factor can be terrifying. I feel the fear, esp since our quality of life seems to depend on how much of it we have.”
- “Like members above, financial factor is also a problem. Rebuilding a new life means starting from zero in some extent.”
- “I would say the major thing getting in the way and currently holding me back is financial. I am a single parent, I have the responsibility of keeping a roof over our heads, food on the table, keeping us safe and well, and if my dependents are at risk of being directly affected by decisions I make at this juncture, then I will wait.”
Many people (ourselves included) will tell you that money (as well as time) is usually used as a massive excuse that prevents you from taking action.
But of course we all have bills to pay, and many of us have families to support, so today is not about making you feel even worse or more frustrated. Today is about clearing up some myths that might have been holding you back from getting into momentum, and also about giving you some practical hands-on tips for making the money side of things actually work as you stay committed to discovering and living your passion.
Why Money Holds So Many People Back
A couple of years back I (Leah) nearly gave up on the whole “live your passion” thing…
I went from a highly paid ($85K/year) and very stable job in public relations to earning $25/hour in a part-time job and almost $0/year for more than two years straight figuring out and working on my passion. I felt so discouraged, and as though I’d lost some part of my identity. Plus I felt bad that my husband was working in a role he didn’t enjoy at that time and yet our livelihood was now almost completely depending upon it.
I remember calling Naz and sharing this struggle with her and the fact that I felt I needed to get more part-time work to keep us afloat financially.
But then she asked me a question that snapped me out of my pity party quick smart:
“How much do you actually need?”
I was shocked by the fact that I had no idea! All I knew was that it felt like we were struggling financially when in fact I a) had zero clue what the black and white figures were and b) had become proficient at making up stories in my head about how bad things were.
So I did the work. I updated our budget, worked out what our fixed expenses were, and how much income we needed each month to cover them (plus some wiggle room).
The gap was actually quite manageable and once I had the figure in black and white, Naz and I started brainstorming different ways we could bring in that additional money (i.e., find two more coaching clients/month, create an online course, build an online program, increase our charge-out rates, etc.). And in the meantime I worked out how to bring my personal non-fixed expenses down.
It sounds so simple to say now, but I would guess that many of you reading this create the same stories in your head about your financial situation without having the cold, hard facts about where you truly are and where you need to be.
The Biggest Myths about Money and Living Off Your Passion
Before we go too much further into the basic “how to” of working out how much you actually need, there are a bunch of assumptions and myths made about money that need to be cleared up first, otherwise it’s like trying to treat the problem before accessing the symptoms:
Myth #1: That you need money to start the process of discovering your passion
There are so many free and low-cost resources available to you right now all over the web—like our free Passionate Work Toolkit—that will start you on the journey to help you find and do work you love. We both spent about 12 months in this space of discovery while we kept our 9–5, full-time jobs. You don’t need a bunch of money to start this process, just a commitment to yourself and your journey (or maybe your kids) and some time allocated each week toward progressing your thoughts and ideas.
In fact, the best time to get started is from within your current financial position. Looking back, we both feel like we could have stayed a little longer in our day jobs while building up a financial buffer before we took the leap and quit. Less pressure is always better than more!
Myth Buster Tip: Use our free Goal Setting & Weekly Planning workbooks to work out where to start and begin to allocate time in your schedule for working on the things that matter to you most. A little focused attention on a regular basis is much more powerful than waiting for an influx of cash to make a start. Don’t wait until conditions are perfect. Make an imperfect start.
Myth #2: That passion or creativity and generating income are mutually exclusive
This is one of the biggest roadblocks we hear people come up against. That living your passion means a financial sacrifice. But, it doesn’t have to be that way!
However, what we would say is that if you decide to start your own business, be prepared for a few years of a “building phase” before you start generating income. The more you can plan for that the better.
The fact is, there are plenty of creative people out there right now making a very decent income. And the more you can find those transferable skills that you already have and apply them to your new venture or job, the faster the transition will be.
Myth Buster Tip: Find at least 5 examples of people making money from their passions or creativity. What characteristics do you share with these people? How are you any different from them? Look for why you could do the same thing, not for why you think they are better than you or have an easier life (it’s not particularly helpful!).
Myth #3: That a traditional career is more stable than an unconventional one
“Stable” and “secure” jobs are few and far between these days. You only have to look at the 2007 housing market crash, the recent British exit from the European Union, or companies that suddenly lay off hundreds of people to know that stability is all in your head and that nothing is actually in our control 100%.
In fact, you could consider that living a more unconventional life means you have 100% say over how that turns out!
Myth Buster Tip: Define what “stability” means to you. Does it mean a regular paycheck? A 9–5 job? Healthcare? And what are the most important aspects of stability? Start to get super clear on what you need to have that feeling present in your career or new venture and make sure you can factor it in.
For example, for Leah: “I feel I have stability when as a family we have enough income to cover fixed expenses, no credit card debt, and savings of at least $200/month.” Get super specific on paper what you need to feel stable and/or secure, otherwise you will never know if your new direction can provide it.
Myth #4: That once you jump, there’s no going back
Often we stay stuck because we tell ourselves that we have to have it all figured out before we start living our passion, because once we jump, there’s no turning back. Perhaps it’s our ego or our pride—our fear that we will look bad if it all goes pear-shaped.
But the truth is, most people secretly admire those who take action on what they truly want, no matter how small, because at least you can look back and say to yourself “Well at least I gave it a shot! Now I have even more information on how to make this work!”
Scott Dinsmore was always big on life as an experiment, so take the pressure off yourself and simply view discovering and living your passion as a fun trial that may or may not work.
Myth Buster Tip: Once you jump into your new role/venture/business set yourself a timeframe to review how things are working out and if you have a partner then make sure it is agreed with them.
For example, Leah made an agreement with her husband to review after 6 months where things were financially and if they weren’t where they wanted to be, that she would seek out additional part-time work (which she actually did after 6 months to supplement their income).
Myth #5: That if it’s not earning me $$ right away, it’s not working
We live in a world where immediate gratification is the norm. We expect, based on success stories we hear online, to start earning hundreds or even thousands of dollars right away and that our new direction should be earning us at least an equal income. The truth is this takes time and is a gradual process of trial and adjustment. It has taken us more than three years to fine tune our own offerings into the world and it has been a very gradual build-up of income over that time. We know of very few overnight success stories.
One of our favorite quotes from a famous Australian chef Maggie Beer sums it up best: “I often say it took 20 years for us to be an overnight success. In business terms it would certainly be seen as a slow burn, yet that, I feel, has been our strength.”
Like a good wine, often the best things in life take some time to ripen and mature to a point where they work well (or in the case of wine… taste great!).
Myth Buster Tip:
1. Create a long-range timeline, taking into account your current commitments and financial situation for where you want to be in the next 3–5 years. Mark out key milestones on that timeline like “discover my passion,” “start my blog”, “join xyz course”, “create my company”, “transition into new role/company”, “start small training company.”
2. Find a mentor or guide that you trust who is further along the journey than you are and get yourself supported while in that building phase.
Myth #6: Pursuing your passion is selfish and self-indulgent
This one can especially come up for parents as we feel we are putting our families and kids “at risk” by pursuing our passion, but it can also come up for those without kids as our society has taught us that if it’s fun, it can’t be work… how crazy is that?! Apparently it’s better to stick our noses to the grindstone, grit our teeth and be miserable.
In our view it’s actually incredibly selfish NOT to pursue your passion. Why? Because 1) you rob your closest family and friends of the opportunity to see that it’s possible and 2) you don’t get to be the best version of you and role model for others.
Simon Sinek puts it best: “A child’s sense of well-being is affected less by the long hours their parents put in at work and more by the mood their parents are in when they come home.”
Myth Buster Tip: Make a commitment to your dreams and write down why you are pursuing your passion. Who is it to benefit and how? Why is it so important to you? Make sure you have this up somewhere visible or as part of a vision board.
Working Out How Much Money You Really Need
Now while we are certainly not financial experts or accountants, it’s not that hard to work out how much money you actually need to chase your passion (if any right now).
Step 1: Work out exactly how much you need as a minimum coming in each week/month to cover your fixed expenses + wiggle room
Step 2: Work out how much income you have (or will have) coming in
Step 3: What is the gap? Is there a gap?
Step 4: What creative ways could you fill this gap? Sell things on eBay, rent a room on Airbnb, find more clients, ask for a pay raise at work, reduce non-fixed expenses, funnel costs creatively—i.e., paying internet or phone bill through your new venture, etc.
Note: We have an entire course dedicated to making your first $1,000.00 off your passions and talents if you need further guidance on this step.
Step 5: What is the worst case scenario? If you are not able to close the financial gap, what is the worst case scenario and what will you do to correct your course?
Succeeding in anything requires a great deal of commitment and often uncertainty.
Risk is almost always part of the equation.
But often our fears about money can obscure the black and white facts of our situation and prevent us from getting started, or continuing, on the journey. We certainly do not subscribe to the idea that just focusing on doing what you love will make the money appear—it takes focus, support, making mistakes, determination and a commitment to the long game.
So the sooner you can answer the question “How much do I really need?” the sooner you can breathe life back into your dreams and figure out what action you need to take.
Because doing what you love is true freedom, and knowing that you can back yourself financially adds a decent dash of level-headedness that will ensure you can stay on the path to living a life that truly matters.
So what myths have you fallen victim to on the list? And do you know exactly how much you really need to live a life that is meaningful?
Let us know in the comments below!
–Leah and Naz
P.S. Be sure to check out our courses page to find step-by-step guides on how to to discover your passion, live off your passion and make your first thousand dollars. We created these courses based on working with people just like you!