Originally Published March 14th, 2019
I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to follow your passions and trying to make a living by doing what you love.
Honestly, I think it’s a fine line.
In our culture, we’re often defined by what we do for a living. What’s the first thing you ask someone when you meet them? “What do you do for work Joe?”
A lot of people are surprised when I tell them I’m a mailman. “I drive around in the country and put mail in boxes.”
That’s usually met with a slow nod and a “Oh, like a paper guy?”
“No, not like a paper guy.”
Most people reading this probably didn’t even know that about me. I’ve been a rural carrier for the United States Postal Service for over 13 years. I worked at the post office when I was in college, after I graduated college, when I started a business, after I quit the business.
I’m still a mailman.
But that’s not how I define myself.
I’m a mailman, a dog dad, the husband of a redheaded goddess, a photographer, a writer, a music enthusiast, a lifelong learner, a pizza chef, a satirist, an entrepreneur, a nerd of multiple sorts.
I’ve been lucky enough to make money through photography & selling artwork. But one of the greatest lessons I learned from running a business doing what I love, is that you can kill your passions.
I’ve met so many photographers throughout the years that talk about their work as if it were torture. I was one of them. But there was always a thought in the back of my mind telling me I was different because I was doing it for a living. It was for real.
Let me ask you a question. If you’re doing what you’re passionate about but you’re not happy, is that winning?
I don’t think so.
It’s not about what you do to make money—it’s about what you do that brings you joy and meaning.
Next time you meet someone, ask them what they do for meaning, not what they do for money.
What do you do during those 9 hours of the day when you’re not delivering mail, working on cars, bagging groceries, writing computer software? That’s what I’m interested in.
I had to step away from my photography business because I didn’t feel like my heart was in it anymore. Now that I’ve had some time away, I do the type of photography I want to do. There may not be a market for it (or one that I have found), but that doesn’t matter. I’m doing what brings meaning to my life and better yet, I’m finding other things that I’m passionate about along the way.
I’m passionate about film photography (I learned how to develop my own), I’m passionate about learning, about teaching, about inspiring other creatives, I’m passionate about creating not just one revenue stream—but multiple revenue streams.
Why put all your eggs in one basket?
If you’re passionate about something and you want to make a living doing it—go for it! Go all the way!
I’m not talking down to anyone who follows this path—I’m only speaking from my perspective—my experience.
Results may vary.
All I’m saying is that it doesn’t have to be WHAT your passionate about—it can be something INLINE with what your passionate about. That way you’re not killing off the spark that started everything in the first place.
Finding creative work can be just as creative a process as the creative process.
Stick that on your MacBook.
I still make money through photography but it’s on my own terms. For me, that’s the ultimate creative freedom.
Who knows, if I keep improving in my craft, putting work into the world, and enjoying the process—maybe something bigger will eventually happen.
I won’t know until I try.