Perhaps you have heard business greats like Jon Acuff and Stephen Covey speak about how we need to do work that aligns with our passions. Something about where passion and marketability intersect being your sweet spot. That kind of analysis is good, but it can also be overwhelming.
As Acuff mentioned in his book, Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters, sometimes what you think is a passion is just a hobby. And sometimes a hobby can also be a passion. Confused? Let me share a personal example.
When I entered kindergarten, my parents decided I should take piano lessons. As the firstborn of two pianists it was just a given that I would be number 3.
I began the weekly trek to my piano teacher’s house. I don’t remember much about her except that I had to wear a paper keyboard over my head between my eyes and my hands on the real keyboard. Oh, and the fact that she would frequently sigh and grasp her forehead in her hands when I would play for her. No, I’m not kidding.
Two years later, we moved to another state. My second piano teacher started me right back in the beginner piano book. Great progress. Even though she was a more interesting teacher, I continued to hate piano and cried during many practice sessions. My parents were determined, and my weekly trek continued.
When I hit around seventh grade, I began to actually like piano when I could play songs that interested me. So, I played the songs I liked and tolerated the “smart stuff”. Soon, I began to sit down at the piano when it wasn’t even practice time. I guess you could say I developed a hobby.
I never won any awards during recitals, and I never particularly loved classical music. However, I enjoyed playing for my church and people who loved me would tell me I had talent. I kept taking lessons and eventually began teaching lessons.
Everything was great until I had a student who actually did love the “smart stuff” or until an accomplished pianist would visit our church. Then, I realized that I didn’t quite measure up, so I kept trying. I always thought that playing the piano was either my ticket to fulfilling work or ministry. If I could just try harder.
The truth is I still love playing the piano, but not all the time. As much as I tried to make it become a passion, it has always been a hobby.
So how do I know it’s not a passion? Why do I not center my life’s work around playing the piano? Here are two questions you can ask to determine if something is a passion or hobby:
1. Would you still do it every day if you didn’t get paid for it?
I play the piano on Sunday mornings and fill in when another pianist is gone. I teach lessons one day a week. Most weeks, those are the only times I touch the piano. While I occasionally sit down and play for fun, my life goes on just fine if I don’t get to play more often.
There are a few other things that I always fit in multiple times a week if not every day. These are the things I focus on in my everyday life and work. Since I can determine my own jobs and schedule as a mom who works from home, why not focus my work on the things that excite me?
2. Do you talk about it to anyone who will listen (and a few who won’t)?
Think about your day-to-day conversations. Do they usually come back to one (or two or three) subjects? I know mine do. The things you love to talk about are generally the things you are passionate about.
Sometimes passions can be combined. For example, if your passions are children and photography, you probably have albums full of photos of your little ones. My passions are the Bible, my family, working and educating at home and writing. So guess what I often write about? (Take a peek at the categories at the top of this page if you are not sure of the answer.)
If you are new to working at home, these two questions are a great starting point. Determine what your passions are. Find out how to market them.
For you, the reader: What are your passions and how have you turned them into an income source?
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