“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.” — Mary Oliver

Do you have a creative power rising inside you? It may be creative fuel or just a passionate urge to do something that excites you. If you’re not giving it power or time, chances are you’re getting stuck in a career or life that you aren’t thrilled about.

The path to living your passion is often elusive and confusing. There seem to be two schools of thoughts:

  1. 1. You do your day job to pay rent and put food on the table, then do your passion on the side.
  2. 2. You go all in to make a living with your passion, or die trying.

Rather than looking at them as two separate options, I see them as two different stages in the process. Living your passion doesn’t have a cookie cutter form that fits everybody. The question is, which stage makes you the happiest, and in which stage do you want to live?

Here’s how I define the 5 stages to living your passion:

Stage 1: Having a job but giving your passion neither power nor time

This is where it all starts. You’re in a job that pays, but you don’t feel connected to a bigger purpose. The job seems fine, but you aren’t particularly excited about it. At the same time, you aren’t doing much outside of work because you’re exhausted and unhappy. The unhappiness comes from not doing what you love, leaving the creative power inside unused. There is an easy fix to this: move yourself to stage two.

Stage 2: Having a job and giving your passion time

To shift from stage one to stage two, all it takes is giving your passion some time to get that creative power out. You’re still in the same job from Stage 1, but the difference is you’re making time to do what you love. Whether it’s after work or during the weekends, commit to it. Nobody but you cares about your passion; if you don’t make time for it, it’ll never happen. What it takes is commitment — not only to your passion, but to yourself. You don’t have to be good at it; you just have to show up and do it.

Stage 3: Having a job and giving your passion both power and time

In this stage you are giving your passion more time while simultaneously adding power. This is where you practice and become a pro at it. There’s a difference between only giving more time and adding in power. There are runners who run for years, but they don’t get any faster or better at it because all they put in is more time. Adding power is paying attention to how to get better, how to get to a level where you are worth paying for. In this stage, people may come to you trying to get your service or product for free. When that happens, it’s time to set a price.

Stage 4: Quitting your job to give your passion power and time

In this stage, you decide to give your passion more power and time, making it your primary source of income. If you choose to keep a job, you’re setting a limit on how much power and time you can give to your passion. Keeping a job means you choose to stay in stage 3, which is neither better nor worse, but it’s a choice. If you choose to quit your job, you’re entering the startup-entrepreneur-hustling stage. You will wear many hats while hustling to make sure you’re making enough money. Sometimes, it may be necessary to hustle a few side jobs to keep your passion business running.

Stage 5: Building your empire using your passion

An empire doesn’t have to be huge. It may be a business that makes a comfortable living, a multi-million dollar business, or somewhere in between. In this stage, your passion and work are one and the same. Your passion sustains your cost of living without you having to take odd jobs. You’re giving your passion the full power and time, but now it’s your business and primary source of income.

Remember, one stage is not better than the other. (Except for stage one. That’s the only exception where you aren’t truly living out your passion.)

In all of the other stages, you can be living your passion exactly the way you want it. Living your passion doesn’t have to mean making a living with it or die trying. The point is to create a life that makes you excited to get up in the morning, and that may be having a steady paycheck while doing some passion gigs on the weekends.

Pick your own stage. You don’t need permission to live your passion the way you want.

 

This article previously appeared on Ellevate Network.

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