Can your passion pay the bills?

Close-up with KC Ejelonu

Email: Twitter: @kcejelonu

KC Ejelonu QEDHave you ever gotten to a point in life when you need to figure out if your passion can keep you financially stable? That passion or goal may involve travelling the world. You could be passionate about the arts just like I am.

The entertainment industry in Nigeria is very weird. It’s hard when starting out and you are not making the big bucks, yet it’s difficult to give it your all and also have a job by the side that can help you pay your bills.

I have a plan and that involves taking a step back at some point with acting and producing more of my work. While discussing with a close friend of mine recently, she kept reminding me of the plans I had and asking at what point I would start working those plans. Want to know what the plans are? Well I would phrase it this way: there are those who have a 9 – 5 job but are not in a position to quit working and spend all their time on the activity that they would like to make a priority. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t add their passion or priorities to their work. Get the drift now?

Talk about your passions

Your interests may have absolutely nothing to do with your job: most corporate jobs don’t take your passion for the arts or your after-work involvement in sports into account. But that doesn’t mean that limiting your discussion of such topics will pay off in the end. If you want to balance your work with your passions, it’s worth making sure your work actually knows that you have a few passions.

You don’t need to dominate every conversation, but it’s worth mentioning your hobbies and interests when they’re relevant. And if you see a clear path to bringing your interests to work, speak up. Even if it’s as simple as something like asking your employer to sponsor a local sports team, the company probably isn’t aware of the opportunity — or benefits — of sponsorship.

Look for flexibility

So when searching for a job that can help pay the rent and your bills, you’ll have to actually mention that you’re looking for some flexibility to actually get it. As long as you have a pretty clear idea of what you want — leave work early once a week, telecommute or any other option that makes it easier for you to devote time to your priorities — and how you can turn that into a benefit for your employer, ask for a meeting with your supervisor. You may not get a ‘yes’ straight away, but if your employer sees that you are serious about making a change, you’ve at least built a starting point.

Skip the bluffs

Adding your own priorities to your workday isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do. There will be cases where bringing the two together just isn’t possible, times when you have to focus on the fact that your employer is paying you money for your time and the company just isn’t interested in your hobbies. That’s okay. You don’t have to stop trying to focus on your passions during your 9 to 5 – it’s just time to step back and asses the situation.

There’s a danger in pushing too hard for one of your own priorities. There are plenty of examples out there of folks who told their employers about another priority or the need for flexibility and heard that the company couldn’t or wouldn’t offer them any help. In such situations, there is a temptation to try to bluff — to suggest that if your needs aren’t meet, you’re ready to move on. Such a bluff is generally not an ideal option. That isn’t to go against my suggestion to simply talk about your passions, especially to your boss. Instead, it’s an issue of the force you put behind such discussions.

Instead, before things progress that far, it’s worth considering your options as a whole. For the time being, the best option may be keeping your job as your main priority: you still have after hours to work on your own projects, and you can slowly work towards finding a new job or business that allows you to shift your priorities. Your alternative is making the jump now: you can start a job hunt in earnest, hopefully focusing on jobs that are more closely related to your own pet projects. Or you can strike out on your own, focusing on freelancing or building your own business focused on your own priorities. It’s a question of which option is practical for your own situation.