On following your passion and quitting your day job

On creativity and money

I always thought that if you’ve got the talent, creativity should provide. Well, apparently not! And this quote from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic Monday post dovetails very neatly with the realization I’ve come to recently – you DO NOT need to quit your day job to pursue your passions! When you do that, you’re forcing your passion to provide for you, and then you run the risk of making your passion your day job – with all the associated frustrations of a day job!

If, on the other hand, you pursue your passions on the side, when you have the time and the crazy drive, and when (and if) it turns into this huge-ass success, by all means, quit your day job. Because once you’ve achieved crazy-ass fame, or even a steady income stream, chances are that you will be called on to be involved with your passion in multiple ways. Then your passion will also be driven from the outside – through demand for your time, your thoughts, your opinions…

Your fan base, your influencers, your cheerleaders will want more of you…they are likely to give you at least a couple of chances…because they “know” you, love your product, flock to your name…and then even if your passion wanes a bit, the “fame momentum” will be enough to carry you along for a while.

Case in point – J.K. Rowling. Her first “adult” novel Casual Vacancy, published after the Harry Potter series, was panned by almost everyone who read it, but that didn’t stop her mystery novels (published later) from becoming super hits. When she was outed as Robert Galbraith , sales of The Cuckoo’s Calling skyrocketed even though it hadn’t done all that well previously, and even though it wasn’t all that marvelous a novel. And before her “overnight success”? Well, she worked as a research assistant at Amensty International, taught English as a foreign language in Portugal, and even lived on state benefits while pursuing a teacher’s training course. And during all this time, she wrote. In the pockets of time between work, in the spaces between falling in love and raising a child. She wrote. She collected rejection slips aplenty, and still, she wrote. And I believe that even if Harry Potter had never seen light of day (which would have been a crying shame!), she would still be at a cafe, somewhere in England, writing her heart out. Because that is just what she does. She writes.

Which is basically the point that I am trying to make. Your passion is something that you will do no matter what. I believe that it should be something that you nurture, that you support, something that continues to bring you joy day in and day out. And if you become an “overnight success”, sure, quit your day job!

But this whole “leap and the net will appear” thing – well, it can also lead to a hard landing, ya know! So instead of then getting disillusioned with your passion, why not just pursue it when you can? Take a sabbatical, switch to a part time job. But don’t quit your job until you know you’ve arrived!

Where do you stand on the passion vs. job debate? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic Monday post on Facebook.

Posted in Soulful living and tagged , , , , , , .


  1. It was an interesting tale about JK Rowling’s life. And I do agree with you. If one forces one’s passion to pay the bills early on then the passion is surely going to fizzle out. The best advice is surely to pursue it besides a job which pays for the bills.

    • Yes, and it’s something that took me so long to understand! This whole noise around quitting is so high that it doesn’t let you just think rationally sometimes, IMO.

  2. I think I quite agree with you on that! But it takes time…sometimes, it takes an entire lifetime to achieve success from what we refer to as passion! Nurturing our passions even when the going gets tough is very important too…love the Rowling story you’ve weaved into your post.

    • Yes, it does. And the other thing is you don’t always have to “succeed” in your passion in the traditional sense – i.e. money & glory. Perseverance is a must. As is a willingness to follow your passion weather or not it ever pays the bills.

  3. I definitely would not quit my day job until I “made it”. But, at 63, “making it” has a somewhat different meaning. In my retirement (future date not yet finalized), I do want to live at least one of my passions. I can, however, certainly start now.

  4. That’s interesting. I am passionate about food, food blogging, creating recipes and i am obsessing over food all the time. I recently quit my 6 yr old career in Marketing at one of the big FMCG after I had my son and now giving all my time to him and my food blog. Whether it will pay my bills or not I don’t know but this time around I want to give a chance to my passion other than thinking about paying bills!

  5. Wow!! That is such a powerful quote. And it makes so much sense. I write and teach and I love both of them. But I’m still not sure which of the two is my real passion in life.

    Teaching relieves me and takes me to another world. And writing is therapeutic! It helps me take out whats inside and keeps peace in my mind!


  6. I totally agree and it makes sense. On the superficial level, it feels that passion turned into job will be great but then the job demands will change it. Looking at a different angle – find a job that you love to do and then also pursue your passion. win-win, isn’t it?
    You have got some good food for thought there.

    • Yes, that’s true. Passion turned into a job is a job. It changes – the energy. But passion as a side project – it’s lovely! It keeps you fired up and raring to go. 🙂

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