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My Dilemma – Tommy on Ambivalence and Passion

By: Tommy B

According to the dictionary, Ambivalence is a noun that means:
1. uncertainty or fluctuation, especially when caused by inability to make a choice or by a simultaneous desire to say or do two opposite or conflicting things.
2. Psychology . the coexistence within an individual of positive and negative feelings toward the same person, object, or action, simultaneously drawing him or her in opposite directions.

My dilemma:

I want to do something different with my life – in the work environment that is. I’ve been an Operations/Administrative professional for more years that I can remember and sooo ready for a change. In my search for clarity I’ve heard numerous folks say, “What is your passion? What do you like to do?”

Here’s the definition of passion, also a noun, according to www.dictionary.com:

1. any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate.
2. strong amorous feeling or desire; love; ardor.
3. strong sexual desire; lust.
4. an instance or experience of strong love or sexual desire.
5. a person toward whom one feels

Vacant: Stevenage Bath HouseI guess my friends are speaking of the #2 version of the word, although numbers 3, 4 or 5 sound pretty good at this point in my life! Anyway, so I think to myself, what do I like to do? Well, I like to go backpacking and hiking; I like to cut firewood; I love eating and growing salad greens; I like to sit on my porch and watch the birds; I like to hang out with friends; I like campfires; I like running 5K’s; I love building small farm structures; and I absolutely love good beer and chocolate! Now, the leap, how do I make money from these passions (yeah, I’m being a bit facetious)?

I have thought of selling firewood; I have thought of having a fresh greens business; I have thought of building pet coffins; I have thought of starting my own brewery (any investors out there!) but something about trying to make money from these doesn’t quite compute for me. To me it would kind of take the passion out of it and turn it more into a capitalistic ritual? So, am I forever doomed to working for the man in something I am good at but have no passion left, or is there hope for an old dog to learn a new trick and actually make some money?

What do you think? Any real world personal experiences I can learn from?

Creative Commons License photo credit: anemoneprojectors (no internet at the moment)


Category: Rants

Comments (15)

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  1. Everett says:

    Tommy you and I have had several conversations about this so I doubt I can say anything new. Hopefully others will have some good advice. It sounds to me like you are afraid that doing something you love for a living will somehow “cheapen” the experience of doing what you love, or turn it into a capitalistic exercise that you don’t love anymore. I’ll have to disagree with that. Most people would give a limb to be able to do something they love for a living. It isn’t something to be feared or to shy away from, especially if it involves being your own boss and working from home, or in an environment of your choice.

    There are two hawks on the hunt for smaller birds. They find a huge flock and both hawks think how lucky they are to find such a bounty. One goes after the closest small bird but misses. So he goes after another one and misses. He keeps going after birds as they cross his path, but goes hungry despite being surrounded by food. The other hawk ignores all of the birds as they fly in front of his face. Instead, he chooses one unlucky bird and follows it through the crowd. He never takes his eye off this one bird, despite being surrounded by thousands of others, some of them even brushing his tail fathers as they fly by. Eventually his focus wins the day and he goes home with a full stomach and plenty of food left to puke up for his little chicks.

  2. v8grrl says:

    They say once you quit your “day” job and do your so called “dream job” it will Become your passion, because it has to…in order to survive.

    How about helping schools do sustainable (semi) farming? Teaching kids about how to garden and eat properly, and maybe help them make a bit of cash selling there salad greens for booster money….You can teach them the beauty of composting, and building small farm structures.

    we need all the good teachers we can get. PLUS you could backpack in the summer.

    I bet with some thought you could get people to sponsor it, pay you and , and possibly be a tax write off

    :)
    when you figure it out let me know…because I’m a night RN and all I want to do is go to Africa and feed babies nutty butter.

    v8grrl

  3. I second v8grrl – there is a huge demand for educational offerings covering self sufficiency skills and eating closer to the land – for schools, low income areas, community groups and so on. Most people in this area seem to already know the ropes, but we have quite a few colleges nearby. Perhaps you could lead a few seminars and see if you like teaching things like composting, growing salad greens, raising honey bees, etc.

    In NYC there are several groups that teach hunting skills, butchering skills and so on – there must be a huge demand since the classes always sell out within 48 hours. Granted, that’s a huge population base, but you could always tweak for our area.

    As for deadening your passion by trying to squeeze an income out of it – I both agree with you and with Everett. I think that if you just enjoy something (rather than having great passion for it), turning it into a full time job might get irksome.

    But if you are so passionate that you can’t stop talking about chopping wood/raising greens/etc to whomever will listen – then turning that into a platform for day-to-day sustenance will bring you great joy. It might take a bit of massaging to find the best way to monetize it, but nothing worth doing is ever easy! You’ll be getting paid to talk about what you love, and share it far and wide! No better calling than that. :)

  4. Anna says:

    I say, if you’re fed up with what you’re doing, quit, tighten your belt, and the right solution will come along eventually. That’s what I did, and it worked out great. :-)

    Of course, you have to be willing to scrimp for six months or a year while you try out various ways of making a living. I don’t know enough about your situation to know if that’s possible for you (for example, whether you’ve got a lot of people depending on you, or whether the path of your life is really in your own hands.)

    To answer your question about whether monetizing your passion will kill it, I say you’ve got about a 50/50 chance. I ran through a lot of ways of making a living before settling on our current internet microbusiness — selling my paintings was my least favorite since it did pretty much kill that passion; running a CSA/selling organic veggies was fun but was clearly going to require me to compromise my ecological gardening standards if I wanted to make more than $5 per hour; making ecological inventories was a good middle ground with moderate pay and lots of fun times in the woods, but still I felt like my life was out of balance.

    My solution was to create a job for myself doing something that I enjoy but is not the end and be all of my existence. The trick is that my “job” pays well enough that I only have to work six hours a week. That way, I have four work days left to pursue my passions. It’s the best compromise I’ve come to after a decade of experimenting.

  5. I guess a biggie that I left out is money, of course. I’m in a place in my life where I can’t just quit tomorrow (unlike a few years ago). Although self-imposed I do have a mortgage, family to support, insurancies to pay, etc. I’m definitely tightening my belt and can do with a lot less than 6 months ago, but I still wonder if I can make ends meet through developing cottage businesses?

    I have friends who do 1/2 dozen different things and just get by. I had a friend tell me just the other week, “I quite my 40 hour job working for the man so I can work 80 hours for myself and we are barely getting by!” I guess that’s been my biggest fear. To give up the comfortable and “steady” to working a lot more for a lot less. Then, I wonder if I go bare bones will I have to worry about having the money to buy a tire for my car if I have a flat (and those sorta things) let along continue to contribute to savings and a rainy day fund….

    I know I need to get over my fear and move on and see where I come out…and hopefully still afford spare tires when needed!

  6. Anna,

    Everett has told me a little about what you all got going on and I have to say it’s pretty inspiring. Definitely a real world success story for me.

  7. janet stenner says:

    My husband retired earlier than expected and went to theology college, after three years got his degree and went full time with his passion “preaching”. At 80 he is still preaching and loves all the preparation, all the new gismos etc, so go for it or you might regret it.

  8. Anne says:

    I think building sheds might work. My hub bought one from Home Depot that is a mess. He has spent 4 days trying to put it up and now is taking it back. Sounds like a market there.

  9. De says:

    I can definitely relate. I’m still on the day job, but work part time at it now. Maybe that’s something you could go for – and then have some time to pursue a side gig or two, see if it takes of or not. Good luck!

  10. Amber says:

    Everyday I take action to ensure that I love myself, my life, and those around me. I have a dream of some ideal lifestyle that I know will change as I change. I know I want to have healthy realationships, live close to the earth, and explore my creativity.

    I am making a commitment to make art everyday- whether it’s a unique outhouse renovation with a mosaic tile floor, drawing in my sketch book, or sidewalk art with the kids.

    I have streched the hours of the day. I get up earlier and go to bed later to “fit in” my painting, yoga, dance,songwriting, sewing,gardening,canning,etc. etc. etc.

    I am so far from ‘giving up’ on all these interests. In fact, the motivation is so rich with life that I even wonder how long I can continue to make my efforts sustainable. But I continue to make the change that makes it all possible. To cut out the ‘not so fulfilling parts of life’ that I assumed ‘necessary’ for many years.

    So who cares if I don’t match my socks anymore…
    If I don’t feel the rush to pull the clothes off the line before the rain sets in (we call it the extra rinse).
    Simple but lovely meals.

    I continue to reduce my consumer needs, reducing the amount of money needed to live. I put my retirement on hold to live for today and I couldn’t be happier.

    As you know, I could go on and on, but sitting at the computer is not where I choose to spend my time.

  11. Eric L. says:

    Tommy- understand exactly where you’re coming from bro.

    I have a steady job that frankly I hate doing. It over stresses me and demands way too much of my time that I refuse to give. The reason I’m still there is the health benefits for my wife and son (soon to be another).

    I have batted around a thousand ideas of what I would want to do to earn a modest income and live a simpler life. Some ideas I’ve tried, such as turning my love of dog training into a career. Well I ended up hating it, because it became more about ignorant pet owners than the training of dogs. So trying to make money from that passion sort of soured after that. I’m what you call good at a lot of things, master of none, so I’ll keep searching for my niche because it’s out there.

    I’m with Everett though don’t let earning money doing something you love ever stop you from at least trying. Good luck!

  12. Everett says:

    Eric I didn’t know your wife was pregnant again. Congratulations! I’m still enjoying the book you sent.

    E.

  13. Eric L. says:

    Thanks Ev- congrats on your new one as well! Sorry it took so long for me to get back here and check it out.

    Yeah we’re on #2 and last child, it’s not as scary as the first go around!

    I have submitted over 35 resumes for small towns from VA to Portland in the hopes of landing a job where I can relocate the family to a smaller community like what you got goin on. Slow going as I think most employers are wanting local people but I’ll keep on it!

    How’s Floyd treating you three?!

  14. Everett says:

    Eric,

    Floyd is AWESOME. It is the perfect place for us. You should check it out if you can. Asheville, NC has a lot more job opportunities but is also more expensive and bigger. I’d definitely check that out too, as well as Charlottesville, Roanoke, Christiansburg, etc.. Good luck!

    Everett

  15. Vista says:

    tommy–i was you about 4 years ago. read about 4 career-changing books, did all sorts of personality/strengths/weaknesses tests, & so may be able to help you firm up some ideas, in an amateur fashion. the big 3 are 1)liking it 2)being good at it & 3)being able to make a living at it. if any one of these is missing from your job, you’ll feel unfulfilled. let’s discuss (phone)!

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