When I was in grade school, my parents wouldn’t give me allowance for summer. No school meant no cash, and I liked having cash. We struck a deal, I would work part time to earn money. My first job was interning for my grandfather. I would do boring office work like photocopying, filling brown envelopes, and cleaning the office.
My first real job was as a service attendant in Jollibee downtown Cebu. It was the biggest Jollibee in the Visayas. That job kicked my ass. We were taking out the trash, getting orders, cleaning tables, and dealing with irate costumers. Some of those costumers were assholes. That was a rough job.
It made me realize the importance of doing what I loved. But first I needed to answer the question, “How?”
If you find something you truly love, you will naturally spend all your extra time and energy on it. You will have conversations about it. It will ruminate in your head. Ideas will pop up that will help your idea move forward. You will effortlessly work on it because it is what you love to do.
So what’s the first step of doing what you love?
1 – Figure out what you love to do
Some of us were lucky enough to know at an early age what we wanted to do. My sister has wanted to be a lawyer ever since she was in grade school. The path was clear for her.
I, on the other hand, had no idea. As I was growing up my passions changed. When I was younger, I enjoyed reading comic books, then I started learning the guitar, then I dabbled in music recording, then I got my first camera, and even took a stab at video production. Then we started Zerothreetwo.com and it forced me to learn how to write. Now, I’m producing a podcast.
If like me, you don’t know, then try different things till you find it.
It is possible to find the passion and love in whatever it is you do. I was listening to a podcast interview of Mike Rowe, the Dirty jobs guy. He said that we need to turn the idea of finding your passion or your dream job around. Instead of hopping from one job to the next, it’s possible to find passion in whatever it is you are doing right now.
Mike Rowe’s show Dirty Jobs was all about people who did honest to goodness hard work. He would visit them in their work space and get a taste of what they were doing. You would think some of these “dirty” jobs had some of the most apathetic workers, but Mike Rowe saw the opposite. He saw people finding passion in their jobs, regardless of what they were doing. Could you find someone with a passion to be a a sewer inspector? Mike Rowe did. In his interview with Tim Ferriss, he talks about finding passion in whatever it is you do.
Whatever it is you decide to do, find the passion and love in it.
2 – Get good
Perhaps this is the easiest part to explain, but the most difficult part to do. Get good. How? You can read about it, learn as much as you can about it, think about it, look at the basics, but the easiest simplest way to get good is to do it.
Just do it. Do it as much as you can.
When I was learning to play guitar, I spent hours in front of a computer listening to music with the guitar on my lap. I looked at scales and practiced. I bought guitar books to teach me exercises. I looked for friends who wanted to start a band. Then we practiced as often as we could. Somewhere along the way, we would get gigs.
The first gig I ever played was in a birthday party. It was my birthday. We borrowed all the musical equipment, invited friends over, and played music. We didn’t sound good. We didn’t care. It was fun.
Over time, I started getting better. After years and years of practice, I got to a point where I was pretty good. I was a decent player. We started another band with my best friends and played all over the city.
Don’t worry about failing, looking bad, or plain old sucking. That’s just part of the process.
If you find passion in your work, you will find ways to become better at it.
3 – Don’t quit your day job
If you want to do what you love for fun, then great. Just keep doing it when you find time.
I love playing basketball. I’m never going to make it to the PBA, but I find ways to fit it in my weekly routine.
But if you hope to one day do what you love as an occupation, you are going to need to put in the work.
I’m not exactly sure where I got this quote, but here’s a favorite.
“It’s not what you do in your 9 to 5. It’s what you do from 5 to 9.”
When starting out, you will need to find a way to live. If you have parents who will take care of your day to day expenses and help you towards your dream, use that to your advantage. That just means you’ve got an extra ten hours a day to work on your dreams.
Not everyone has that luxury. If you have bills to pay, rent at the end of the month, and food to buy, don’t quit your day job. You need to find ways to keep yourself alive and well. But this means, you need to work twice as hard and sacrifice your leisure time.
No more night outs with friends, no more hours of video games, no more endlessly scrolling social media, no more binge watching Netflix, no more leisure.
That’s where you get the time to do what you love and live at the same time.
Plenty of creatives have kept a day job long after they started doing creative work. Some never quit their day job, but there are a few who have been able to replace their salaries with cash flow from their creative work.
If you have a job that pays 12k a month, don’t quit till your passion brings in the same or more. It’s that simple. If you can’t figure out how to make your passion pay as much as an entry level job, you need to rethink what it is you’re doing. Maybe you need to get better, maybe that thing you do doesn’t have any commercial value.
If it doesn’t have any commercial value, that’s totally fine. I love playing basketball. I try to play as much as my body will let me. Do I expect to make a PBA team any time soon? Of course not. But that doesn’t stop me from playing. I’m still doing what I love.
There’s no reason you can’t do the same thing. If it is something you love, you don’t need to make it a business, you don’t need to make it your livelihood.
But if you do, get ready to put in the hours.
4 – Plan
The worst thing you can do is quit your day job and hope someone pays you for the creative thing you love doing.
Take some time to sit down and plan.
But don’t take too long. There’s also such a thing as too much planning. Plan enough to know where you want to go, but at the same time be flexible enough to recover if things don’t go as planned.
“Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.” – Mike Tyson
Because everyone at some point gets punched in the mouth. So be flexible.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself so you can plan accordingly:
4.1 – what are your goals?
4.2 – what does success look like?
4.3 – what can you realistically do?
4.4 – how do I get there?
Goals differ, but at the same time, our goals are usually simple.
If your goal is to be the richest person out there, then you have a long road ahead of you. You’ll need to get lucky, learn a shit ton, and work your ass off.
If your goal is to play video games all day, here’s a step by step suggestion. (1) Don’t quit your day job. (2) Play video games every waking hour away from your job. (3) Stream it on Twitch, post it on YouTube. (4) Become an expert, watch what other streamers/gamers do and learn from them. (5) Continue till you get paid more for playing video games than your day job. If it never happens, you are still playing video games for hours a day. Not a bad worst case scenario.
Focus on the goal. Be specific. Then reverse engineer how you can get there.
5- Work really really really hard
If doing what you love were easy, then everyone would be doing it. The truth is that doing what you love is incredibly difficult. It means sacrificing on leisure. It means saying no to friends. It means rejection after rejection after rejection. It means feeling useless and incapable. It means feeling not good enough. It’s hard.
The only remedy is to work through it. How hard you work is the only variable that you can control. You can’t control if people follow you, if people buy from you, if people even like you. But here’s the upside of working really really really hard, eventually you get good.
That’s why starting with passion is important. If you aren’t passionate about what you are doing, you won’t find the motivation to put in the work. And it takes a lot of work to become good.
Who are the people you look up to? The ones who have become successful doing what they love? What do you see? Most of us only see the finished product. We don’t see the hours and hours of practice, of failure, of rejection, of pain, of work, of heart ache.
So much goes into becoming good, but the main ingredient is hard work.
“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” – Steve Martin
6 – Get lucky
Would you rather be lucky or good?
You might have come across this question before. The answer to me seems obvious. I’d rather be good because luck favors the prepared.
Of course, a little extra luck can’t hurt.
PS – If you want to hear from people who are doing what they love, I recently started a podcast called Zerothreetwo Conversations. It is full of interviews with people doing what they love. Give it a listen.