I had a really really wonderful and long overdue chat this morning with one of my best friends in the whole wide world, Jessica a.k.a. wordsmith behind Finny Knits, and owner of Indie Farms. We spent much of our two-hour chat fest talking about what it’s like to take responsibility for your own happiness in life, especially as it relates to our own lives. It’s such a complex question and I’ve been reflecting on it even hours after the chat.
What makes the difference between someone who spends their life dreaming about doing what they love, and someone who actually goes out and does it?
Jessica spent nine successful years working at Google before she took the leap to start her own business this past year. Now she’s back in school studying horticulture, on the way to apprenticeships, and meanwhile cultivating both literally and figuratively her new kitchen garden coaching business. A friend of hers was one day talking about how she hadn’t had luck with her vegetable garden over the last couple years, and knew that Jessica always had more tomatoes than she knew what to do with, and was pretty much able to satisfy every kitchen vegetable need by going out to her own garden. So, rightfully, the friend asked, “Can you help me figure out what I’m doing wrong? What I can do better?” and thus the seed was planted (pun intended) for Jessica’s “crazy” business idea that turned out to not be so crazy after all.
How does this tie in with tarot? Because frankly, my decision to “go public” with readings wasn’t the logical conclusion to an interesting path to get there. You can read more of my personal story over at my blog about life in Rome, but the bottom line is this:
In order to live the life you want to live, and to do as work something you’d gladly do for free, you have to be brave enough to leap into the unknown.
I’ve always dreamed of how great it would be if I could make a living doing what I loved. It’s taken me a while and some life experiences to hone in on what exactly it is that makes me happy. And of course, that changes as we change and grow. But as I embark on this new journey of bringing my love and talent for tarot to a wider audience through a responsible business, I want to share with you five pieces of advice that have helped me get to where I’m at now: doing what I love and turning it into a project that can also support me financially.
1. Don’t expect other people to give you the dream job on a silver platter.
I really think that’s what it comes down to, in a nutshell. You can’t expect to have your “dream job” by scouring the Sunday paper want ads. As Seth Godin points out in the video below, “I think there’s a long tradition of people having jobs. I think that tradition is over.” That’s a provocative statement made to encourage out-of-the-box thinking about what it means in today’s day and age to work for a living and how you devote your time and talents to getting financial resources.
So, like the 5 of Pentacles, there are the haves and the have nots. Material resources are distributed to those that show themselves worthy of them or simply in need of them, and we are continually making choices in order to further our abundance. The 5 of Pentacles shows that when we have abundance, we are encouraged to share it with the world. In terms of turning your hobby into a business, look at what unique skills and talents your particular passion might add to the marketplace, and see how and where you might be able to then try that out.
If I fail more than you do, I win. –Seth Godin
2. Don’t be afraid to take a calculated risk.
The Fool is one of my favorite cards for encouraging people to “jump without a safety net.” It’s been a full year almost to the day since I wrote that blog post on my personal blog, and in a way it appears to be a bit of foreshadowing about my new adventure. The Fool does encourage us to be foolish, to explore new paths and start a new journey. Read more about my ideas on The Fool in this post!
“Look before you leap” is good advice. But sometimes it’s also good advice to simply make a go of it, and see what happens.
3. Protect yourself from negative outside influences.
A lot of times when we make a big life change, especially as it regards something as personal as turning a passion or a hobby into a way to make money, it seems like everyone around us has something to say about it. I remember when I first planned to quit my job and take a month to go to Rome to learn Italian. I knew no one in Rome, I had no specific goal for being there other than to study Italian and soak up the environment for a month, and simply to see where life would take me. And suddenly, everyone seemed to come out of the closet with reasons why it was not going to work out. And yet, here I am, 12 years later, happier than ever to call this city my home, and raising three little half-American half-Roman children of my own here.
Why is it that when we want to do something bold, new, and adventurous, it often sparks the naysayer in others? Call it thinly veiled envy, imaginative projection, or what you will, but the fact is this: often when you go out on a limb to try to follow your heart and passion and be successful, others see something in you that brings out their desires to do so and their fears, and this can often trigger a negative response in them.
As much as it is easer said than done, remember to keep in mind that other people’s objections are most often their own responses to their own personal issues. Take people’s cautions and words of advice, and evaluate them based on your own sense of risk/reward, planning and preparation, and then stick to your plan. Remember that you live your own life, they live theirs.
In these issues we can look at the Two of Swords, someone who at first glance is closed off to the world, not wanting to open up or expose herself to getting hurt, or being told things she doesn’t want to hear. Sometimes that can be counter-productive, such as when we close ourselves off to new relationships because of a past hurt. But sometimes, it can actually be useful, as when we consciously choose to filter out or protect ourselves from people’s negative projections onto our goals and desires.
4. Don’t project your fears about lack of income or material hardship onto your project.
This might be unconventional and a bit esoteric in terms of advice, but I really think it’s important. One of the major divides between what it takes to turn a hobby into a business has to do with, obviously, the money-making aspect. What you’re doing, in the most basic terms, is trying to transform something you’ve done for free, up until now, into something that you can do and at the same time make money from.
There are some really important questions that need to be asked as you consider this transition:
How will doing my hobby or passion change, as I perform it in exchange for money? Will I lose my enthusiasm once I transform it into a source of financial stability?
What financial supports do I have in place as I make this transition? Do I take on another job, or reduce my hours in my current job? Can I get by on less?
The trick however, while you’re examining these questions, is not to let the fear of “not making enough money” overtake your passion and enthusiasm for building the business. I really believe that our projections greatly affect our reality. The more you think about “what if I don’t make enough money?” and all the other various what-ifs, but especially those related to lack of material resources, the more likely, I believe, that you are to see that actually come to fruition in the real world.
Approach your project from a sense of abundance and an honest belief that the resources you need in order to make your project succeed will be given to you when you need them. It might sound a bit “new agey,” but the bottom line is that you want to place your focus and faith on success, not lack of it.
The Five of Pentacles indicates a period of financial hardship, having to get by on less, and generally a sense of suffering from not having everything you want or need in order to be comfortable or successful. The figures on the card are wandering through a blizzard without even enough clothes on to keep them warm, and the assumption is that they don’t even have enough money to buy the clothes that would be appropriate for the weather. While some readers interpret the lighted window as a church that is closed to them, I prefer to think of it as an opportunity. Don’t be so focused on the sacrifices you have to make in order to get your business off the ground, that you lose sight of opportunities on the way. Perhaps if the two figures on the card were to look at the window and be curious enough to see what was beyond it, they might find that it’s a clothing bank or a food bank. In life, resources don’t always come from expected sources. Be open to not knowing all the details of how things will work themselves out, and trust the process enough to have faith that you will be successful, while at the same time putting in the concrete and physical work necessary to help you get yourself to where you want to go.
5. The most important “DO”: Do follow your intuitive and “gut” feelings.
In our overly rational and scientific society, our gut-level hunches and intuitive feelings are totally discounted, in favor of hard, cold facts, and measurable results. Frankly speaking though, some of life’s most memorable and impactful historical figures made huge decisions based on intuitive hunches.
When I talk about intuition in this sense, I’m not talking about just sitting around and guessing about what you should do, and then mindlessly following whatever impulse first strikes you. I’m talking about a sort of mindful intuition, which is something I think we can cultivate in many different ways on a daily basis. By mindful, I mean taking real-world facts and rational thought, as well as diligent research and opinions from others, and then letting it settle in your subconscious mind with various intuitive practices, such as meditation, where it will mix and simmer to produce those intuitive hunches. In Dr. Paul Wong’s article Intuition: The best kept secret for survival and success, he reminds us to find a workable balance between conscious and rational decision-making and following intuition.
As it applies to turning a hobby into a business, you can look to The High Priestess as a model for trusting your intuitive impulses. Once you’ve done the concrete and practical work in the world to research the potential for your business, created a plan, and tackled many of the other preparations that go into a project like this, then the counter-intuitive advice is to simply let all of that go by the wayside for a bit and spend some time just “feeling” and turning within to that source of knowledge that can’t be defined in words. What are your reactions to your plan, your project, and your feelings about where you want to go?
Intuition, like all skills, is something that improves with regular practice. Jack Canfield in this article shares five tips to cultivate intuition in your life. Good tips also from Carol Adrienne in The Seven Principles of Effortless Action—What’s Not in the Business Plan: Trusting Your Intuition & Everyday Coincidences To Help You Succeed.
What tips or advice would you share with someone who wanted to turn their hobby into a business?