You’ve probably read or heard a dozen stories about people who quit their dull day jobs to pursue a dream, and went on to achieve soaring success.
But the reality is, taking a risk and pursuing your passion full-time isn’t as simple as it sounds.
There are a million things to consider before taking the leap, starting with the question: “Should I quit my job to pursue this full-time?”
And that’s not always an easy one to answer.
Kathryn Minshew—a CEO who quit her traditional job five years ago to found The Muse, a career development platform that now accrues 50 million unique visitors annually, according to Fortune—has some suggestions.
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Minshew says she wouldn’t necessarily encourage most people to just quit their jobs to start pursuing their dreams the moment they get the itch. Instead, you should be patient and take your time with it. Why? You may decide that you’re not actually as passionate about this dream as you thought you were.
To decide whether it’s worth quitting your job for, Minshew suggests “pursuing your passion on the side” before you put all your eggs in that basket.
“This is often an incredibly effective way to test out whether putting those interests at the front and center of your career is really the right decision for you,” she tells Business Insider. “For every person who quits their job and starts a bakery and waltzes into eternal happiness, there’s someone else who is much more satisfied having a traditional career and pursuing their passion as a hobby.” It’s hard to know which one is right for you until you do both simultaneously.
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Minshew reasons that it’s easy to romanticize your dream job from the outside, so it’s important to do your research and gain experience before you take any drastic measures.
“Don’t be afraid to start small,” she says. “Find a nonprofit or a local organization where you could volunteer your skills on weekends or a couple of hours each week so you can start to build up some experience and begin to understand what the business of your passion looks like. Talk to people who have made that passion their full time job.”
That being said, if and when you do decide to pursue your project as a side gig, rather than a full time career, know that you’ll likely be very busy and extremely tired — so be sure to take care of yourself. Don’t sacrifice relaxation, friends, or exercise in order to cram a new side hustle into your routine.
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“It can be tempting to fill up all your non-work hours with other activities, but you’re also much better served by moving more slowly but deliberately in the direction of your side hustle and protecting enough time for yourself that you remain happy, rested, fulfilled, and don’t ultimately burn yourself out,” she says.