What Comes First, Money or Passion?

I’m still ruminating over something my loving husband said the other day: “You’re the most underpaid workaholic I’ve ever seen.”  He was teasing me, of course, but my mother always said, “Behind every joke is a bit of truth.”

See, I just launched my new book Bursts of Brilliance for a Creative Life, which is an edited compilation of the best posts from the first five years of this blog. The new Bursts of Brilliance™ website will launch soon, and other new offerings soon after. So, things are a little crazy right now. I admit I’ve been working too much and that in this period of rapid growth, more money is going out than is coming in, and that’s always unnerving, to be sure. But that’s just how it is when you’re an entrepreneur. It will even out soon. It always does.

In the meantime, I’m working really, really hard and trusting that all this hard work will pay off. But I’m also feeling really, really excited and inspired, and that’s maybe a better payoff at this moment than a fat paycheck. Because money is necessary, of course, but it can’t motivate you the way passion can. To create something big and shiny and new, you need passion. And then you need money.

I know some of you don’t agree. Some of you might even argue that for you, money is the motivator. But what you’re really saying is that money is your passion. And the pursuit of money is your creative outlet. That’s fine too, just understand that you are driven to make more and more money because something about that quest gives you energy. And that energy will lead you to do big things.

But not everyone is motivated by money. Everyone needs money, I know. And the more money you have, the more good you can do. But what comes first is understanding what drives you.

Creative people are the most likely to believe that old adage, “Follow your passion and the money will follow.” They’re also the first to feel misled and cheated by that expression when the bills pile up. But the true believers do what it takes to stay the course. They look for temporary jobs to cover those bills, they take out loans, they try new strategies, they cut back on expenses, they double their work hours, etc.

Others decide sincerely that their art no longer gives them passion. They move on to something else that does raise their energy, and more power to them. Or maybe they move on to another job that provides a steady paycheck, which allows them to pursue their art on the side or as a hobby. Or maybe they are lucky enough to have an outside source of income that enables them to cover the bills while they pursue their art. One way or the other, they figure it out.

It’s the people who give up their art and passion for a soul-killing job that I worry about. You’ve just deprived us all of whatever creative contributions you might have made.

I felt bad when my husband pointed out how hard I’m working lately for little current monetary gain, but then I remembered something my CPA told me the other day. I met with him and said, “Don’t look at my expenses right now.” To which he responded, “Why not? You’re investing in your company. That’s what smart business people do.”

Will this investment pay off? Will all this extra work have been worth it? There’s only one way to find out . . .

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