Choosing a career path is easier said than done simply because many of us have more than one interest. And just like in college when you had to declare a major by junior year, but junior year rolled around and you were still undecided…at some point, you have to pick a career. One’s livelihood depends on it.
Some of us base our career choice on practicality. For example, you need to make a living and becoming an opera singer with NYC’s top symphony doesn’t exactly seem feasible. Instead, you opt for a comfortable office job. Others choose a career based on a longtime passion or interest. For the latter, the belief is: “I’ll never be happy if I don’t seize the moment and do what I love.”
But who says you can’t do both?
According to attorney and author Pamela Samuels Young, you can make a living AND pursue your passion. In January 2013, job search website Indeed.com had a record 17.3 million unique visitors—a 24-percent jump, and January 2014 will likely see a similar increase. Many of those job seekers won’t be looking for just a job, but one they’re passionate about.
“It’s great if your day job is your passion,” Young says. “But if it’s not, you don’t have to give up a position that pays the bills in order to pursue your dream. You can do both.”
Since 2006, Young has pursued her passion—writing legal thrillers—as well as her day job as Managing Counsel for Labor and Employment Law for Toyota Motors Sales, U.S.A., Inc. She was described by one reviewer as “John Grisham with a sister’s twist.”
“I enjoy practicing law and I didn’t want to leave Toyota, nor could I afford to. But I also had a burning desire to write mystery novels,” says Young. “Anybody’s Daughter,” her sixth novel, is described by Kirkus Reviews as a “fast-paced, well-written thriller that’s grounded in social issues.” The book takes readers inside the world of child sex trafficking in the United States.
“I’ve always believed that if you have a dream, you should formulate a plan and make it happen. So that’s what I did.”
Young’s plan included rising at 4 a.m. to squeeze in some writing time before heading off to work, and turning weekends and vacation time into creation time.
“Sometimes it’s hard to believe that I’ve published six novels, while still practicing law,” she says. “The hard work and commitment have definitely paid off.”
Young offers these tips for busy professionals itching to pursue their own passions:
• Schedule time to devote to your passion. “On my calendar, you’ll find a few hours or full days blocked out as ‘Writing Time’ every week,” Young says. “You have to schedule time for your passion. If you don’t, the day-to-day demands of life will get in the way.”
• Put “passion” time ahead of “pleasure” time. If you’re working full-time and pursuing another “job,” you won’t have a lot of free time. “You’ll have to cut back on watching television, socializing with friends and even family time,” Young says. “Explain your goals to friends and family. People who have your best interests at heart will support you. “But do take an occasional break to relax. Otherwise, you’ll burn yourself out by working around the clock.”
• Learn from others. Surround yourself with people who share your passion. Sign up for newsletters, read books and join communities of other like-minded people, Young says. “There are tons of professional groups whose sole function is to help their members develop their creative talents and business goals.” Young is a diehard member of Sisters in Crime, an organization that promotes the advancement of women mystery writers. “Not only will you get energy and inspiration from networking with others, you’ll grow.”
• Don’t put your day job on the backburner. Young says it’s important to give your day job 100 percent. “I never want my co-workers to think I’m phoning it in because I also have a writing career.” That attitude has paid off. “I have a strong support system at work. My co-workers read my books, critique my manuscripts and come to book signings.” Many of the people Young thanks in the Acknowledgements in each of her books are co-workers. Her fourth novel is even dedicated to another Toyota attorney.
“Don’t just dream about pursuing your passion,” Young says, “Make it happen!”