After 17 years, I quit my job as a computer programmer to follow my passion. It paid off.

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July 7, 2021

6 minutes to read

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When I was four, I knew what I wanted to do with my life: I was going to be a movie star! My parents didn’t agree. Around the age of 11, I thought painting for a living could be cool. Mom didn’t think so. My sister’s boyfriend was once in our apartment and, wanting to impress her, she shouted at me, “Hey, what do you wanna be when you grow up?”

It was evident. “A singer!” I cried.

It was the wrong answer.

I chose the most traveled path – and I got lost

In case you didn’t know, I didn’t become a Hollywood superstar. I forgot how to paint. And the only songs that I sing now are children’s songs for my children.

I knew computer programmers at the time. They earned decent money and worked their own hours. From an analytical standpoint, I liked this as a good wise investment. Mom would be happy.

I ended up giving in to family pressure and I chose a “career that will make you money!”

When I told my mom that I had decided to become a computer programmer, a three-day party ensued. Okay, not really, but you can imagine the joy.

Related: 4 things to consider when choosing the right career path

Your career is an investment

I coded for 17 years. I was pretty good at it, never Great. He paid the bills.

If my career was an investment, I would have taken the 1.25% Treasury bill at nominal interest rate. Fine art, or packing for Hollywood, would’ve been like buying Bitcoin in 2009.

Instead of forcing me to accept the treasury bill, maybe my parents would have done well to teach me invest in a career. All investments involve risk. The higher the risk, the better the potential return. The solution is to learn about investing in order to mitigate the risk, not to stop investing.

Years later, I began to invest in writing, one of my new artistic interests. I started writing because I wanted to get rich (stupid me). I took this risk and lost. But I continued to write.

I wrote in the middle of the night and clapped when I made a dollar off my books. I wrote for the fans and did a happy dance every time they sent me fan mail. I wrote for love, the desire to make people laugh or cry.

I wrote with slow, quivering hope that one day I might be able to do this for a living.

Related: 4‌ ‌Lessons‌ ‌Nonfiction‌ ‌Writers‌ ‌Can‌ ‌Learn‌ ‌From‌ ‌Matthew‌ ‌McConaughey’s‌ ‌Book‌ ‌’Greenlights’‌

The beautiful artist

When I was 18, mom and I visited a fine arts student while this student drew a charcoal masterpiece on her bedroom floor. Mom wanted to know the guaranteed monetary value of this activity. Standing above the artist, mom asked, “Well, what can you do? to do with this diploma? I want to say for money. “

No one in the room could come up with an acceptable answer. Asking students what they can do for money with their skills is like asking the same question of four-year-olds. If you want to know how to make money, ask someone who has done it before.

Years later, I remember the heartbreak I felt when I discovered that digital animation professionals were all good artists. They are illustrators and painters, experts in the pen and brush who digitally drawn to create the animated Hollywood blockbusters we see today.

No one saw it coming in the 90s!

When we were in this fine arts student’s bedroom, maybe my mother had foreseen a picture of a disheveled New-Age painter in rags, without a dime to his name, pedaling paintings in Bushwick and calling his parents every month for money to pay the rent.

Related: How to Build and Maintain a Successful Art Career

The hack: find a way to monetize what you love to do

As a writer, I wrote fiction. Like many writers, I wanted a big publishing deal, but couldn’t get it.

Failure is a good thing. It forces you to re-evaluate, find solutions, and solve problems. My failures as a fiction writer were so immense, but my desire to pursue this career so relentless, that the two fought inside me until, finally, thesis and antithesis combined, and I found a synthesis of a solution.

The trick is to find a way to monetize what you love to do.

Just like all of these beautiful artists found jobs at the best digital animation agencies in Los Angeles, I found a way to do what i liked while earning a living there.

The answer was freelance writing.

Why hadn’t I thought of it before?

I entered this new career with all the enthusiasm of a man dying of thirst finding a glass of water.

Business exploded. In six months, I had made as much money as I had ever made in a Well year as a programmer.

Related: 9 ways to profit from your passion

Change of mentality

My passion for my new job means that I now focus on get better as a writer. It’s the difference in mindset between “making money fast” and “providing the best possible service.”

Opportunities arise, and I seize them because the work itself fascinates me. My job is no longer about hours worked, but about the quality delivered, what I have learned and how much I have improved.

My work is my passion.

I will never force my children to have a career. They must adopt the mindset that their future is an investment. I don’t know what the world will be like in 20 years. But I to do know that if i want them to be successful i have to teach them be resourceful and find ways to monetize their passion. It is their work, not mine, because the future will be theirs.


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