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How to Go Pro without Quitting Your Day Job: Part 1

© 2010 Avocationist · November 1st, 2010 · 12 Comments


Admit it. You’ve got a secret love.

You sketch shoe designs during meetings. You build toy trains in your basement. You sing arias in the shower.

You probably don’t tell too many people about your secret love.

Why not?

  • “I’m not good enough yet.”
  • “No one would care.”
  • “I can’t make money doing it, so why bother.”
  • “I’ll get to that after I’ve made my money and have more time.”

What if I told you that you are good enough, you can easily find people who care, you can make money and that you have plenty of time right now?

All you have to do is Go Pro.

In this post, I’m going to explain the process of “Going Pro” and how it is simpler and more powerful than you think. In the next 2 posts I’ll talk more about the benefits and the how-to for taking your secret love public.

What does it take to Go Pro?

If you are an athlete, it means accepting sponsorships and prize money. Basically, it means that you are getting paid to do what you love to do.

So to Go Pro, you only need 3 elements:

  1. You
  2. Your project
  3. A customer or audience

You’ve got number 1 covered. (Congratulations!)

Now, what kind of project could you do? What does Going Pro look like?

Kate's First Gallery Show

It can start really simply. When my daughter Kate was 7, she had her first gallery show of paintings.

The gallery was our house and the show took place on Thanksgiving when we were hosting lots of out of town guests. She pulled together her favorite paintings and mounted them. We put them on the walls around the house.

I interviewed her and typed up her “Artist’s Statement” and put it up with a photo I had taken of her.

When everyone arrived, we had wine and cheese and the show began. She gave a brief talk about her art and inspirations. By the end, she got several offers.

Kate had Gone Pro.

Was she ready for New York? Not yet. But she knew more about what people liked. She knew more about putting together a portfolio. She had practice talking about her work in front of a group. She had experience now.

The next time she would be better.

So, what’s your goal for your secret love?

If you had all the money you would need and could focus on your love, what would you do?

Take that as the starting point for figuring out your project. (And if you need help finding your love, watch for an upcoming post on Life Experiments.)

What’s the easiest, safest way you can think of to make a “starter” version of your long-term goal? What would a 7-year-old do?

Next time I’ll talk about how I started this blog and what I learned about the benefits of Going Pro.

In the meantime, comment below with your thoughts and questions. How can you Go Pro? What's your secret love?

Photo courtesy Gianmaria Veronese

Tags: Career Change · Entrepreneur · Meaningful Work · Mid-Life Career Change

12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Avocationist // Nov 1, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Hey everybody - let me know what you'd like to "Go Pro"in and I'll add my ideas to the comments.

    - Allan

  • 2 David Rendall // Nov 1, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    One of my favorite quotes is from Hunter S. Thompson. "When the going gets weird, the weird go pro."


  • 3 Sara // Nov 2, 2010 at 5:45 am

    This is a great post. I would love to go pro in the teaching/training area, but worried about the risk, the time, the money, etc.......SO I've started doing some training webinars with friends I know and admire, building some experience, credibility among my potential customers and a little cash too. It's inspired me to work on a business plan of sorts with a strategy to scoot more into this area. Thanks for the post!

  • 4 Avocationist // Nov 2, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    @sara - fantastic - nothing beats just trying it. Good luck!

    @David - always up for a good Hunter S Thompson quote!

  • 5 Kristina // Nov 2, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Enjoyable post! Thanks for the inspiration. I would love to go pro as a writer. Nonfiction, fiction, large or small scale...I just want to spend my days extracting all the random thoughts in my head onto paper!

  • 6 Avocationist // Nov 3, 2010 at 8:14 am

    @Kristina - by my definition of Going Pro you are already there- you are a great wit on your blog. Keep it up and find some other writers to support you!

  • 7 Matthew Peters // Dec 6, 2010 at 11:43 am


    Great post. Simple and to the point. So many people I know never take the step to follow their passions and face their fears of failure or rejection.

    It's great that your daughter had the experience to have her own show early on in life. The Artist's Statement was a cool idea.

    You gave her permission to call herself what she already is NOW and not have to wait for a MFA degree, being showcased in a gallery in SoHo or a shelf full of awards to make her professional.

    I love it! You're an inspiration.


  • 8 Ed.E. // Dec 14, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    Great topic, and I look forward to the next installment! If everyone went pro with what they loved, we'd all be living the life we love while creating the world we want.
    I love calligraphy and botanic illustration. Over the last several years, I started taking classes, and joined a calligraphy guild. I still hate my day job, but now I have something that makes life exciting and wonderful again. Going pro sounds tantalizing. When will we see part two?

  • 9 Avocationist // Dec 14, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    @Ed - thanks for your comments. Send us a link to your illustrations - I'd love to share it with others.

    I'll be putting the next installment up this weekend - about some of the magical (and surprising) benefits of Going Pro.

  • 10 Andrea // Jan 13, 2011 at 7:17 am

    I'm currently struggling with this question and what my passion is. So how do you really determine what you'd want to "go pro" in when you don't know?

  • 11 Avocationist // Jan 13, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    @Andrea - this is a great question. It is true that you need time to play and experiment first before you start to invest the effort in what I call "Going Pro". Check out my article on the Lunch Break Dream Launch for some ideas. I'm also going to do a post soon on this topic - it is something that I wrestled with for years until I finally figured it out, but it's easy to work on (and fun).

  • 12 Sam // Sep 22, 2011 at 11:59 am

    What about being a Semi-Pro versus Pro? I like running and have done multiple marathons and half marathons.

    I'm not fast (it's all relative- 1 hr 50 min 1/2 marathon) and am in the 50% percentile for running. How do you communicate with your sponsors/payers that you can provide value, even if you are not the best (or close)?

    Thank you,

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