The magic combo to get paid to do what you love

Here’s a dirty little secret: I fell into this career by accident.

Personal finance wasn’t something I ever imagined I’d do for a living. Money wasn’t something I loved as a child. It’s not even something I thought about in college. It wasn’t until I graduated and had to live on minimum wage with $30,000 in student loans that I started focusing on personal finance. I knew I had to help myself and others fix their finances. It was something I became good at, and it was something that I eventually got paid to do.

Personal finance paid the bills. Personal finance was what I became known for.

But my true child-hood passion? Cartoons.

The 5-year-old me knew what I was born to do – and then adult life fought back

Growing up, I dreamed of being an animator. I watched Looney Tunes on repeat, sketching out Bugs Bunny and Marvin the Martian in front of the TV over a bowl of popcorn. I own every single Calvin and Hobbes comic book ever published, and would spend hours mimicking Bill Watterson’s careful lines and water-colored backgrounds.

In elementary school, I won regional and national awards for my drawings. I was named “Best Artist” in my senior class in high school.

Then I went to college and my art died.

In school, I felt obligated to focus on a career path that made money. I spent less time on my art and more time figuring out what would make me money. By the time I graduated school, I’d hardly sketched a thing and only painted two pieces.

After graduation, I thought I’d find time to rekindle my passion, but I found plenty of excuses not to do art. I was finally earning money, living an “adult life” and I wanted to grow my career. My art became a hobby, and my hobby took a back seat to my job.

It was a conversation at a party when I realized I’d given up on my passion for my career.

Someone casually asked me what I do for work and what I do for fun. I went into passionate detail about my job helping families save money for college. Then I told them about my art hobby. They asked what I’d created lately. I paused. I couldn’t come up with a single example. At that point, it’d been over a year since I’d created something.

My whole life, I’d said I was an artist. But for years, I’d been saying that I was an artist, but I wasn’t actually doing any art. I’d been saying that I love to draw and paint and do art, but I hadn’t created a single thing.

I realized that I’d stopped doing what I loved in life because making money had taken over.

I’ve always been a career-oriented girl. Fast forward to today, and I’ve created my own business. I’m a financial empowerment consultant who helps businesses, nonprofits and blogs educate millennials and low-income families about money. I’m grateful and tremendously blessed to be able to run my own business, be my own boss and create my own career.

But when I launched my own business, I heard a voice deep down inside of me telling me that there was an artist inside of me still waiting to come out.

“Make art, Steph. This is what you were born to do.”

I used to think these were two opposing forces in my life: my career and my calling. But in the past few months, I’ve realized they could be one and the same. In fact, this could be an insanely powerful combination that would drive both my career and my calling.

This magic combo is helping me stick out from the crowd, bringing my work to life and allowing me to do what I love while getting paid.

get paid to do what you love

And I get to doodle every day 🙂

The Magic Combo to Get Paid to Do What You Love

It took me eight years to get back to doing art regularly. EIGHT YEARS. That’s a long break from something that I claimed was my passion and love since childhood. But here I am, drawing and doodling and creating cartoons every day – and getting paid for it.

It took awhile, but I now get paid to do what I love. And it feels incredible.

So how do you get there? How can you realistically find a way to bring your childhood passion, the thing you were born to do, and get money to do it?

Even if you don’t want to start your own business, it’s totally possible to bring your passion into your work.

Here’s the magic combo I’ve found for earning money and doing what you love:

Step 1: Master a unique, valuable skill. It doesn’t have to be your passion, but just get really good at something in-demand or incredibly unique. These days, this usually involves something online: blogging, programming, etc. But it could be something totally out of left field… like financial education for me. Milk your current job for whatever it’s worth to build your skills and your expertise in an area of value. Go all in and hard in one area.

Step 2: Infuse your passion into everything you do. Once you have a mastered skill under your belt, the possibilities are endless. And that’s when you can really start having fun and bringing your passion front and center. There are so many creative ways to combine the thing you love with the thing that makes you money. Add your personal flair and passion into your everyday work whenever possible. You’ll be surprised by where it takes you.

Introducing the Crush Your Debt Comics

So I’ve come up with the ultimate hybrid between my career and my calling to make cartoons:

In a few weeks, I’ll be publishing the “Crush Your Debt Comics” – an illustrated story about how I paid off almost $35,000 in student loans in less than four years. Here’s a sneak peak:

Crush your Debt Comics Part 2

I’m so ridiculously excited for this comic book – it’s the culmination of everything I love and do in life 🙂 And guess what? I’m giving it away to all my readers in the month of May. Even though I love getting paid to draw comics about money, I also love giving things away.

And be sure to leave a comment telling me about your passion or calling – what would you love to get paid to do?

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5 thoughts on “The magic combo to get paid to do what you love

  1. John Chang

    Hey Steph –

    My problem is that like many multi-potentialites I have SO MANY interests it’s hard to focus on one or for that matter figure out which one to focus on.

    Necessity IS that mother of invention, as they say though.. Having gotten myself into cash crunches has forced me to figure what is my “Quickest Path to Cash (QPC)” at various times.

    To your point it’s awesome to be paid for what you love to do – I’ve been a paid tango dancer / performer / DJ, paid as an actor, paid as a speaker, paid as a writer, paid as a film maker, even paid for helping others buy / sell businesses.

    Now I’m working on being paid to travel, shoot videos and eat amazing food around the world. I’ve learned however that sitting around and thinking looking for some magical, mystical thing called Purpose is a waste of time..

    When you are sitting still, your GPS has a hard time telling you which way to go. It’s much better at figuring out where you need to go while in motion and helping you make corrections along the way.

    Recently, Pharrell Williams talks about the importance of the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I recommend this as required reading for all entrepreneurs! In its essence it shares how there is nothing wasted in our journeys, and sometime a whole lot of faith is needed to cross the desert of discovery.

    1. Stephanie Halligan Post author

      Amen to that! And I’m a big believer in experimentation as the driver to finding your path. That’s incredible that you’ve found so much success in so many different places. Pharrell is one of my favorites and so is The Alchemist – I’m going to have to look that up 🙂

  2. Jen

    I find your blog inspiring. Currently I am home with my kids and inspiring them to follow their dreams and learn how to make money as adults, by following their passions. But your blog gives reminds me to focus on my hobbies as well. Thanks for the food for thought!

    1. Stephanie Halligan Post author

      Keep it up, Jen! You never know where your passion or your hobby will take you later in life.

  3. Chas

    Stephanie, we have so much in common. I can totally relate to this post. I actually have a B.F.A. Degree. I was brainwashed into thinking I needed it to break into the world of art. Instead, I was left with a pile of debt and my art died on the vine. The work is the most important- a piece of paper means nothing. After I got my degree one of my paintings was accepted into a show at the Paris-Gibson Museum of fine art in Great Falls, Montana. (the Charles M. Russell Museum is also located there in his old log cabin). I actually drove there to deliver the painting personally. But, then I had to take a construction job to pay the rent. My art floundered. If you ever produce a hard copy of your comic, I would be interested in it. I know it’s old school, but, it’s a textual thing. I actually prefer paper books to kindle editions. Thanks for this post.


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