Now Is The Time To Turn Your Passion Into Profits
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We are in the third week of unemployment claims in the millions, totaling around 16.8 million (reported) jobless claims. Now, more than ever, innovation and creativity will fuel the economy.
About four years ago I was laid off. I was working at a small PR firm in Boston managing social media strategy for a variety of clients. At the same time, I was still writing and speaking, with some personal development coaching clients mixed in.
A few short months prior to the layoff, I had just moved into a new apartment and had planned on using it as a starting point for building a new life. But the universe had other plans.
Considering nearly 17 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last 3 weeks (upon writing this), a few of you can probably relate.
I have always been unorthodox in my career decisions. Having grown up in an entrepreneurial family, I always valued freedom and autonomy. That translates to a non-traditional resume that made it more difficult to land interviews and jobs.
But, bills must be paid. So I made a decision.
I went all-in. I went all-in on branding myself, creating virtual online courses, selling coaching programs and packages, pitching speaking engagements, writing daily.
I knew I needed to carve my own path and take the reins. I’d been laid off and fired enough times before to know that things can change at a moment’s notice when someone else is in control. Hell, even when they aren’t.
I’ve been doing my own thing ever since.
Now due to coronavirus shutdowns, millions are finding themselves in the same boat. I was fortunate and was living on my own, single, with no children. Many have far more responsibility than I had then, and feel lost or hopeless.
While it may not feel like it, this is an opportunity. Everyone out there has a skill or value-add they can bring to the table. Perhaps you’ve got an eye for branding, maybe you’re a phenomenal singer, or artist, or videographer.
Or maybe you’ve always been interested in developing a certain skill but never had the time — until now.
Whether or not you have something that can be immediately monetized is not the point. The point is that you can develop an ability and bring it to the marketplace.
I often think of the story of a gold rush, and how the people who made the most money weren’t the ones digging for gold — they were the ones selling the shovels.
There are things that people will always need. Necessities, consumables, small indulgences. While many people and businesses are falling on hard times, many are still able to pay for your services as well, you’ll just have to adjust what you offer.
Here’s a great example:
A good friend of mine, Rachel, owns an indoor children’s playground in southern New Hampshire. For obvious reasons, the playground is currently closed and revenue has halted.
Given that we are around Easter time, Rachel began offering no-contact Easter Bunny visits for children in the area. Parents pay a small fee and the Easter Bunny comes to the house, dances outside in the yard, and can even leave a basket for an additional cost.
The schedule is fully booked and bursting at the seams while people clamor for even more visits. People in the area have begun to copy the idea.
Now, Rachel is offering a Birthday in a Box where a character will come to your house and drop off everything you need for a special birthday party. Balloons, decorations, et al.
Demand is through the roof.
Rachel is unwittingly giving a masterclass in business adaptation. We all must be willing and able to pivot at a moment’s notice.
There are countless businesses like Rachel’s who’ve got overhead and employees that all need to be paid for. There are also sole proprietors, gig workers, freelancers, and many others who are being forced to create new means to generate revenue and keep the lights on.
This is a chance to reflect on what your real passions are and where your skillset lies. It’s an opportunity for growth and change, to find out what you’re really made of. Not everyone pursues a career path that is in line with their true purpose — and what better reminder of that than to be left to your own devices?
Call me an eternal optimist, but challenging times require expansion of the mind. Sometimes even, a shift in identity. The skillset and mindset you’ve adopted have already gotten you as far as they’ll get you. In order for our opportunities and abilities to grow and expand, so must we as humans.
The identity you’ve aligned with thus far is being challenged in this moment. Perhaps you “are an accountant” or “are a lawyer” or define yourself by your career path — but that’s not reflective of who you are as a human being. Now is the time to remember that. (Continued below video).
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Each of us is shaped by the experiences we have in this life, but we do not have to be DEFINED by them. We have the ability every single day to CHOOSE who we want to be and how we want to show up in the world. Now is the time to stop being ruled by your past, and start consciously creating your future.
We must face this challenge head on. Network, make calls, reach out, ask for help. Be creative, innovative, think back on every time someone has asked you for help and see if you can turn that into a business offer. For years now we have been talking about the “gig economy” where so many are on their own freelancing or contracting, but that is usually by choice and a life path taken by those who’ve stepped into that mindset.
Now, millions of others are being forced to do the same without an option. Sure, some relief will come in the form of unemployment assistance, but we need to be honest about the recovery period that will come after all of this is said and done.
I am not an economic expert of any kind but I have a hard time believing people will flood back into stores and restaurants the moment restrictions are lifted.
There will be skepticism, nervousness, hesitancy. People will need to pay for necessities and essentials before indulging in luxuries again, particularly if they have been out of work for a month or more.
Our spending and priorities will shift, even if just for a little while. I believe people will prioritize experiences over possessions, time with friends and family over material items, and pursue a deeper sense of fulfillment in their lives as they’ve been starkly reminded of how quickly it can all change.
I believe people will be looking for services and products that touch them on a deeper level, that will enrich their lives in new ways, that bring them closer to others and make them feel better about themselves.
These are hard times, there is no doubt. There is uncertainty and stress and isolation. But humans exist today because of our resiliency and our ability to adapt to the world around us. We have all of the tools and technology we need to thrive right at our fingertips, and as we face this challenge together, we can use these tools to rise above it in new and unique ways.
I believe in your ability to overcome whatever is currently overwhelming you. You have survived 100% of your darkest days because you are an adaptation machine, and you will survive this as well.
Someday, you will look back on this dismal period and tell the story of how you chose to handle it. That story is being written at this very moment.
Make it a good one.
I originally published this piece on Medium.
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