I'm pleased to share a guest post from Cara Meredith, a writer and speaker from Seattle, Washington. She writes for a number of online and print publications, and her first book, a memoir about her journey into issues of race, releases in January 2019 (Zondervan). Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

The act in and of itself felt daring, if not rebellious: I signed my two young sons up for full-day preschool two days a week.

For the work-from-home parent, placing your child in daycare twenty-four hours a week doesn't necessarily lead to an extreme amount of quality time. But I wasn't actually spending that much quality time with them to begin with.

I spent much of our time positioning them in front of the iPad or beside a crate full of Thomas the Train pieces. I just needed a little bit of entertainment time for them, and a little bit of work time for me.

Desperate for a couple of hours to meet article and book deadlines, I realized that I was treating my job like a hobby, instead of a career.

How then do you turn your hobby into a business, whether or not a hip-hugging three-year-old is part of the equation? How can we value the professional side of our identities enough to take critical next steps?

Taking the steps to turn your hobby into a job is necessary, not only for purposes of making income, but also for purposes of living up to your potential and pursuing your dreams. You deserve the best chance at success at this undertaking.

Here's what I recommend:

1. Do the math.

How much money do you need to bring in to pay for childcare or make your mortgage payment every month? Maybe it starts small, with your dedicating only one full day a week to pursuing your dream. If a babysitter or childcare costs $100 a week, do the math accordingly: do you need to net $400 a month in income, or can you and your family can get by with a net income of $200 a month? Regardless of the outcome, you now have a legitimate goal in place.

2. Make a plan.

When I set about getting paid to write, I made it my goal to pitch to a different online or print publication every Monday morning. I did my homework, both in content and in stylistic feel. I followed pitching protocol and editorial specifications. I sought to make connections, and I went for it, even if--and when--rejection seemed more prominent than sparse.

Consider writing down weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals, so you can take steps toward turning your hobby into a revenue-generating job.

3. Talk to your partner or a trusted friend.

You started out designing and sewing clothes for your son, and then a friend mentions you should start a shop on Etsy. Pretty soon the naptime hobby becomes a thirty-hour-a-week obligation, and you're struggling to care for your child and manage home responsibilities.

Open up to your partner about your wants and needs. Come up with a solution together that best fits your lifestyle, your family's financial and emotional situation, and your personal needs.

If you don't have a significant other, confide in a friend who can listen, provide feedback, and hold you accountable to creating space for your work.

4. Believe in it! Then, do the hard work.

If you're anything like me, you'll have trouble give yourself and your talents enough credit. I thought I had to wait until an agent or editor discovered me instead of recognizing that, as Thomas Edison said, "genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration." So I learned to call myself a writer and to get my butt in the chair to do the hard work of writing every day.

If you feel the same, you have to believe in yourself and your work! Then, get your butt in the chair (whatever "the chair" might be for you), and get working.

By neglecting to give value to our work, we negate our sense of self-worth. When we believe that our hobbies remain secondary at best (and unimportant at worst) to the duties of childrearing, housecleaning, or even other career responsibilities, we forget that our vocational identity is just as important as the other parts of ourselves.

So, give yourself--and your work--a little bit of credit. Believe in the value of your vocation, put some perspiration to action, and watch and see that hobby transform into a job. For me, putting my kids in all-day preschool two days a week transformed the way I viewed my vocational self. I began to believe that my job is worth it.

I don't doubt it will do the same for you.

Published on: Oct 6, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.