Maybe you secretly want to make kids' toys or run hot air balloons. Or maybe you can't stop thinking about what it would be like to run your own vet clinic. Whatever your passion really is, now might be the perfect time to go after it.

Why we're finally taking a leap toward what we love

Traditionally, most people don't do what they really have a heart for--only about 1 out of 5 people end up in the profession they dreamed of as a kid. Part of that is simply the increasingly competitive nature of the market. Another part is FOMO (we often would take good pay and keep up with the Joneses than admit our real calling). And lastly, we tend to have the word "no" shouted through bullhorns at us at just about every turn. 

But there's this thing now you probably have heard of, the gig economy. While plenty of people use the gig economy simply to help their budgets, it also translates to more opportunities to experiment with different types of work and find/confirm what's exciting and fulfilling to you. Handle them well and those experiments can turn into million- or even billion-dollar enterprises. In fact, some of the biggest names in business--for example, Apple, Etsy, Under Armour and Instagram--all started "on the side".

Then there's the sheer amount of job dissatisfaction that hovers over corporate America like smothering smog. Research indicates that people are happier in their jobs than they used to be, which we can be proud and optimistic about. But 30 percent of workers still say their jobs are "just to get by", with 6 and 9 percent of surveyed employees saying they're "very dissatisfied" or somewhat dissatisfied, respectively.

Consider, too, just how much "busy-ness" fills our lives. While we do have free time, we're still bombarded by screens and alerts, responsibilities for others and general noise/distractions. It's hard not to want to recenter and connect to ourselves, to somehow simplify by finally listening to who we are instead of what everything else wants us to be.

As a result of these types of factors, more people are giving their dreams a shot, and niche markets are growing at record rates. A good example is the fitness boutique industry, which fits the millennial emphasis on wellbeing, and which the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts will grow by 10 percent through 2026.

Steph Sklar Mulcahy, franchisee with CycleBar in Culver City, CA, turned to the fitness industry from a successful television career. After transforming herself from a self-proclaimed couch potato to a marathoner, Mulcahy was inspired to merge fitness and philanthropy through the 7-day, 545-mile AIDs/Lifecycle Ride. She eventually found Cyclebar through tedious Googling related to business ownership.

"What attracted to me to CycleBar was that the foundation of the business was built on giving back to the community, one of my personal values," Mulcahy says. "[...] I wake up every morning with a purpose--knowing that I've created a community of riders that inspire me and inspire each other through health and wellness."

Heather Gillihan, franchisee with Zoom Room Trophy Club in Texas, went from a lucrative career as a rocket scientist--yes, really, a rocket scientist--to environmental engineering, finishing with teaching. But what really spoke to her was man's best friend.

"While my other pursuits have been worthwhile, training my own personal dogs was pure joy," Gillihan asserts, "and I realized that I could help others find that same joy with their own dogs. [...] If even one dog avoids being surrendered to a shelter because of my efforts through Zoom Room, then it will have been worth the journey!"

With hard work and self-faith, it's doable

Now, none of this means that there's not serious work involved. When you go after what you love, you still have to have a business plan, for example. There are still partnerships to form, contracts to sign and employees to hire. You'll still get tired. But the difference is, the passion you bring to the job makes all of that "yuck" bearable. It reenergizes you so that, at the end of the day, you say you'll pull on your gloves again in the morning instead of throwing in the towel. And perhaps most importantly, it inspires you to persist even when naysayers point their fingers in your face.

Dave Lavalle, founder of Dryer Vent Wizard, admits that he was once his own worst critic. He says his past failures had everything to do with his own skepticism. But he's learned to "go all in" and encourages others to have more self-faith.

"If there are doubters in anything that you do or believe in," Lavalle says, "prove them wrong! [...] You need to be positive, passionate and persistent. Keep your positive energy going forward and you can do anything."

Published on: Jul 30, 2018