Follow your passion – but plan it carefully

Pursuing your passion as an entrepreneur may make for a great life, but not necessarily a great standard of living.

Gary Clement  for The National
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"To have money, it seemed, was to be consumed by money."
The person who said this must be increasingly troubled – her ongoing successes are bringing in even more money – and she was already well in the black. Now she's gone and done it again. Not another literary creation, but an aesthetic work. Make-up. As of last month, the Nig­erian novelist Chimamanda Adichie is the new face of Boots No7.
A feminist selling make-up. Is that an oxymoron?
I wish I had the guts, and grey matter of Adichie. A truly iconic powerhouse.
She left medical studies and ended up doing what she loves. Writing.
And boy did she make it. Her work is in lights – Hollywood lights – and her novels have won her acclaim and awards.
She is someone who embodies the modern-day mantra that states that money will follow if we do what we love.
But I believe that's a myth. A dangerous myth.
Fame and fortune aside, if you follow this advice, you might end up not being able to pay your bills and sustain yourself. Pursuing your passion may make for a great life, but not a great living.
But it doesn't have to be like this.
My message today is: you can do what you love – if you have your boring but important fin­ancial building blocks in place. Otherwise you will likely go bust.
Here are a few things to think about:
Fund your transition. It's as simple as making sure all your expenses are covered for how­ever long you think it'll take you to start earning from the new skill or passion. Then multiply it by three. Make sure this cash is in the bank.
Get buy-in from your family. Are you a family of one? That one being just you? If so, you are free to do as you wish. Just make sure you don't go cap in hand to anyone. If they have money to lend it's because they saved – most likely earnings from a job they don't particularly love – while you've been living your dream. The real­ity is that you have other people in your life. You need them on board. People often don't realise how long things take and how much effort, blood and sweat goes into changing a car­eer or creating a business. If you don't have the support of your loved ones, it'll drive a wedge or worse.
Know when to pull the plug. Having a partner who earns can facilitate you trying things out – which is a gift. But it can also be a curse if you don't decide when to pull the plug on your venture. It could be if you don't earn enough from it by a certain point in time, or any other benchmark you choose. Make a decision. And stick to it. I mean it.
Develop an intimate relationship with your money. Someone once told me that yes, she has a relationship with her money. It is brief. If you want to change careers, develop a passion into a business or earn from it, your relationship must be deep and intimate. You must know what money is coming in and going out at all times. No, you can't spend "because you're worth it" or because you feel low and want a pick-me-up. You're in for the long-haul, and every dirham counts.
Chimamanda is an exceptional person. I love her prose and her message. Chances are that whatever your passion, you will never be as successful, or in the money as she is.
Another way of dealing with this is to love what you do – not necessarily do what you love.
Here's my twist on what Adichie said at the start:
"To have money, it seems, is to be intimate with it."
Plan your passion.
Nima Abu Wardeh describes herself using three words: Person. Parent. Pupil. Each day she works out which one gets priority, sharing her journey on
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