I meet many people who are unhappy in their jobs or who labor in unhealthy work situations.

They often feel that there’s a better way to put their talents to use, that there’s something out there they could actually enjoy, but they either aren’t sure what it is or they don’t know how to make money from it.

So they ask the question: “How can I turn my passion into profit?”

I love when someone starts asking this question. It means they’ve woken up to the fact that things don’t have to be this way. They don’t have to spend a majority of their time doing something that’s exhausting, meaningless, or painful.

It’s great that they’re asking the question; unfortunately it’s the wrong question to ask.

Father of anthropology Claude Levi-Strauss once said, “The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers; he is one who asks the right questions.”

If we don’t ask the right questions, we won’t get good answers, and bad answers often lead us to spend lots of time and energy pursuing things that don’t end up giving us what we really want.

So what’s the right question in this case? I’m so glad you asked. It’s…

 Why do you want to turn your passion into profit?

Some people want to make money off their passion because they want to enjoy the work they do for 8+ hours everyday. Others want to spend more time doing a particular activity they love. Some want to find more meaning or purpose in their work, some want to contribute their gifts more powerfully, and others want to create a particular positive change in the world.

The list goes on. There are as many reasons to want to profit off your passion as there are people in the world.

Over the weekend I saw a performance by Stic, member of hip hop group dead prez and leader of the so-called fit hop movement. Stic rapped about the benefits of a plant-based diet, working out hard, yoga, and even Bruce Lee. Needless to say, I was beside myself the entire time.

Why am I bringing this up? In part because I want you to know that I’m still a little hip (and perhaps more than a little nerdy). But the more relevant point is, here’s a classic hip hop artist who’s gone out on his own with a mission and a message: be fit and live a healthy life. He’s clearly passionate about hip hop and health, and the whole performance was energized, inspired, and frankly, unlike anything I’d ever seen before.

If Stic were to ask how to turn his passions into profit, he might come up with some less innovative answers. He could, for example, tour with his partner as the well-known dead prez or try to make it big with another group. Or he might become a personal trainer, wellness coach, or chef. If he had wanted to make money from his passion, rapping about health was probably not the most obvious answer. (Though it could certainly grow, my guess is that the market for vegetarian hip hop is still fairly small.)

If, on the other hand, Stic asked how he could put his greatest talents to use creating the change he wanted to see in the world, then starting a hip hop movement about being healthy was an obvious answer.

Asking the right questions leads to the right answers. It also opens up options that didn’t exist before.

Once you’ve gotten clear on why you want to turn your passion into profit, ask yourself how you might accomplish that.

How can you enjoy your work more? How can you do more of what you love? How can you put your greatest gifts to use? How can you have the impact you want to have in the world?

In my experience, these questions will open up tons more possibilities than simply asking how to turn your passion into profit.

Still hungry for more practical suggestions? I would be too. Check out my next post for how to go about finding what you now know you want.

***Photo credit: Alexey Krasavin