It is easy to give up on our passions by giving excuses to ourselves
Keeping our passions alive is in itself not easy and over it keeping our pockets ready to pursue them is scarier. I’m a live example of this. It might come as a shock, but I had once given up on my passion only because of my own financial insecurities. Going back to 1997-1998, I had found my first passion in Badminton. I had earned the titles of State Championship and represented myself at Badminton Nationals. My entire life revolved around badminton and I’d never imagined my life without it. Come 1999, my parents had forced me to quit badminton to prepare for my board exams. I didn’t try enough to convince them to let me make a career in Badminton. I spent next 6 years in almost depression. For years I kept blaming them for breaking me down with that decision. Living in Himalayas gave me some “nirvana” if not much. I accepted that it was me who was insecure of my earnings - if I made a career in Badminton and didn't make enough money for my living. It was easier to give up.
Started spending on my passions (dancing) after I started earning
Taking up computer engineering, getting iob in IT multinationals and living a comfortable life was easy. I joined TCS Ahmedabad for my first job. I was a workaholic and progressed well during the first year. Very soon I was exposed to the other factors of the corporate life which didn’t interest me much. After I was done stocking my wardrobe with the best of the brands, money didn’t affect me much. I wanted to pursue my passions. I didn’t manage to find good players to play badminton with in Ahmedabad. So I picked up my next passion - Dancing (I had done a degree in Katthak in my school days) for my after office hours. I joined the best dance classes in the town and enhanced my dancing skills to Jive, Salsa, Cha cha cha, waltz, hip-hop and Jazz. When most others (earning as good as me) would worry about the fees, I went ahead and paid for it. I was saving on other unnecessary things in life like salons, beauty parlours, fashion handbags, dresses, sandals and make-up. I started swimming again.
Moved to Pune to continue pursuing my passion in sports and adventure
I’d taken my first ever Himalayan trek to Bhrigu Lake (14500 feet) when I was 16 years old, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I didn’t understand how to pursue my passion into adventure with my job, so I took up a job with Infosys and moved to Pune with the idea of trying out adventure activities in the outskirts on the weekends. To my surprise, I found sexy wooden badminton courts right inside Infosys campus. I picked up my racquet again after a gap of 12 long years, and spent all my after office hours on the courts and held the title of "Corporate Badminton Champion of Pune" for all the years I lived in Pune.
I started taking out time and money for dancing (this time it was Tango with Sandip Soparrkar and Bachata). On the weekends I started exploring the city - the markets, the bars, the spas, the restaurants, the night-life. Very soon I bought my sweetheart i10 on EMI (Infosys had given me a good hike on joining) so that I could start venturing out of town on weekends. Long drives soon turned into road trips.
I started taking up weekend treks and other adventure activities in the Sahyadris.
Started traveling to take my passions (trekking and scuba diving) to another level
I switched my job to IBM with little more increment and upgraded my wines from Sula to French wines, trekking in Sahyadris to trekking in Himalayas. The more I trekked in Himalayas, I realised that doing things makes me happier than owning things. I’ve written a separate post on this - How trekking changed my attitude towards life. With this changed attitude, I could save on lot of materialistic luxuries that were once a part of my life and I started saving little more to spend on tougher and costlier mountain expeditions and on my international trips for Scuba Diving. I had to spend a lot on my gears as well.
Quit my IT career to give myself a chance to make a living out of my passions
I never owned anything big except my car. I never had savings to invest in anything, apart from the yearly Tax saver FDs. I was comfortable managing the best lifestyle I could give to myself. But comfort always made me uncomfortable. Something that constantly kept bothering me was that I wasn’t making any use of my potential at all and that frustrated me. I knew my potential was way beyond my own imagination. And I’d again found my passion - this time it was into Adventures. After working for 9.5 years, I gathered enough courage to quit my job, take a break for a year and figure out if I had enough courage to work towards my passions. The only savings I had when I quit my job were my Tax-Saver FDs that had started maturing and my PF that I’d gathered over the years. I still had the courage to give up most of my belongings, kept only what I really needed that could be packed in my car, so that I could be easily mobile and location independent.
Lived on my savings and collaborated with Tourism Boards
After quitting my job, I spent the entire year on my savings - went on 1.5 months backpacking and adventure trip to Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia), lived and backpacked in different parts of Himachal Pradesh for 16 months, even bought a Macbook Air and high-end trekking shoes. I was consciously and wisely avoiding spending on most of the things I didn't require, and spent only on the basics. I started blogging frequently after I moved to Tirthan Valley. I got invited for a few sponsored trips by tourism boards. For blogging assignments, I did a few sponsored treks with a few trekking companies and got invited to luxury properties for property reviews.
Freelanced as travel blogger and travel planner
My 1 year break ended in March2017 and I was supposed to start earning from Arpil again (according to my initial plan). But I had made up my mind not to go back to corporate and give myself a chance to make my living though my passion of adventure travel. I panicked a little about my earnings and started freelancing with travel companies for travel writing and blogging assignments, and personalising trips for few interested travellers (this wasn’t easy either. I had even carried my laptop on the Everest Base Camp trek and was working from there on the acclimatisation days). The freelance work started paying 80% of my minimalistic bills and on the side I was constantly working to get into the business side of adventure travel.
Made my way to my dream job
It took me 4 more months than my deadline, and eventually I ended up with a dream job. I’m now the Product Manager for SCUBA Diving for Trip360 (new adventure unit of Cox and Kings). Adventure and Travel is now my work!! Getting here was extremely difficult, but I’m happy that I didn’t give up on my second passion because of financial insecurities.
So all of you who were just looking for figures and calculations such as how much percentage of my salary I kept for my passions, how much per year I spent on my travels, and the likes, I know I’ve disappointed you with this post.
But I can proudly say that all of my passions were completely financed by my own self, even while I took care of all my living expenses, took care of myself when I fell sick, cooked/bought my own food, drove myself to everywhere, stood up for myself, made my own decisions, pampered myself with wines - ALL BY MYSELF. AND EVERYTHING CAME WITH A COST!
All I’m trying to convey is that it was never about how much I earned (I’ve compromised a lot on my earnings to give time to my passions) and how much I spent. It was always about my attitude towards my passions and my priorities.
I considered spending on my passions as an investment, which is eventually paying off.