I can still clearly remember the obsessive levels to which I would work, in fashion, in costume, as a writer, as in a whole host of other things I have loved and still love to greater or lesser degrees. But I don’t have that passion anymore. Maybe I am just getting older. Maybe I just understand work life balance better these days. Maybe too many downs and not enough ups have grounded me.
When I was very passionate about the things I loved, I had other commitments. I juggled a 9-5, 5-day a week job that paid for everything I needed and so time enjoying the things I really loved was short and precious and I was never under any pressure to turn ideas into money.
Now that I’ve been able to do (within reason) exactly what I’ve always wanted to do, for the past 10 years, I’ve learned a lot along the way about my industries. It hasn’t necessarily been inspiring and, in fact, has made working as a one man band a lot more challenging. And so my drive has eased off. And if I am honest, I always knew that turning my passionate hobby into a career move, ran risks.
To be fair, I have been writing and designing and making since I was a child, so we’re talking over 30 years now. They are lifetime things that have lasted longer than most people ever envisage being in a career these days. Realistically, there is no reason why I shouldn’t want to take a break, or find a new direction. But there is something about losing intense passion for the thing that is supposed to be your bread and butter that is worrying, disturbing, disconcerting. It feels like failure.
What if I never get that obsessive passion back again? Does it matter? What if I need to take a prolonged break? What am I going to do instead for income? What if I decide to take a career break, move on completely forever? Is that likely? Is that what people do?
University as a mature student is what knocked the wind out of my sails. I managed to regain much of my desire for the industry after a couple of years, but it’s not been an easy ride and I don’t think I will ever get back to the levels I had before. The question is, does it matter, or is okay to take a more relaxed attitude towards things? I am not a fast fashion brand trying to stake my claim across the world. I am not competative. I just want to be happy doing what I do, earning enough to pay my bills. I don’t want to be famous or a household name.
Small business owners are expected to work long hours, churn out content, work weekends and be a jack of all trades when it comes to marketing and sales. But in the real world, that isn’t realistic. You need infrustrature and support networks to make the transition effectively. I’ve stopped working weekends, but only in the last few months. I’ve only had two holidays in 10 years. I am trying to find balance. Maybe I have just temporarily burned out. That would seem logical.
Without a doubt this is not a new worry for business owners who suddenly find themselves on the precipice. The range of articles you can find on Google is testament to that. What is clear is that you cannot just force passion or creativity. It has to, in part, find you again, and you have to work on environmental changes, breaks in routine, new experiences and fresh directions to jolt you back into action. Above all, you need to look after yourself. I haven’t done that.
There is no prescription for how to deal with a loss of passion. It depends on many factors in your life, the things going on around you that may well have a big influence on your creative abilities. Do you have stressful living conditions? Do you have too few outside interests to take you away from the studio? Are money issues causing stress? Is your working environment wrong? Maybe your creative passions have become a chore because you turned them into the money maker in your life?
Sometimes, however, it’s time for change. How you decide if you have reached that point, is up to you to decide. I have made big changes in my life many times, but my creative desires remained the same and followed me wherever I went. And whilst I can’t see me turning my back on my career choices just yet, I could imagine taking a break and travelling around the world for 6 months – if only I had the funds to do so.