Sharing your interests and personal projects can lead to paying work for others – from the Career Opportunities Podcast

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Many people like to think that there is work and there is play and there is never any crossover between them. We do “work” to earn money to pay for our food, our clothing, our houses. We “play” to escape our work and have fun. I was reminded this week, though, that playing can also result in more creative and fulfilling work, often in entirely new areas. In today’s work world, where everyone is an entrepreneur regardless of where they work, we all need to be looking for those new, unique ways, to expand our work and build a career that is both lucrative and fulfilling. Often, this means engaging in new ideas and projects simply for the sheer fun of it. I can tell you from personal experience that you never know where it might lead.


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My most recent story of turning play into paying work started a few months ago. I was working in my computer consultant role for a friend of a friend. It was some typical Windows-related software issues that I fixed in about an hour. This was my traditional work role — fix the problem and get paid.

At this client’s house, though, there was a beautiful Asian-influenced garden. There, in the heart of the suburban San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, was a tranquil retreat for both the owner and the clients who came to her creativity consulting business. I was so struck with the garden that I asked the client if I might take a few photos to share on my garden blog — another aspect of the far flung areas of my work/play. When I returned home, I posted those photos to my blog and then also created a short montage video, which I naturally shared with her.

Peaceful Garden

Fast forward to about 6 months later. This same client contacted me again, but not for my traditional computer consulting. She was holding a creativity event and wanted to know if I could create some testimonial videos for her business with the people who would be attending. She had quite liked my original garden video and since she already already knew my work she felt comfortable in hiring me for this new project. Had I not taken a few moments to document her garden for another aspect of my work — and share those photos and video through my blog — she would have probably never known I was even capable of video production.

This story directly points out how important it is for all of us to engage in activities outside our typical work — and share those activities with others. You never know where your next job, your next project, your next career may come from. I have found over the years that these serendipitous moments are often the source of my most fulfilling and lucrative work. It may seem odd to combine work with play and personal projects, but it is through this combination that we develop our own personal career and create opportunities we may never have thought possible.

The strange fact is, we are often the worst judge of our own talents and value. We can be dismissive of our leisure activities and think that there is no way these activities could also help us earn a living. This is why it is so important to share these activities and let others decide how useful they might be. In this particular case, the client simply did not have the skills — or interest, for that matter — in creating these videos, even though she knew they would be very useful for her web site. Once she saw my interest and abilities, she realized she had found someone who she could pay to bring the project to fruition. Had I never shared my interests and skills, though, we both would have missed out on a great opportunity.

Starting today, I want you to think about your own interests and hobbies and how you might share those interests with others. Surely, not every part of your “play” needs to be turned into paying work, but wouldn’t it be great to earn money doing something you absolutely love? This can’t happen, though, unless others know about your love, your skills and what you can create for them. Open yourself up to opportunities all around you, simply by letting others know what you find interesting and fun. You never know where it might lead.


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