The Practicality of Doing What You Love

I’m the last one to shoot down anyone’s dreams. I often do things in life that don’t lead to any financial benefit whatsoever. But sometimes I just do things because I enjoy them.

Case-in-point. I’ve spent a lot of money on hobbies in the past. Fly-fishing is one of them. I really love fly fishing and it turns out to be a somewhat expensive hobby. Even when I was once carrying a (cheaper) $200 fly rod and felt it snap while bushwhacking through a thicket of alders; I knew money just dropped out of my pocket never to be recovered. The same when I was casting into an ocean surf and it caught on something behind me; that snap ended my fishing for that weekend since I didn’t have money to pay for another heavy rod. No, fly fishing is not more costly than racing cars, competitive cycling, or wakeboarding. But its still expensive in a relative sense. But its something I love. Being on the water and in tune with nature is a priceless bonus.

Of course, there are other things I do that I love as well and costs a lot for training, but has paid for itself in the long run. I started doing Thai Yoga Massage after an expensive training. And if all goes well, I’ll continue to do it throughout my lifetime. Still, starting such a hobby at a late age makes you wonder if you’ll make all the money back in training to help your finances. Its a huge win to do something and actually get paid for it. You calculate how much you paid versus how much you get back over the years. You can calculate a break-even point where you start to actually make money. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll start to grow your income from your hobby.

I did this break-even calculation with yoga. I don’t make a heck of a lot of money from yoga, but its the consistency of classes over time that makes a difference. The biggest thing is that I really love to do it. Even if I only broke-even, it was worth the journey. And I think I have quite a few years left in me to teach.

So, I just read this story of a 60-something year old woman who went to Mexico to take yoga teacher training. I’m all on-board with that. If its something you love, then do it. But to be honest, she would never hit the break-even point even if she taught into her 80’s. The price of the training was $16,700 equivalent US dollars. If you are getting paid $25 to 50 for every yoga class, you’d have to teach a lot of classes to break even. Tragically, she died doing what she loved while still in training.

I did CrossFit level I training years ago hoping to maybe start my own gym (box) some day. I thought, at least I’d coach at a box somewhere. But that never happened for me. And its all OK. I am happy that I was able to learn what I learned through the process. I’m still passionate about CrossFit. But I have my own ideas of how it should be done. The tough as nails approach I used when I started is very far from where I am today. Its money I’ve made back in other ways. Just not through CrossFit itself. The same could be said of Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, and other courses I’ve taken.

I think with any decision in life, we should put things down on paper. Ask yourself about your goals in life and what you want to do. If you are doing something that you are passionate about to make money, then make it profitable. Does paying for an airplane flight to a far off country to some exotic training meet the profit margin? Maybe you study at a place like the Ashtanga Mysore Shala in India. Maybe you go to some other venue that enables you to market that relationship. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes people have some fantasy in their mind that is not very realistic. Sometimes they shop at Nieman Marcus in NYC when they could find the same product at their local Walmart. We do a lot of things for reasons other than practicality. We do them for street cred, for bragging rights, and other reasons not far from selfishness. Are you a better business person, accountant, or doctor if you go away for training? Or can you get the same or better training locally? Its a question every pre-college kid asks themselves. But adults looking to better their lives should ask the same questions.

We can’t operate in a bubble. Its usually better to do your research and ask the advice of friends and mentors. Think about what you are doing in life. And if you wonder why you are in deep debt, don’t have a savings, and no hope for retirement income, then maybe you need a better path. If you live to 50 years old and have nothing to say for yourself, then maybe some advice early on would have been useful. Ask these questions early in life. And if you are an old person like me, then you should know better by now.

I keep looking at things laying around my house. Will they mean anything when I’m gone? Probably not. So why do we cherish things that have no real value? Make good choices in life. Its not bad to be a planner or befriend someone who can help. Good choices early in life make for long-term differences.

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