From hedge funds to box hedges

I spent most of my time sitting at a desk under fluoro lights. The closest I came to landscaping were the occasional indoor box plants

Combining our passion with our working life is something that most of us would like to achieve. And yet, it remains just an elusive ideal for the vast majority.

To begin with, there are many people who aren't even sure exactly what their passion is (those people should really take our Passion Quiz). And for those lucky enough to have a hobby they love, there's still the question of how to turn it into paid work. Especially if you're passionate about something niche like quilting and patchwork? Or restoring vintage cars? Or sketching rural scenes with charcoal and crayon? Often, this can be the real stumbling block. And it's why most people settle for pursuing their passion outside of work hours.

This binary, all-or-nothing, arrangement of work and leisure is something Paul adhered to for many years, without really considering the idea that there were creative alternatives available. He had a passionate interest in landscape design and construction but spent his working life in an environment that was almost the exact opposite.

"I was with the bank for 42 years," he said. "My working life was all about financial transactions, debits and credits, columns and ledgers, numbers and figures. I spent most of my time sitting at a desk under fluoro lights. The closest I came to landscaping were the occasional indoor box plants, none of which ever seemed to look very healthy or happy."

But Paul managed to remain tapped into his passion during weekends and on holidays. He enrolled himself in a Certificate II landscaping course with TAFE, mostly to pick up some extra skills and knowledge. He still didn't really see it as a career path he would go down.

"The opportunity came to me about four years ago when I did the Certificate II course," he said. "I just did it as a thing on the side. Just to get into it and see if I could handle it. I did it more as a hobby, really."

Since retiring from the bank, Paul's "hobby" has taken on a life of its own. He's now in his third year of a Certificate III in Landscape Construction at Padstow TAFE and has robust plans for his future.

"The plan is to move into landscape construction on a more committed basis, maybe even start my own business," he said. "The experience with TAFE has been excellent. The teachers here are great. They're helpful and explain things well, which is great for someone like me who might need to do something twice. We've done two or three jobs outside, concreting and paving at schools. We've done work on Campus as well, brick walls and things. And also gigs like the Royal Easter Show. I learn on site but TAFE really fills in the gaps."

Paul is truly one of the lucky ones to have found a career area, be it later in life, that he loves. According to the Deloitte Shift Index survey published in Business Insider Australia, a whopping 80% of people are dissatisfied with their jobs! But, it doesn't have to be this way. Like Paul, you can go back to the drawing board and set down a different career path in a job that you are happy to turn up to each day.

John Seely Brown, former chief scientist of Xerox, wrote "In a world of mounting economic pressure driven by intensifying global competition, passion is essential to the kind of performance improvement needed to succeed." This is a sentiment we wholeheartedly endorse.

Go forth, find your passion and turn it into a career! Take our Passion Quiz now!