How To Turn Your Passion Into Pay-Check and Dream To Reality - My Story
How to turn passion into a pay check and make the dream job a reality is the question I get asked often as a life coach. If you are following me on Instagram, you could have seen a ten-year-post I have published in December, comparing my journey from being heart broken, college drop-out, depressed, and having no clue what to do in life... to the life I am living today. I got so many comments, messages, and questions from many of you after posting, that I have decided to share with you my story more profoundly in this blog post, as well as some of the major life and success seasons I've learned so far, with the hope to motivate and inspire you, and guide you to follow your own passion and go after your BIG dreams.
FOLLOWING MY PASSION AND RECOVERING FROM DEPRESSION
After dropping out of Medical college, ten years ago, I decided to study Journalism, with desire to learn, study, recover fully from depression, and have fun. After my big dream and my "career plan" of being psychotherapist working on my own, helping and counselling people... was crushed into pieces, so I did not dare to think about the future and what I will do in life. I had no dream or plan of being journalist nor else... I just wanted to recover, study, and have fun while learning something new, creative, interesting... I was very much into spirituality, yoga, and self development, as it was connected with my BIG passion since childhood - Psychology and later on Psychotherapy and it was helping me to heal and recover from the depression. Practicing yoga has helped me so much that I started teaching it, with desire to help as many more people discover and practice it. I was volunteering to be an English translator whenever some spiritual teacher would come to give workshops, speech, retreats... I was learning as much of the guru-wisdom as I could from all the spiritual teachers I"ve came across, and practiced yoga intensively. During the second college year I realised how much I enjoyed writing, and during the third year I started writing articles and I fell in love with online media.
I was vegetarian for a few years that time and at the place I was living in my birth country Bosnia and Herzegovina where meat is a staple food ingredient, it was really difficult. There was not so much food available, neither spices, nor recipes. After discovering Indian vegetarian food and learning some basic dishes and how to combine spices and different vegetables being vegetarian became so much easier! I was wondering how many other vegetarian people in the region I was living must be struggling like myself every day with how and what to eat. One day I decided that I will create a Facebook page too share the valuable information about vegetarian food with other vegetarians to help others. Then I created a blog with recipes. My photos were not stylish at all, as I was taking shots while I was fast and furious cooking after college VERY hungry and publishing them raw and unedited. Not log after I also started writing articles on vegetarian food and later on about India, as I have traveled there and learned some things about vegetarian cooking, spices, sacred herbs with healing properties... I was blogging and writing articles regularly, like it was my job, with lot of passion and devotion, lead by desire to help others with my recipes and advice. I was not earning any money that time from it, for what some family members and many of my class mates were laughing about, saying that I was wasting my time.
As I was in college that time I was not having much of free time, so I decided to stop watching TV so that I can "save time" for creating blog posts and writing article. In last year of college I knew that want to work in online media and I want to write articles (I had more than 100 articles already published by then) but I still had no clear idea about what will I "do for a living" or how my career will look like. I decided not to plan or worry about that, believing that if I am really good and skilled in ANY-thing and I do it with passion, commitment, and devotion, job will (somehow) follow, even though in my country unemployment rate is big and many young people are struggling to get the job. I was so much passionate about self development that I co-created an online magazine three of my college friends - called "Arabella- Magazine For a Happy Woman", where we have had psychologists and life coaches sharing their advice and wisdom with our readers. Around the time of graduation I asked the editors of online magazines I was writing for to write the recommendation letter for me, thinking that after graduation I will be looking for (some) job. But, destiny had other plans for me...
photo gallery: 2009. - 2014. (vegetarian blog + india + spirituality)
success follows commitment and the impact you make in the world
After asking for recommendation letter the editor of the magazine I was a vegetarian columnist for two years replied in the e-mail that since I was about to graduate and look for a job, they were willing to offer me a honorary for my articles. I was mind-blown, as I was doing it already with so much devotion and passion for free for two years! Right around that time, my blog went viral, and I started getting TV interviews, features in various newspapers, magazines, and on YouTube... I "suddenly" became "the most famous vegetarian blogger" in the region and my online community on Facebook was rapidly growing. I started getting free healthy food delivered to my doorstep, free gifts from vegetarian business owners, free books, invitation to be a guest on Croatian National TV channel, invitations to give workshops in different countries (even on a beautiful Croatian island)! I started getting paid by other magazines as well to write articles and in few months I have become a freelance writer! I shifted to India one month after graduation, so I was lucky to be able to "carry my job with me" as I could work from anywhere, on my laptop!
I was working on my blog and writing articles for about two years more in India and then I discovered a life coaching training - a dream job which I did not dare to dream of ever as in my country that time it was not known, and there was not even training available. I followed my passion, intuition, heart, inner calling... once more and I enrolled in life coaching training. Once I completed my life coaching certification I wanted to do it full time and make it a "job", aware that there would be many obstacles and challenges ahead of me to overcome in my journey from freelance writer to full time life coach.
TAKING THE BIG LEAP AND CROSSING OVER THE BRIDGE THAT LEADS TOWARDS THE DREAM
I have had regular income coming from writing, I was established writer, famous blogger... in the vegetarian food blogging and healthy lifestyle niche, in the entire Balkan region where my native language was spoken. At the peak of my writing and blogging success I have decided that I want to leave that field and pursue life coaching! Life coaching was unknown at that time in my country, and also was not very popular in India, where I was living. To whomever I would mention that I'm a life coach, they would say back: "Life...what?" :-)) I knew that time if I wanted to really succeed as a life coach I would better focus on working internationally via Skype in English, which was not my native language. That meant creating a website in English, creating a blog in English, writing articles in English, doing motivational speaking in English... Although I was living abroad and I was speaking English every day and even simultaneously translating speeches and workshops and webinars... for years, I was not writing in English previously. I have had more than 300 articles published in my native language, but writing in English was a new skill that I need to "master".
I boldly decided that I will go after my dream and started working with a mentor life coach since the moment I got my certification. I worked with clients and with my mentor coach pro bono for six months to get the needed experience. I still remember how excited I was when I signed up my first life coaching client! I was writing passionately blog posts in English and later on articles as well. I was mind blown when my articles written in English were featured in many international publications, including The Huffington Post, and Tiny Buddha, and my dream of writing for my favourite ever happiness magazine Sensa, which I was passionately reading for ten years came true! I even became a columnist for the COSMOPOLITAN magazine!!! Not long after I became a life coach, another "wild" dream of mine came true! I moved to an apartment with a beautiful palm tree garden, where I can work on my laptop under the shades of palm trees while drinking coconut water or mango shake, and chill during sunny days in private swimming pool! Having a swimming pool was my dream, or better say a fantasy since childhood, as well as having domestic help at home, as I do not like house chores (which is easily affordable in India). I ended up in the end working on my own and helping people to overcome their life challenges and be happier - just like I was dreaming of, only I was working with coaching clients instead of patients. Life can sometimes fulfil our wishes in the most unexpected way, and even beyond our wildest dream!
No matter where you are in the world and what kind of obstacles and limitations you may be facing, I would like that my story inspires you and makes you believe that ANY-thing IS possible - if you devote time to learning the right skills, seek knowledge and mentors, work hard, follow your passion, commit to helping others with your gifts and talents, and believe in yourself! sometimes, the universe will have a different and much greater way to fulfil your dream - so be patient and trust the journey!
FACING THE CHALLENGES, ego, AND FEARS ALONG THE WAY
From the start of my life coaching journey there were challenges, obstacles, and limitations. First of all, I needed to start in writing in English. Second, I was an unknown new coach living in India who wanted to work internationally - it took me a lot of time and using all of the skills and knowledge on PR and online media which I've learned while studying journalism to build my brand and "stand out" in the niche. I was freelancing in day time, and working on my passion - life coaching in the evenings and on weekends, for one and half year, until I was earning more money from life coaching than from writing and had the courage to write an e-mail to my writing clients - that I would no longer write about vegetarian food and healthy lifestyle and I was switching to full time coaching work. It took me a long time of "thinking over it" and courage to finally leave the "secure" income stream and "burn the bridges". I did not want to do it too hastily and become desperate for booking clients afterwards, regretting the decision. I also did not want to prolong it for too long, as it was a very intense and hardworking period to bare - I was spending my entire days in front of laptop, writing, typing, coaching... Once I have become full time life coach, more and more clients started showing up and I was landing more and more media features internationally (one I am most proud of was in The Inspired Coach magazine), and my articles waste even featured on the blog of Mike Dooley, one of the teachers in documentary movie "The Secret"!
Besides these "big" challenges, there were other limitations and frustrations "popping up". For example, in the beginning of my coaching journey when I was supposed to give my first ever group life coaching session with my mentor coach, which was booked on the day I moved to a new home (with palms and pool :-)) the internet connection was temporarily connected with a lose wire, that was hanging over the door. Any time the door would be closed or open by someone out of many people helping with shifting the furniture that night my internet connection would get cut! My furniture was still in boxes that night so I was sitting on the cartoon box, while placing my laptop on two cartoon boxes in front of me, so that I can conduct the session. :-)) Then, once we started, we had a technical issue with Skype. :-)) Everything was kind of against me that night, but I was determined that I WILL conduct that session! :-)) When I was going to conduct my first session with paid life coaching client, the internet connection got cut for like one hour! :-)) But I was determined not to give up and did not allow all these things to discourage me!
SOMETIMES, THE JOURNEY TOWARDS OUR DREAM JOB, OR EVEN DOING THE THE DREAM JOB WILL NOT BE ALL MACAROONS, RAINBOWS, AND SUNSHINE! THERE MAY BE BAD WEATHER PRIOR TO THE RAINBOW APPEARING, BITTER TASTE OF DISAPPOINTMENT OR REJECTION BEFORE TASTING THE MACAROON, AND DARK CLOUDS APPEARING IN THE SKY WHICH WILL HIDE THE SUNSHINE. ACCEPT IT AS A PART OF YOUR JOURNEY. IF YOU LOSE THE MOTIVATION, FAITH, AND COURAGE AFTER THE FIRST OBSTACLE(S) AND DISAPPOINTMENT(S), YOU MAY NEVER ENJOY THE RAINBOW AND MACAROONS!
When I just started getting requests for life coaching and building my social media channels, I had to travel often and later on stay longer time in Chandighar, where I had VERY weak internet connection and it was a time-consuming torture to do any of my work. Sometimes, there would be a technical issue, payment issue, important mail ending up in spam (reality of an online business). In December 2017, during the "golden month" for coaching industry before New Year resolutions period, my website crushed for a week - when I need it the most (The Murphy's Law :-)). I endured the frustration (at some moments even desperation, ha ha), and I still scaled my income that month earning more in one month than I used to earn in one year before, and I got a complete website make over (which you could enjoy since!). My first ever motivational speech workshop in 2017. in Rotterdam in Netherlands with my mentor life coach was another new thing I needed to face - public speaking in English! I did a lot of translating work prior, danced in front of 9000 people, spoke in front of huge crowd in my birth country several times, but still... this was the first time that I was the "expert" speaker talking in English! Publishing my first YouTube video was also scary and soooo uncomfortable, as although I was studying journalism, I loved writing and creating content behind the screen - be it radio, photography, or writing... but, I was always running away from the camera. :-)) Who would know that I would later on become a "famous blogger" being invited for TV interviews often, and even be posting my videos on YouTube! :-)) I guess it is true that from some things in life one cannot escape. :-))
The life lesson on success I've learned is that no matter how successful we already are and what all we have mastered, learned, done... every time we need to level up, try something new, achieve something greater... we will feel the fear of the unknown and the feeling will be uncomfortable. our ego will will pop up once more inducing self doubting thoughts while our intuition will be pulling us with the excitement in our gut to do it anyway! courage is not the absence of fear, but feeling the fear and doing it - anyway!
"OVERNIGHT SUCCESS" COMES AFTER MANY NIGHTS (AND DAYS) OF PREPARATION
"It took me 17 years and 114 days to become an overnight success!" - said Lionel Messi. :-)) It is pretty much how "overnight success" happens. It took me 2 years to become "overnight famous" in my region as a blogger and writer and then another two and half years... to become successful internationally as a life coach. Every single blog post that I published, every single article I wrote... lead me to becoming "the most famous blogger" two years later. In the beginning there were only about 100 people following me on on Facebook (including my friends and family members who were not vegetarians :-)). I started as unknown blogger and new - unknown writer. Every single blog post, recipe, article... I have created from September 2011. to October 2013. lead to me becoming "suddenly" famous blogger. It was thanks to 100+ articles on the topic and plenty of recipes on my blog that "suddenly" so many interview requests, opportunities, fans... started showing up. It was two years of my dedication to writing articles that lead the editorial team to offer me the honorary later on. In the region where I'm coming from, with such high unemployment rate, it is difficult to get a "normal" job, not to mention making a living from blogging and writing! Even so, it was two years of my passion, devotion, commitment, desire to help others, hard work... that had paid of. I have learned that no matter how difficult situation in the country may be or how many obstacles may be there, the easiest and unfortunately the most common thing to say that "it is impossible" and do nothing - that is the mindset of a person who is only complaining and daydreaming.
The mindset of successful people is different - it is about showing up, committing to it, working on it, finding the way, making it happen, having the patience to wait even if there are no "results" or material gratification at first or longer than expected, believing in ourselves, picking ourselves up after failure and rejection, and learning the lesson from it! if something is our passion, and we have a strong "why" and bigger picture and impact in our mind, no matter how hard it is and how scary it feels, even if all the world is against us - we do it anyway - because we love it, like it, want it, adore it, dream it, believe in it!!
In both of my career journeys every single thing that I have learned and all the hard work done over the years has helped me to succeed! I have learned an important lesson that knowledge is never wasted and all skills are precious! Think of Steve Jobs for example - he learned calligraphy as a hobby and later on introduced beautiful fonts for writing documents on computer! Although I dropped out of Medical college, I have used the knowledge gained during the seven years of Medical education about nutrition and healthy living in my articles - as a freelance writer abundantly, and since I became a life coach I am using the knowledge of Psychology and Psychotherapy abundantly in my life coaching work! I would not have been nearly as good of a writer or life coach today without those 7 years of medical education. What I have learned about writing, creating content for media, and PR has helped me so much in building my personal brand and getting amazing media features as a life coach! Not to mention how much the spiritual wisdom learned over the years has helped me to heal, recover, motivate and help other people with my life coaching work. Every single thing that I have done, learned, created... in in my entire life has lead me to a place where I am today. Interestingly - some of the life coaching clients who are/were working/ed with me have actually "discovered" me while reading my vegetarian articles, written six or seven years ago. :-))
YOUR KNOWLEDGE AND YOUR SKILLS ARE YOUR GREATEST WEAPON ON YOUR JOURNEY TO SUCCESS! IT IS WHAT MAKES YOU UNIQUE!
SUCCESS IN LIFE ADDS UP WITH EVERY SINGLE THING THAT YOU LEARN, MASTER, DO, PERFORM, DECIDE, AND ACHIEVE!
photo gallery - 2017: the year of miracles and "sudden" success :-))
YEAR OF MIRACLES - ZEN LESSON ON WATERING THE BAMBOO
I love the metaphor on success and our dream coming true being like a Chinese bamboo tree: like any plant, it requires care, water, fertile soil, and sunshine to grow. In the first four years, there are no visible signs of growth, but then in the fifth year Chinese Bamboo Tree grows 80 feet (about 25 meters) in just six weeks! In the beginning, it is usually the hardest as we need to invest a lot of energy, time, money... into something that is not (yet) showing visible results. Depending on the goal, sometimes it may take years of consistent investment of our time, energy, and money into our dream, without seeing the visible results. During those times, we have to have a strong belief that our patience and work and effort will be rewarded and wait until the right moment for sudden growth and success comes (I like to call it the tipping point). Then, "out of a sudden" our dream becomes true and we see the progress beyond our wildest dreams. Unfortunately, many people lose the strength of their beliefs, and because they did not see the results in the first year itself, they trow in the towel, give up of their goal, and stop watering the bamboo plant before it even had a chance to start growing! So, take a lesson on this and if there is an area of your life where it feels that "nothing is happening" even while you are trying hard and working hard for a long time, do not worry, and instead have faith and belief that it will happen when the right time comes. And when it does happen, it will happen greatly, beyond your wildest dreams! You only need to keep up the positive mindset and hope, and keep on "watering" your goal or your dream with love, devotion, and patience.
It took two years of watering my "vegetarian bamboo" and later two and half years of watering my "life coaching bamboo" for year 2017. to unfold in miraculous way for me the way it did. My income scaled exponentially, I could spend six month traveling while working as a digital nomad and visit along with my home country, Himalaya mountains, Dubai, and Netherlands in the period of blooming tulips, enjoyed working on my laptop on the beach in Croatia. I gave my first motivational speech in Rotterdam, and at the end of the year I started giving workshops and in Delhi in India. You can read more about how miraculous this year was for me in my previous blog post - Law Of Attraction - From Vision Board To Reality. It is amazing that once the bamboo start growing it grows so rapidly! In 2018. I have worked with most amazing life coaching clients, gave amazing online group life coaching program, self empowerment, and Emotional Intelligence workshops in Fortune 500 companies, and schools in Delhi with my colleague Lata, did motivational speeches in Delhi and Haryana, and became a Master Life Coach - mentoring newly certified coaches in MEQ Academy in Delhi. I have spent three months traveling while working on my laptop, gave Vedic Astrology workshop in Rotterdam, had the dream vacation in Positano - Amalfi Coast in Italy, and again had the blessing of working with a beach view. You can read more about it in my previous blog post - Year In Review - How My Life Changed In 2018.
IT ALL STARTS WITH A DECISION TO FOLLOW YOUR PASSION AND MAKE AN IMPACT
Looking back, everything started for me with the decision to create a vegetarian page and blog to help other people who were struggling, and later with decision to follow my passion for spirituality and self development - and help others to live happier life, so that I can help people who are feeling unhappy and stuck in life, just like I was ten years ago. Always remember that you may be one decision away from a different life!
why Having a mentor is so important?
I realised over the years how much valuable it is to have mentor, some to guide you and help you to overcome challenges and beginner's mistakes. Having Vanja Beukelman Pavlovic as my mentor coach has helped me immensely and she has been such a great support to me. I will forever be grateful to her. I am also deeply grateful to guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and all the spiritual teachers I came across and learned from out of India for last ten years. I feel really blessed that I could afford last year and this year coaching programs and trainings by some of the most amazing coaches that I admire the most. While going after our dreams, we may face many people who will try to talk us out, discourage us, pamper us with false praise or put us down with criticism while laughing at us. I have experienced it many times in last ten years. First people laugh at you, call you a "fool, and tell you you will never make it, and then when one day you succeed they call you "lucky" and tell you they always believed(?!?) in you. Sad truth. Having a mentor and a coach is therefor even more important, as we can have someone to give us objective unbiassed feedback and advice, encourage us when we feel self doubt, and help us keep up the motivation, while at the same time giving us the strategy which can help us succeed much faster in achieving our goals than if we were doing it all on our own.
Having someone who has been at the place where you are, who has overcome the obstacles you are facing, who has learned on their own mistakes and can help you avoid them yourself, guide you, encourage you, motivate you, give you a wake-up call, help you to get out of your head and realise why you are stuck and what is your true potential... is priceless! It saves a lot of time in learning which would be wasted, lot of frustration of making mistakes and going over rejection and failure, and lot of money spent on making the wrong choices in the long term.
success without fulfilment is worse than failure!
I have had many super successful women who are earning big money, holding C-level manager positions, running successful business, or even working while traveling (to Bali or Sri Lanka and other dreamy destinations) but they were feeling unhappy and unfulfilled!!! I have had women in late 30s, 40s, and even early 50s who signed up for a life coaching program with me to help them make a career transition, as they were feeling miserable, stressed, or unfulfilled with their job, even while earning a lot of money and being very successful. I can say now after working with so many of them that it is much easier to make the career transition in 20s than 30s, in 30s than 40s, in 40s than 50s... but it also never "too late" as my clients have had multiple success stories. I am not preaching here being unreasonable and leaving the secure pay check and being broke and homeless in order to pursue our passion - I am preaching pursuing the passion in any way possible, even as a hobby, as that is what makes one truly fulfilled within and there is no amount of money which can buy that feeling or success that can compensate it.
No matter what we have achieved or how much money we are making it is very important to stay grounded.
Having a strong spiritual anchor over the years has helped me very much to stay grounded in the times of struggle, when I was working hard and earning nothing or very less, and in times of success and abundance. I came to India for one month holiday and then stayed to live here without prior plan. I had brought nothing with me except my passport, few sweaters, and cosmetic bag. I did not even carry my laptop which was my tool to work. I realised that time that everything material can be bought again - laptop, clothes, books, possessions... expect the things with sentimental values, like for example locket given to me by my sister and other things that were holding memories. I also realised that even though I had brought nothing with me, I could still feel happy, and that none of the material possessions I missed as much as my mom and sister and my best friends. Many things had changed in my life in last ten years and I have evolved and transformed into an entirely new person, but in my core it seems to me that I have remained the same.
I had a desire for helping people my entire life. I was passionate about blogging, writing, spirituality... back then and I was doing it with same level commitment, devotion, and dedication when I was earning very little and nowadays as well. Only today I can enjoy it more as there is no so much pressure and there is much more free time that I can devote to myself and to my new passion - Vedic Astrology and I can travel much more. I am still in love with spirituality, only now I am learning about the esoteric and occult side of it trough Vedic Astrology. I am reading very passionately nowadays Vedas and Mahabharata just like I used to read books of Echart Tolle and other spiritual teachers and gurus ten years ago. I love to travel to dreamy destinations, but even the views of Dubai, Abruzzo, Positano, and Amalfi, tulip fields in Netherlands... could not compare to the bliss felt while standing on the sacred ground of ancient Athene, Hera, and Zeus temple ruins in Paestum in Italy, or reading the boards with the messages of Dalai Lama in front of the Buddhist monastery visited on Himalayas. I love vegetarian food - I'm a big foodie, and although I can afford now to dine in five star hotels and finest restaurants and cafes in Delhi, the joy of having prasad (sacred food given in temple) is incomparable to me. I feel blessed and lucky to be able to do the work that sets my soul on fire, but even if I would not be able to make a living out if it, I would still be doing it in some way, shape, or form - because it makes me happy.
Money can be earned, but time wasted in misery can never be taken back. WE HAVE LIMITED TIME ON THIS EARTH PLANE. More mature and wise I am becoming and more clients I am coaching... I am realising that the true success in life is measured by the amount of fulfilment that we feel in life and the impact that we make in the world.
Since 2011. to today my vegetarian Facebook community grew to 15 299 people, and my vegetarian blog posts and self-help magazine articles had 2 555 296 views. There are around 500 articles of mine written and published in both my native language and English. I publish every month a post or even two on this blog in English with the same desire to help as while I was posting vegetarian recipes back then years ago. Right now I can display these statistics, but back then in 2011. I started out with less than 100. It was not until 2013. and 2014. that bigger numbers like 1000 or 10 000 started "showing up". Similarly, when we've just launched the online magazine in 2013., we had very "small" number of clicks per article and audience in the beginning, while today we are having following of 10 748 and 7 figure view-ship. I am sharing this because in today's world numbers on social media and statistics are so much "important", that our ego can interfere and tell us that what we are doing is not enough, our contribution is too small and our work is not valuable and even we are not valuable if we do not have tens of thousands of followers, clicks, or people to influence. Isn't helping even one person still valuable? We often underestimate what we can do in five years or even ten years ahead, and allow our ego to tell us we are not good enough while we are not seeing our bamboo growing in the first few months or years of it's existence. Whenever I receive an e-mail that my article has helped them to overcome depression, quit toxic relationships, change their life, boost their confidence, go after their dream job, restore their hope and zest for life... and see the glow of happiness in eyes and big smile on my client's faces once we are done in with the life coaching program is the most fulfilling "recognition" to me. Seeing my life coaching clients doing such great work in the world, and transforming their life makes me feel so happy and blessed that I can do the work that I am doing and makes all the hard work and challenges limitations faced over the years worth it. It kind of feels the same like back in Medical high school when I used to take care of an injured or ill patient at the hospital, and afterwards I'd see them healthy, alive, walking on their own or being able to move their hand, smiling...
When we can use our gifts, talents, and passion to contribute to better tomorrow, positive change in the world, and helping others, that's when we can feel most lit up within and evolve as human beings.
client testimonial: "DANIJELA HELPED ME TO CHANGE MY LIFE AND ACHIEVE MY DREAM!"
Video testimonial by Angela Sudzukovic, sexual confidence and self love coach from Slovenia, founder of www.joni-jaja.com. If you want to achieve life transformation too, click on the button below to read about the life coaching program via Skype: