do-what-you-love

Do What You Love as a Career

by Cris Merz:

The first steps in dropping it all to become a dive professional.

One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching. – Unknown

You love to scuba dive and now you want to incorporate it into your life – your professional life.  You want to start anew, at one of those mesmerizing destinations you see on TV reality shows like “Survivor”.  You want to live there, fall in love there, relax there, and work there.  You want to wake up in the morning and take people diving, watch their eyes light up as they see the amazing underwater world that very few have experienced in real life. You want to end the day under a palm tree with your friends, drinking a local rum punch out of a coconut with a slab of fruit on the side.

“Do what you love.”  We have heard it in school when parents or teachers talked to us about our future careers; we see it on motivational memes and posters, and hear it as a cliché when giving/receiving advice from friends that are starting “fresh” – be it by choice or circumstance.

There are people on Planet Earth that absolutely love what they do, but not everyone has found a way to be successful at it while pulling in a nice income.  Before you decide to change you career path, I strongly suggest you consider a few things.

Ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?”

Do some serious soul searching.  Will this make you happier?  Will life become more beautiful?  Will your joy become contagious?  Will you like this version of yourself more? Will you enjoy what you do more?

Commit time to make it happen and formulate a plan.

Before selling your guitar collection, giving your dog to your parents, and breaking your lease – GET A PLAN!!!  Do research.  Are you comfortable going halfway around the world or do you prefer to start somewhere a little closer to home just in case?  Are you required to get a work visa or permit?  How long will it last?  Do you know what you’ll get paid and your cost of living and other expenses?  And more importantly, will you be able to grow as a professional?  Ask yourself, “If I am a Dive Master, can I become an Instructor there, or nearby?  If I am an Instructor, can I become an Instructor Trainer?  Can I be upgraded from Crew to boat Captain and how long does this take?  What does it entail and will it come out of my pocket?”

These questions need to be asked before making the jump.

Be patient – Nothing happens overnight.

Everyone loves being spontaneous.  It adds an element of romanticism to our lives that usually is hidden under the clutter of 9-5 hours, traffic jams, and horrible coffee at the work place.   “Oh, I just got sick of the day-to-day hustle, packed up my things and moved to the Caribbean.”  Great – don’t do that.  It may work for a few, but don’t do that.  The time you are investing in researching your direction and your future path is well worth doing.  Take this time to create a strict budget and stick with it.  Plan on the things you can live without and start implementing them into your current lifestyle – it will make your transition a lot smoother. This is not a waste of time.

Don’t wait.

“Whoa!!! You just said…”  I know what I said.  There is a difference between taking the time to strategize your future career and just sitting around waiting for signs from the heavens to make your mind up for you.  If you really want to do this and move to that wonderful location with white sand, blue waters, and a laid back atmosphere then do it and start focusing on the planning stage.  Once the planning stage is complete and you have all (most) of your answers, make your mind up based on the results of your investigation.  Ask yourself, is this REALLY for me?  If the answer is yes – DO IT!!!

Get as much training in before you make the jump.

Don’t waste your time as you wait for answers or responses or job offers.  Take courses that will be useful to you and make you a more valuable asset to your employer.  Take specialty courses that may assist you like a Visual Inspection Program, O2 Service Tech, Underwater Photography, or Marine Eco Awareness.  Look into boating and seamanship safety courses that you could take online.  Always try to improve what you bring to the table at your job.  If this is something you want to do for the rest of your life, be sure you have the skills and attitude needed to be an in-demand asset in any resort that you are seeking employment.  If you can take the SDI Open Water Instructor Course prior to heading out, I would strongly suggest you look at your options and see if it is possible to do it before even continuing anything else.

A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams. – John Barrymore

Find mentors.

For many, it is easy to find friends and acquaintances.  People that are fun to hang out with and keep you company when you miss home.  But don’t leave it at that. Friends are great, but if you really want to improve your value as an asset in any business, find a mentor that wants to share information.  Find the people who have accomplished what you want to accomplish.  Find professionals that have succeeded living the dream that you are seeking. Mentors are people that thrive on other people’s success.  Mentors are people that want to be part of their student’s growth.  Once you find them, pick their brain and ask questions.  Ask if you can co-teach their courses, listen to their stories and their advice – and then apply it as it may pertain to your situation.  Even when you feel you can no longer learn anything else from them; network with them and share business practices. You have no idea how valuable these people can be in your life. And don’t forget to give back to them, thank them for sharing their valuable, hard earned knowledge with you.

Have a “Plan B”.

Just because you love to scuba dive and want to make a career out of it doesn’t mean it is going to be profitable.  You may find after 6 months that your lifestyle requires more income.  You aren’t happy with just the view from a hammock anymore.  If you do not have wealthy folks to bail you out, a rich partner in your life that supports you, or mega savings in your bank,  be prepared to execute your back up plan; it may be going to another venture or destination, a simple change of pace, or going back to work in the “real” world.   Most importantly, before you leave; don’t burn any bridges!  Make sure your exit from your previous job was smooth and professional.  You may need your former boss to write some recommendations.

Pursuing your passion doesn’t always mean you will be working your dream job.  You will be the “new guy” (or girl).  You will have to work hard, earn promotions, earn better pay and earn the trust of the employers.  Before you get there, expect to do the grunt work; carry tanks, teach the Scuba Discover Programs, wash the boat and rinse the rentals.  You may have been the regional branch manager of your bank or the foreman of a job site but today you get to start your dream, day one, from the beginning.   Enjoy the road to success and treat it as work, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

If it starts out harder than you thought and with less perks, then remember why you did this to begin with and try to figure out what it will take to get you to your destination.  More money?  Better hours?  More advanced courses to teach?  Happiness?  Less stress?  Go back to the “why” and you should be able to figure it out.  Best of luck.

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. – C. S. Lewis

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