This flexibility story comes from Jessica Thiefels. Jessica has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and spent the last five years in marketing. She’s now focused on growing her own startup and consulting for small businesses. She’s been featured on Forbes and has written for sites such as Lifehack, Inman, Manta, StartupNation and more. When she’s not working, she’s enjoying sunny San Diego with her husband and friends or traveling somewhere new. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.

With a little bit of fate, a little bit of organization and a lot of courage, I’ve been able to make my passion for personal training a priority, while paying bills and living a comfortable life. I’m sharing my story in hopes you’ll be able to do the same and truly live the life you love.

Some of It Was Luck

A lot transpired last spring that put me where I am today. I was working at and emotionally invested in an education startup. There were only 12 employees, all in our mid-late 20’s, and we became a close-knit family.

I had also become certified as a personal trainer. I wanted to integrate training into my life, but I couldn’t see how to make that happen. I remember thinking: How do I scale this? How do I take more clients but still work full time? I don’t have the luxury of not bringing in a steady income to pursue a passion that’s not exactly lucrative.

However, in April, the startup was cut off from funding and I was brought down to part-time, leaving a large gap in my income. Despite knowing I’d have more flexibility with time, my pay was now 1/3 of what it was originally, and having more time doesn’t matter all that much when I can’t pay my bills. I knew that I couldn’t support myself even with additional income from personal training, which I was just beginning to build.

I started applying for new jobs, and I realized that I could build a new future for myself if I found the right fit. With that in mind, I looked for a remote, project-based position at a salary that would ensure I could pay my bills. After a just few rocky weeks, I couldn’t believe my luck: I interviewed with a company that had found my resume on Indeed, and within two days I had the job. Not only is this job remote, but we work on a project basis, so I put in as many hours as is necessary to get the work done—which is usually around 30 hours a week.

With this freedom in my schedule, I was suddenly able to take clients at any time of day, any day of the week. I wasn’t confined to the four walls of an office or “9 to 5” mindset. Not to mention, I was now financially stable.

Some of It’s Been Organizational

Plus, I didn’t stop there: three months later I also took on an additional job at a local gym. But with so many balls in the air, I realized I needed more organization to make sure nothing got dropped.

I’ve always been a very organized person. I love to-do lists. But juggling my remote job, personal training, and the freelance work I’ve always done as well, required a deeper level of planning.

The winning strategy for me ended up being a “boxing” method, in which each day is carefully structured ahead of time. So for example, my “boxing” might look like this:

Monday:
Freelance client A – 1 hour
Remote project-based job – 3 hours
Personal training – 3 hours

Tuesday:
Freelance client B – 2 hours
Group class at gym – 1 hour
Remote project-based job – 6 hours

Between all of my jobs, I usually end up working about 45 to 50 hours weekly. While my schedule involves various components, it stays roughly the same week over week, which helps me stay organized so I can do my best work whether I’m training, writing or consulting.

A Lot of It Was Courage

I recently read that fear of failure is the number one fear among Americans. That statistic struck a chord for me because this fear plays a large part in how we allow ourselves to evolve into and seek out our passions. I was afraid of not having a steady income, of not being good at personal training, of not being worthy of clients’ money.

In the end, I took a leap of faith. I pushed through the fears, allowed myself to take an opportunity that would allow me to focus on fitness, and found a way to do what I love and live comfortably.

While it doesn’t happen like this for everyone, I do believe that we write our own story. Knowing what you want is one thing, but figuring out how to get it is another. Think about your ideal world—what does that look like? Now take out a pen and paper: What does it take to get there? It may not happen overnight, but with strategy and ingenuity, it is possible to combine passion with practicality.

photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com