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Defining The Relationship Between What You Love And What Makes You Money

Caroline ZookCaroline Zook Caroline ZookCaroline Zook

Written by

Caroline Zook

Defining The Relationship Between What You Love And What Makes You Money

Two big things have been on my mind this week that I want to chat with you about today: LOVE and MONEY.

Jason and I had our first Transparent Talk all about money last Tuesday and it was so much fun! (ps. Thanks for all the positive feedback on the workshop. We can’t wait to host the next one on March 8th!) We chatted about debt, income, profitability, budgeting, and loads of more fun financial stuff.

With all of that still fresh in my head, then in came the loooooove. First, on Thursday, with the launch of the Art Shop and then yesterday with Valentine’s Day.

I can honestly say that finally putting my Abstract Affirmations up for sale was unlike any other feeling I’ve had in my “career” (yes, I’m using quotation marks on that one. What is a career anyway?!)

I felt so supported, so encouraged, and so VIBRANT having finally created an opportunity to send out a piece of my heart into the homes of fellow soulful creatives.

And so when it came time to sit down and write today’s email, my topic ideas bounced back and forth between these two topics: love and money.

At first it seemed like they were on two completely ends of the spectrum. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized the interesting relationship these two have between them, especially when it comes to soulful creative entrepreneurship.

And ultimately this is the question that came up for me: Is it actually possible to make your entire living doing only things that you love? Is it possible to marry these two harmoniously?

As I considered this, it occurred to me that the relationship between what you do for money and what you do because you love it falls into three buckets…

Bucket 1:



You do some things for money and you do other things for love, but there’s no overlap. This might mean you have a steady job that you don’t particularly love but it provides you with the financial fuel you need to continue doing what you love on the side as a hobby.

Bucket 2:



You do some things for money and other things for love, and at times those things overlap and are one in the same but not always. This might mean you have a side business where you’re making some gravy money or this could mean you have your own business and need to take clients or do work that isn’t ideal, but it pays the bills until you can get the business off the ground.

Bucket 3:



Let me just say before we go any further: I believe all three of these are valid choices and can bring you happiness and contentment. The trick is determining which mix matches up with your values best.

If you value stability and financial peace of mind, you might find great satisfaction in Bucket #1 where you don’t have to put pressure on the things you love to do to support you.

In her awesome book, Big Magic (aff link), Liz Gilbert describes how she didn’t quit her day job until her fourth book (and, by the way, that fourth book was the mega-international-best-seller, Eat Pray Love).

She writes, “I held on to those other sources of income for so long because I never wanted to burden my writing with the responsibility of paying for my life. I knew better than to ask this of my writing, because, over the years, I have watched so many other people murder their creativity by demanding that their art pay the bills… And when their creativity fails them (meaning: doesn’t pay the rent) they descend into resentment, anxiety, or even bankruptcy. Worst of all, they often quit creating at all.”

There is certainly an allure to keeping your heart’s work “finance-free” and there may be some of you out there who have been fighting this bucket due to the rise in the “Love What You Do” movement, when in fact this bucket could lead you to the healthiest, happiest symbiotic relationship between love and money possible. If that is the case, I hope you’ll consider Liz’s words and give yourself permission to own this dynamic.

Now, for me personally, I found there to be too much dissonance in my life when I was making money doing something I did NOT love (working in the advertising industry.) Having a stable job did not leave me with a peace of mind that was fueled by creativity; instead it drained it. Bucket #1 was not for me, and that’s okay too.


That’s when I boldly set out for Bucket #3. I wanted to design a life for myself where I was able to wake up every day and make a living from the things I love doing. That included making art, solving problems, learning new things and then teaching them to others, helping people reveal their true selves, writing, and opening up my heart.

Let me just tell you though, not all of the things I just listed are money-making machines right out of the gate. In fact, many of them are decidedly NOT.

I had to be okay with settling into Bucket #2 for a while where I was able to enjoy some parts of my business but where I had to endure others.

For example, I would definitely put my year-long stint doing client design work into this category. There were parts of that process I deeply enjoyed but on the whole it was not what I loved to do. Still, I knew that I didn’t have a big enough audience at the time to make and sell products (what I did love) so I strategically went after design projects to buy myself time so that I could make enough money to keep working toward Bucket #3.

Slowly over time I was able to let go of the parts of my business I didn’t love and trade them out for the things I really did. Eventually that process has led me to a place where I can whole-heartedly say I love every part of my job and I’ve managed to find a way to turn what I love into something that makes money.

But what I want you to take away from my experience though is this:

The journey from Bucket #1 to Bucket #3 does not happen overnight.

It took me YEARS to get here. But it is possible.

You just have to be willing to sit tight in Bucket #2 and give yourself permission to find the balance in that middle space: to perhaps take on projects that make you money but that you don’t love; or vise-versa, to spend some time on things you love that don’t bring you money.

As long as you keep your intentions towards that Bucket #3, consistently evaluating your projects based on which circle they fall into and always aiming for that sweet spot between the two, then I promise you will get there.

Ultimately, the point is that you get to choose what relationship you want between the things you love and the things that bring you money. It’s up to you.

Your challenge this week is to identify which bucket you’re in now and which one you think you’d like to aspire to.

And if you find yourself in Bucket #2 wishing you were in Bucket #3, write down a list of things you can do to get there — which things you’re doing now for money, not love, that you hope to let go of in the future, as well as things you love that don’t bring you any money that you want to do more of in the future.

Is it actually possible to make your entire living doing only things that you love?

Yes, I now know that it is because I get to live that reality every day. But that doesn’t mean it has to be your goal too.

Find the Love/Money bucket that leaves you feeling like the brightest version of you and make peace with it.

Defining The Relationship Between What You Love And What Makes You Money

(Big Fat Takeaway)


This article written by

Caroline Zook

She/Her | Artist, designer + writer passionate about helping soulful creatives grow into their brightest selves. Lover of bright colors + even brighter people! One half of the crazy duo running these parts!

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