Woman Turns Weekend Passion Into Profit

Oct. 2, 2005 — -- Six years ago, Michele Sorensen, a Harvard MBA and mother of four, was a workaholic investment banker.

"I was getting worn out," she said. "As you get older, you don't have that same degree of energy that you have when you're 20 or 30. I was just really tired at the end of the day."

About to turn 50, Sorensen decided she needed more from her career and her life. So she left her job and turned to what she loved -- kayaking. Using her home as a base, she started her own kayak instruction and guide business.

Now, almost every day during the summer -- and to a lesser extent in the winter -- she takes a group of clients out off the Connecticut coast and shares her love of the sport.

Sorensen's business is profitable: She makes more than enough to live on while helping to put her last child through college. But she will never make the kind of paycheck she did in her old job.

Instead, her new career has provided something a big salary never could -- less stress, more freedom and a sense of fulfillment.

How to Do It Yourself

Laura Berman Fortgang, author of "Now What?: 90 Days to a New Life Direction," offered these tips for people interested in leaving their day jobs to pursue their passions:

Have a financial cushion. It's best to have at least a year's worth of money if you're considering making a radical change.

Do your research. Learn about the field you're looking to get into by talking to people who already are in it. Just because you love kayaking doesn't mean you'll love doing it day in and day out, or love having the responsibility of managing a kayaking business.

Moonlight, volunteer or sideline. Try out what you want to do before you completely quit your day job. That way, you can make sure that you love it enough to make the switch. You might find that doing it just a few hours a week meets your needs. When you're spending so many hours doing the new activity that it becomes too stressful to keep your day job, that's when you take the leap and quit your job in favor of your new profession.