If your job sees you stuck in the office every day, pushing papers, and you dread coming in to work, then maybe it’s time to follow your passion. Pursue something you’re excited about. Yes, you may fail, but you might succeed.
Q: I’m currently working full-time in the government information technology sector. However, I’ve always felt that I needed to do something more, maybe get out there and start a business.I’ve always wanted to work with my hands and build things. I’m not interested in working a dreadful job in a cubicle for the rest of my life. What would you advise me to do? — Adrian Lucaci
I can sympathise with the situation you’re describing, Adrian. The idea of working in a cubicle strikes fear in my heart, and always has.
Luckily, I was so unsuited to schoolwork that it was obvious from an early age that I would never be a paper-pusher — it wouldn’t have been possible even if I had wanted to!
So many people get trapped in jobs they don’t care about, or even dislike. That’s just wrong.
We should feel excited about getting up and going to work every day; we should be able to pursue our passions. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
At Virgin we make sure that our employees take ownership in their work because, as I’ve pointed out before, an office full of motivated, happy employees is an office in which disruption, innovation, experimentation and progress will all happen.
That said, I know that doing what you love isn’t always easy — sometimes you have to take a job you don’t like in order to pay the bills.
Don’t let work that makes you unhappy define you or wear you down. If you can’t make your passion pay right now, the most important thing you can do is nurture your ideas and goals and begin to think about how you can make time for them.
If you’re passionate about entrepreneurship, you might start by pursuing your project on the side, on weekends. Develop different ideas and have fun.
There may be a transition period where you do both jobs. In our world of great fluidity, where traditional business models are being turned on their heads and we’re more connected than ever, we now have opportunities to tailor work around our lives, rather than the other way around.
Your offices might be very conservative, but consider that elsewhere, offices are changing: The cubicle is slowly disappearing, along with the strict demarcation between what you do to live, and what you live to do.
Open-plan offices are becoming commonplace, and co-working spaces like WeWork and Second Home are booming. Even better, many companies have become more accepting of flexible schedules and working from home. Taking a position where those options are available might help you to keep a paycheck coming in while you’re building up your own business.
And what if you get to the point where you decide to turn your daydream into your day job? As I always say: Screw it, just do it.
Yes, making such a change can be daunting, financially and personally, especially if you have dependents. And countless what-ifs might keep you up at night if you let them.
But in the end, when you pursue your passions, you face two possibilities. You might fail — and you need to be prepared for that. Or you may do very well, partly because you’re engaged and happy.
Starting a business has the potential to turn your life upside-down, and sticking with the safe path that you’re used to is much easier than giving your dreams a go. If you do fail, that can be a learning opportunity, which will help you make better choices on your next attempt.
I’ve failed big in the past, and I’m proud of it, because my team and I have always been able to pick ourselves back up and learn something new. As every successful entrepreneur knows, failure is integral to finding success.
So, Adrian, if Sunday night rolls around and you start to dread the idea of another week in your cubicle, it might be time to put your life on a different path.
You may have more options than you realise for making your dream a reality. The choice is yours.
As I have said before: You might fail... but you might succeed. Good luck! — Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate
Questions from readers will be answered in future columns. Please send them to Richard.Branson@nytimes.com. Please include your name, country, e-mail address and the name of the website or publication where you read the column.
Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson is founder of the Virgin Group. He became an entrepreneur at 16 and made his first million at the age of 25.