Imagine giving up a regular job, your home, friends, family and country to pursue your passion. It's an exciting option for some and daunting for others. When people are pursuing something they are passionate about their energy drive, determination and potential for success is infinite. They become like pieces of elastic, able to stretch to anything and accommodate any setback.

Passion gives people a reason for living and the confidence and drive to pursue their dreams. Living in the passion zone sounds simple, but most people don't. Reasons vary; some common ones include: being caught in the comfort rut, fear, lack of confidence and self-belief.

"I say we change through desperation or inspiration," says Nick Williams, a UK-based work philosopher and author of The Work You Were Born To Do.

"The idea that you could do something joyful, that you love, that you're happy doing and get paid for it is just not in most people's consciousness," says Williams.

For others, working with passion seems out of reach, with passion-filled jobs and opportunities far and few between. They settle into jobs they enjoy but still yearn for something more fulfilling.

So it was for Wellingtonian Zofia Miliszewska. After graduating from university she settled into a career as a statistical analyst, a job she enjoyed and held on to for two years. But while the money was good and the work interesting, her passion for art kept calling. She tried to break into the arts scene in New Zealand. Despite numerous attempts to find a creative role she soon realised she'd need to spread her wings and head further afield.

"In New Zealand the arts sector is very small and the people that work in it tend to keep hold of their jobs so there is not much opportunity to break into that sector. The UK is so much bigger that I thought there would be much more of a chance to get a job in the arts sector and fulfil my passion rather than just have a job to earn lots of money."

Pursuing your passion is not always easy. It often involves great sacrifice. For Zofia this meant leaving behind the security of a steady paycheck, a great salary, her much loved family and friends and a country she adored.

"I was lucky enough to get a very low-level job in one of the biggest auction houses in the world, Christies. For a long time I lived on virtually no money and sometimes struggled to pay the rent. But people there soon saw how passionate I was about art, and how willing I was to take whatever came along. I kept applying for jobs both inside and outside Christies because I really wanted to get some employment security. There were times when it as so tough - both financially and because of homesickness - but I vowed to give myself six months and if it didn't work out I'd give up my dream."

Luckily fate intervened and Zofia's CV came across the desk of the HR manager for a role she never applied for. They saw that she'd worked for Statistics NZ and offered her a role as a database analyst. From there she has worked her way up and is now the client information co-ordinator at Christies. She's responsible for a team who take care of the day-to-day maintenance of the client management system for all Christies' clients worldwide.

"The CEO of Christies started from humble beginnings too - he used to be a doorman," she says.

While still earning considerably less working in the arts sector and missing New Zealand Zofia says it's hard to put a price on her job satisfaction.

"The sacrifice was worth it. I have been able to see and experience so much more in the art world in London where there is more of it than in New Zealand. I have a job where I get to meet people I never imagined meeting and get up close to art and artifacts that you can't even get that close to in a museum! It also enabled me to discover more about myself and what career path I really wanted to pursue," she says.

A desire to grow their business fuelled Wellington restaurateurs Vivienne Hayman's and Ashley Sumners' move to London.

"We both felt we had gone as far as we could with our business in New Zealand and wanted to move further afield, "says Vivienne. "I came here for a three-month holiday, secretly wanting to stay longer and build a business overseas. On arriving I discovered that London seriously needed a restaurant like our Sugar Club in Wellington. There was nowhere in London doing anything like it. I called Ash and a year later he also moved to London after selling our Wellington restaurant."

They relocated the restaurant to Notting Hill in 1995, then to Soho in 1998, winning the Time Out "Best Modern British Restaurant" award in 1996 and "Best Central London Restaurant" award in 1999, along with several Evening Standard Eros awards.

Since then they have expanded and diversified their restaurant business, opening a chain of modern traiteurs (Italian-style delicatessens) which offer delicious, easy-to-prepare hand-made meals and great New Zealand coffee. The first of these is called The Grocer on Elgin, situated in the heart of Notting Hill. Vivienne designed all three restaurants and "The Grocer on" stores.

Like many people following their passion Vivienne and Ash faced significant barriers before finally making it big.

"It took Ash and I seven years to fulfil our dream of opening The Sugar Club in London. When we first arrived there were huge premiums being asked for restaurant sites. Then, with the early 90s recession, they were giving restaurants away but, like now, the banks were not lending. We had no property assets at the time, limited funds, a reference from our NZ lawyer, accountant and bank manager and a handful of NZ press clippings. The banks wanted property assets and UK business records. No less."

Just when it looked like the obstacles were insurmountable their passion for great food and design, the quality of the produce and the integrity of its production produced lucky fruit.

"We were offered a site by a landlord that we had had dealings with in the past. He liked what we did and gave us the lease. We developed the old Singapore Pandang into the Notting Hill Sugar Club. I borrowed an extra £5000 off my mum and paid her back in a month. It was an instant success and well worth the long wait."

Following their passion is an important ingredient in their success, says Vivienne.

"Passion is everything - if you don't have it you will not succeed. It is hard work; your passion will pull you through the seriously bad times, which will always occur."

Zofia agrees. Having a true passion for what you do makes all the difference. "Money's still tight and sometimes I miss my family so much I just want to go home, but then I pinch myself and say, 'Hey I'm living my dream! The other day Christies sold a Rembrandt for £18 million ($39 million), making it the fourth most expensive Old Master painting ever sold at auction. I was in the room that night they sold it and at the end of the sale we sold a beautiful drawing by Raphael for £29 million. This is the most expensive work on paper ever sold. It was amazing to bear witness to that event."

While these London-based Kiwis are living their life with passion, for many people the dream still seems out of reach or too scary to consider.

"If you are passionate about what you do and have the drive and determination to never give up, you should succeed," encourages Vivienne. "You need to have something unique, have enough funding, know your business and take the time to get to know London or where ever you choose to go."

"London was the best move. I had lived in Sydney but London is exciting, always challenging. Because of its population density, it provides endless opportunities. If you are doing something really special, the more people that know about it the better."

"Go for it!" Zofia says to other Kiwis contemplating a big move. "New Zealand's small size and isolation can limit opportunities. Being surrounded by so many opportunities and the international scene creates a desire to be part of it. Make sure you have some kind of plan and set yourself some targets, but otherwise just take the leap of faith and give it a go."

"Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion," philosopher G. W. F. Hegel once said. Passion is not always fun. Like anything worthwhile, pursuing your passion often involves great courage, commitment, hard work and sacrifice. People following their dreams are prepared to take risks, tackle new challenges and cope with setbacks to live a more passionate life. The compensation is a bigger, fuller, more interesting life.