For some reason there is this weird shame associated with living your dream as well as working a day job. Or even a stigma that you have not actually succeeded at your dream unless its pursuit is what fully sustains you; both internally and financially.
A few weeks back, I was in the midst of a conversation with a young person who works a part time job. They are hoping to pursue a modeling/acting career. When I asked what they were currently doing to pursue their passion in the industry, with a dash of bitterness, they replied, “Well, I try to do photoshoots and work on my Youtube Channel, but I am always stuck at my day job.”
This person works 20 hours a week at their day job. It’s their only job and they don’t go to school.
I’m not sure if you’ve ever done the Math, but we have 168 hours a week. Every one of us. The same.
Since you may not all be walking zombies and need some sleep, that leaves us with 112.
Let’s subtract the 20 hours my friend works; that leaves them with approximately 92 hours. Which averages out to 13 hours a day to do whatever one’s heart desires.
I work between 45-50 hours a week. But my day job is not the thing I blame if I am not where I want to be with my life goals.
The first place we need to begin when it comes to pursuing our life’s passions without quitting our day job, is learn to be grateful for our day jobs.
**insert record screech sound here.**
Wait, what? Yes. I said it.
Let me explain.
Without them, we may not have the means necessary to pursue whatever it is that we want to pursue, while not making ANY money initially. Realistically, most entrepreneurial endeavors actually require a heavy level of financial investment of time and energy in the beginning stages.
When I was in a band, I needed a ton of musical equipment. It was NOT cheap. Matter of fact, by the time I was all said and done with my music career, I had racked up $10K in debt.
I often had multiple jobs. They definitely weren’t “career” type jobs. I merely needed a means to sustain my living and ensure my bills were paid. They were never an excuses as to why I wasn’t pursuing my life’s passions. It’s our choice/fault if we have chosen a job and allowed it to be a “ball and chain” when it comes to our free time and how we spend it. We all have bills to pay, and will need some financial resources. Thank the Lord for the opportunity to serve and bus tables to make my car payment, pay my cell phone bill and put gas in my car while in college. Seriously. Grateful.
After finding a place of gratitude for a means to sustain your existence; the next step is managing your time. The young person I mentioned earlier, who has an average of 13 hours of free time a day, there are plenty of people who accomplish far more with less. How? Learning to manage their time.
Time management is no joke. It is one of the single most valuable lessons one can learn to be productive and take action in the pursuit of their passions.
I often look back on that season when I was in band and ask myself, “How the heck did I do it?” I worked a full time job, went to school full time and also traveled nearly every weekend to do shows. The truth, I didn’t give myself any other options. My employer at the time was willing to work with me and allowed me to work 4 ten hour days a week. I would arrive to work at 7AM and leave by 5PM, go to my evening classes 3 nights a week, have band practice on the other 2 nights a week and travel on the weekends. Often pulling all-nighters to drive back in to town to be back to work on Monday morning.
There was no other option. We’ve all heard the term, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
If you want it, you will find a way. If you have no idea where to begin when it comes to time management; here are a few ideas.
Have a calendar. I’m serious. Whether it be a physical planner, or a digital one, document and plan your life. Some of you may already do this. Others, this may seem absolutely foreign. You can’t say you have aspirations yet have no plans. Decide small steps of what needs to be accomplished and then block yourself out to do it. Dedicate specific days and times to do it, if needed. Establish habits or a routine. You don’t need to be absolutely rigid, but you do need to protect your time. You need to assign it the weight that it deserves to have priority in your life. Some have the luxury of having set schedules at their days jobs, that makes it much easier. Maybe Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays are “content creation days” and Tuesday and Thursdays are “Marketing days” or maybe you have “research days.” Whatever your needs are, assign them. If you’re like me and you don’t have a set schedule, but need to set aside time to write or record videos and inspirational reels, look ahead at your week. What are your days off, assign them in your planner and map out what your week will look like. Maybe you’re like me and work evening shifts a lot; wake up early, get your personal goals tackled before heading in to your day job. I have incredible days at my day job when I feel accomplished with my personal goals. I am happier and perform better.
So begin planning your time. You can not blame anybody but yourself for not spending it wisely. There are far too many busy people out there who prove that big goals can be accomplished with intentional planning. We have no excuse. Establish self-discipline now, it will only benefit you in the long run.
In the next step of pursuing your dreams without quitting your day job, is make sure that it is a day job that is flexible to meet your needs …and also the businesses.
Our day in age, we always want to know, “What’s in it for me?” But let’s be real, businesses exist to make a profit. They want results. You will have to perform at some level. The part that you need a say in, is whether it works with your scheduling needs. Not every place does. This is something you need to know up front. Be candid with your needs and ask your employer to do the same. If they both can not be met, find something else. (You might be saying, “But Dominique, I thought this post was about NOT quitting your day job?” It is, but it’s important to have the right kind of day job. Remember how I had one that was able to let me work 4 tens? Not everyone can accommodate that. So we need to decide what our priorities are and whether we can make it work. If my needs potentially create a hardship on accommodating business needs at my job, I need to take ownership of that and find something that is more flexible.)
It is not your employers fault that they are asking you to work what you agreed to work when they offered you a job. You agreed to it. Being bitter down the road does nothing. If your needs and the business needs no longer fit; find something else. Do not waste your time. Do not waste your employers time. You need the time to pursue your passion and so do they.
One more thing when it comes to pursuing your dreams without quitting your day job. Something that we don’t keep in mind often enough, is that whether its in the field we are trying to break in to or not, our employer has done something right when it comes to running and sustaining a business. Are there things we can pick apart and assume that we might be able to do better within our own respective fields; sure. There always are. But we have an opportunity to work with others, ask questions, see what’s done right and opportunities to learn from. I have learned invaluable life lessons from past employers; such as the importance of working hard but having a fun time doing it. I’ve observed my friends taking away skills of how to talk to people and setting proper expectations, from their past jobs and then applying it to their own business interactions. And of course, the not-to-do;s. The things we have personally experienced that sucked and we can make a conscious effort of not doing those things within our own endeavors.
Day jobs are important. They keep us grounded, teach us lessons and sustain our living. There should be no shame in having them. Rather, we should be grateful for the lessons they have taught us and the needs they have helped us meet. Pursuing our personal endeavors with a posture of gratitude will then allow us to invest the right positive energy into it.
So, How has your day job helped you? What lessons have you learned from them? What are some of your best practices for managing your time well and with purpose? Feel free to share in the comments.