How To Leverage Your Day Job To Build Your Dreams

J.R. Heimbigner

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Most creatives start here: With a day job and working on their creative life on the side. We have a 9–5 or some other job which supports our families and pays the bills. And then in the margins, we write, paint, and create.

Almost all of us start here.

Others of us live within this reality by choice. We appreciate our day jobs and don’t intend to change the situation. However, we need to learn to see our day job as a patron of our creativity.

“I could be writing right now,” I think to myself.

This is a common part of my day. Whether I am working from home in my den or sitting in my cubicle at work, I start to lose motivation and become resentful of my day job.

I yearn for the days where I write and create. Instead, my creativity happens in the early mornings, sometimes at lunch, and at rarely any other time.

And yet, I know my work matters. It has a purpose. It is a means to the ultimate goal of seeing my side hustle become my day job. Because after all, I don’t want my writing to be a side hustle forever, I want to grow it into my day job.

But, what do we do with our day job in the meantime?

Leveraging Your Day Job

“Your job isn’t the problem…you are.” — Ayodeji Awosika

First, we need to relearn every day how we need to have the right mindset about our day job. We cannot fall into the depths of despair or become resentful of the very thing which gives us the freedom to create.

We must have the right motivation. Our day job is a patron. Just like the noble families of old during the Renaissance. They funded the artists' ability to be an artist.

Second, we need to remember our work does matter. It doesn’t only pay the bills, it also provides us with stories we will write about. It gives us interactions on a daily basis to help us learn life lessons that we can share with others.

If I didn’t work at my day job, I wouldn’t have been forced to learn all that I have about productivity.

Third, we can even use our side hustle to influence our work. Sometimes, there is someone at your day job who thinks your side hustle is so amazing, they want to encourage you to apply it more to your day job.

They may even champion your work to other employees and to management. This helps increase your audience. And it can actually speed up the move from side hustle to your new day job for your creativity.

We need to remember, our day jobs matter. They are useful. And it is important to make the most of them. There are many creatives who have seen this to be true.

“The work you do matters and sometimes we forget that.” — Jon Acuff

Don’t Quit Your Day Job, Yet

“Perhaps you can’t quit your day job, and I understand that. But never, ever quit your daydream.” — Chip Gaines

Many of us just want to quit our day jobs. We want it to be out of the way so we can pursue the work we love and enjoy. I get it. Trust me, there are days when I think about how great it will be to do creative work all day. And yet, I still have a long ways to go. Most of us have a lot of work to do.

We cannot quit our jobs too early to pursue our art. Dale Partridge says this about quitting our day jobs when starting a startup, it is the same principle:

“More often than not, aspiring entrepreneurs ditch their job too early. In my experience, people should view their career as the boat to carry them safely to their startup. If that boat sinks too early, you might drown. If that boat crashes into the dock, your startup might fall apart.”

As you can see, we cannot quit too early. We must endure. And we must prepare ourselves to make the jump from the day job to our new day job, our creative work.

Grow Your Side Hustle

We need to take the right steps to grow our side hustle into a day job or a business. And we do this on the fringes. The early mornings, lunch hours, nights, and weekends. And we can do this well. But it will take a lot of work. And we will need to invest in ourselves and invest our time.

It will be worth it. And it all starts with us, as Anthony Moore says,

“…if you want big change, you need to make big changes. It starts with you, and how committed you’re willing to be.”

Do you want to see your side hustle grow into your day job, then start taking the steps to do it? Stop resenting work or daydreaming about the day you don’t have to do your job. Take advantage of the margin, invest in yourself and your creativity, and make something happen.

How do I know?

Because this is what I am faced with every day I wake up. At every lunch hour. And every spare moment.

Am I going to commit and make the changes to leverage my day job?

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