You’ve got big dreams… but you’ve also got bills to pay. And while we love the thought of waking up one morning and saying, “That’s it! I’m done with the grind!”, we all know how life doesn’t stop expecting to be paid for. So how do you follow your passion without quitting your day job?
Most of us don’t have the luxury of doing what we love full-time, yet. We still have to clock in, do our jobs, and collect our paychecks to keep the lights on. So how does a goal-chaser go after her dreams in between the 9-5?
In order to follow your passion without quitting your day job:
1. Get Good at Time Management
You know you’ll be busy for awhile. Between work and general life management, you’ll have limits to the amount of time you can spend on your passion project. But you still want to get the most out of the time you DO have for it, and you need to be able to carve out that time in the first place.
That’s why I firmly believe everyone with a goal should be using a planner every day. Whichever one you choose is up to you – start by taking a look at what kind of planner layout works best for you.
If you’re juggling work, home, life management, and chasing your dreams all at the same time – I love the daily layout from Day Designer to help you keep track of it all.
If an academic year planner isn’t your thing, they also have an undated version with daily to-do lists, so you can start today with no wasted pages
Following your passion while still working a day job means you’ll be scheduling your own work in your off-hours, and that time can get away from us. When you write down your intentions for the day ahead of time, it’s a lot easier to stick to your plan. Which brings me to my next point:
2. Set Clear Intentions
How often do you go into your day with all the good intentions in the world, but by the time you go to bed you’ve accomplished very little?
If you wrote down every single task you’ve gotten done in the past week, are those proportional to where your priorities are?
Setting an intention for everything you do is a quick mental exercise that help you get as much out of your day as you feel like you’re putting in.
I’ll use this blog as an example: When I first started this as a side passion, many days I would sit down at my laptop and my mindset was, “I’m going to work on my blog!”
And I would – everything I did was in fact blog-related. But a lot of it was checking emails, scrolling through affiliate networks, reading through stats, and not actually doing anything that would yield results.
I can spend hours “working on my blog” and get nothing done.
But when I sit down with the clear intention of, “today I’m going to finish and publish a post”, those “work” hours look very different – and the end result is also very different.
In order to follow your passion without quitting your day job, you need to get good at setting goals.
Setting a clear objective for every day is a way to help you narrow your focus, and spend your energy where it will be most effective. I do this (of course) in my planner, but you can write it in your journal, on your phone, or even on a post-it note stuck on your vision board if you see it every day.
3. Recruit Support
When you’re looking to follow your passion without quitting your day job, you know you’ve got some busy days ahead of you. Your friends and family – and maybe even your coworkers – are going to notice that you’re distracted. Eventually someone’s going to ask you why you never come to happy hour anymore!
It can be tempting to buckle down and keep your moves to yourself. But is that mentality really going to do you any favors? While it’s true that not everyone is going to understand exactly what you’re doing – and not everyone will be supportive – letting your inner circle know what’s up can help.
When you let the people who love you know what you’re up to, they might surprise you. Most likely your trusted friends will want to help, even if that just means being a sounding board. In today’s interconnected world, going dark only hurts your relationships – and most people close to you will want to be able to cheer you on.
4. Prioritize Self Care
You can only run at peak for so long – doing all the things, all the time – before burnout becomes a very real threat. If you don’t make time or breaks, eventually your body will make the time for you.
You can avoid burnout by prioritizing self care, every day. Making sure you’re eating and sleeping right even when you’re chasing your dreams has rebounding benefits. Not only will it help keep you healthy and performing in the long run, it also dictates your short-term energy levels.
Making a point to take breaks, drink enough water, exercise, and do little things you enjoy isn’t the most glamorous part of following your passion. But it’s one of the most essential parts.
Burnout is no fun, and it’s a very real threat to your dreams. People suffering from burnout aren’t just forced to take a break; often that break can extend for weeks or months, and many people then give up and never go back to their goals. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you. Making the effort to rest from time to time is what will help you keep your strength for the marathon ahead.
5. Embrace the Work
In order to follow your passion without quitting your day job, you’ll need to get comfortable with the workload.
This doesn’t mean, like mentioned above, running yourself into burnout. But staying motivated long-term is a lot easier when you’re okay with being busy.
You’ll have a lot on your plate for while. This season of your life doesn’t have to last forever; if your end goal is to be able to quit your job so you can pursue your passion full-time, know that you WILL hit that point. But don’t wait for that day to be the day you get to start enjoying yourself.
Embrace the workload now. Try to enjoy the hustle. It helps a lot to just lean into it, instead of waiting for it to be over.
Look at this way: This is something you love doing! How lucky you are that you get to do this every day, whether that’s after or before work, on the weekends or even just on your lunch break. It can be easy to let yourself slip into a disgruntled mindset and wallow in everything you think you’re missing out on. Don’t lose sight of your goal: You started this journey because it was something you wanted. And as long as you stay on your path, the journey can be just as enjoyable as the destination. ♥