I came to the U.S. when I was 25 years old pursuing my dream of being a dancer. I heard about a Lion King audition for dancers and decided to give it a try. The same day I arrived, I went to a famous dance studio to take a dance class and it was there that someone said… Good luck on your audition, I can help you if you need a “Day Job.”
I knew what a job was, but I had no idea what she meant by “Day Job.”
According to the urban dictionary a Day Job is:
The talentless job you’re currently working for just to make money, while in the process of following the career path you are working on and that you actually really want.
Once I knew what people meant by day jobs, I remember thinking : – Ooh, I don’t think I’ll need one of those.
Mainly because I was coming from a culture where there was no need for that, there was always enough work in the industry I was in. Sure, maybe the jobs weren’t always perfect but they were still in the industry I wanted.
I wish I knew then what I know now.
Fast forward 16 years and about 8-day jobs later, many times I found myself stuck in a day job not knowing yet what to do or afraid of the next step (most of us creatives have been there). Fear has the effect of paralyzing us if we let it.
There is one thing that differentiates those who go through the day job journey with ease and grace and those who seem to get sick, day by day without any possibilities or hope to pursue what they want.
And that is the complete clear awareness that the day job is a key step of the process and not a burden or obstacle.
Those who have that awareness can see the path clearly, way beyond the day job, those without that awareness have no idea what their life will look like beyond that job and furthermore are even afraid of letting it go, whenever the time comes. Either way, you are not alone, a day job can be challenging even when you are the clearest visionary in the world!
How to balance your day job and your career journey
Become friends with your day job: Your job is giving you so much! Lifelong everyday lessons with people and personalities that you will find in your career path again, as well as stability and the ability to focus on your career. We all know how hard it is to create when you don’t know how you are going to pay next month’s rent. Your day job is also showing you in many ways what you don’t want to be.
Stay healthy: This means sleep your 8 hours, eat healthy food and exercise. I can’t tell you how many times I thought it was worth it to sacrifice all that for the sake of getting work out or progressing faster on that website. We live in a society that rewards hard work and so we have it ingrained in our minds that we must stay up and work long hours in order to achieve success.
Say no to what doesn’t align with how you want to feel: If you will ever sacrifice something, make it be that relationship, that commitment, that morning conversation, or that TV show, (or the money you spend at Starbucks every day) that’s not serving you anymore. Once you have your goal clear it’s very easy to filter what you are doing every day by asking yourself – Is this in alignment with my yearly goals?
Have clear goals: Every time I say goals I feel the need to emphasize the importance of the journey and how we feel on that journey. The goal is just a start, guiding us, but what really matters is how we feel while we get there and how that journey is fulfilling us.
Because we transform ourselves along the journey, not when we arrive at the finish line. So what’s your ultimate goal? How do you want to feel? What does your ideal day and life look like? What do you want and how do you want it? When you are clear about all these answers then you will have no doubt about the role of the day job in your life.
Show up grateful: Our intentions are what moves our world and what ultimately we exchange with others. It’s not our words, it’s what’s behind our words. Our attitude. When you show up for work, but you really want to be somewhere else, people notice. Just like you can read other people’s intentions behind their words, they can read yours. If you are showing up but hoping to go home then you aren’t in integrity with yourself.
That is completely unfair to yourself and to others who are in love with their jobs and show up to the same office hoping to get 100% from you that day. If you can’t practice being present where you are, a change in ambiance won’t do it for you, your character is built from the inside out. Sooner or later you will notice how you are complaining and dissatisfied no matter where you are.
Be ok with the pace of things: It’s ok if things are going slower for you than how they seem to be going for that artist you follow on Instagram. Your journey is unique and it will unfold in a unique way, trust your intuition and your own timing. Don’t try to rush things for the sake of getting faster to the finish line, remember the transformation and the joy is in the journey!
Share your journey with people that love you and understand you: Stay away from sharing your passions and career with people who don’t understand you. And most importantly, don’t judge them for not understanding you, they simply speak a different language and have made different choices than you. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s up to you where you put your energy and expectations.
Creative Daily practices to help you have energy for both your day job and your career
- Take naps
- Have play time
- Plan your after-work hours to the dot (Have a daily and weekly written plan)
- Find a space where you won’t be interrupted
- Have monthly goals and stay accountable
- Offer your services or sell your products while on your day job. Start low to build a body of work but as soon as you can price your products according to their real value.
- Save money. This is super important!!!
- Hire help even before you make a profit
Coming back to my dancer days story. The day of the audition I was so excited. This will be my first dance audition in the US and I may get it!!! Who knows, right?… They were looking for one female dancer. As I was arriving at the audition I saw an endless line of people around the block, and I thought… hmmm, I wonder what those people are doing there? As I got closer I realized those people, approximately 500 dancers were there to audition just like me, and one of them, only ONE in 500 was going to get the role.
I thought to myself, I might need that day job after all!!
As a creative, you may have a similar story to mine. What ways have you found to balance your day job and career? Let us know by sharing your story in the comments below!