Please… Keep Your Day Job.

Don’t be stupid – keep your day job, at least for now.

This isn’t about whether you will or will not succeed, this is about releasing you of the strange myth that you can’t have the best of both worlds, that is, being an entrepreneur and “working for the man” in a typical 9-5.

Somewhere down the line you may have been sold a bill of goods where you were told that you can’t have both – that if you really wanted to pursue your dream then you have to quit your job and go full bore into your entrepreneurial endeavor.

I call bullshit on that one. Big time.

It’s this idea that if you’re a “true” creative, freelancer, entrepreneur then anything less than working for yourself is heresy, a compromise, a lack of integrity as an artist, etc. Who told you that? Those guys are idiots.

The creative person (and the smart person) will have two kinds of jobs: The one that pays the bills and the one that allows creative freedom to experiment and execute.

Yes, sometimes the two worlds will intersect where they operationally look like “one” world; when other times they look miles a part. One of them provides a steady income while the other one is a relative expense. In some scenarios you may find that the “other one” may even make a few bucks too, and there’s a good chance of that.

It’s a personal ecosystem I call “Collaborative Cash Model” when I want to get my fancy pants on. In other contexts I’ve simply called it “Don’t-Be-Stupid-and-Don’t-Quit-Your-Day-Job Model” where the money flows together from different sources in a model that fundamentally works with your strengths, your core motivations, and that excites you to no end.

Oh, and it also just simply pays the bills so you can eat and have a roof over your head.

Don’t be shocked – this happens all the time. For example, the creative writer who writes some serious novels but occasionally writes for boring print mags and the local paper on retainer. Or it’s the creative artist who’s in love with graffiti artwork that pays nothing but spends his time during the day rocking logo design and branding work for a local agency. Or it’s the web developer who works for the government during the day (super boring, “kill me now” type of stuff) but is able to build his experimental iPhone apps during the lunch break, after work, in the evening, and into the night.

Heck, you’ll even see this with Hollywood actors who appear in multi-billion dollar blockbusters that break all sorts of records but then you suddenly see them in what most people would call B-rated (or even C-rated) movies or even “indie” flicks that make no cash. It leaves you scratching your head for a moment, right?

Why? It’s because even Hollywood actors have to stay busy, have to continue to build revenue so that they can maintain a life of the rich and famous (and I say this without sarcasm – they literally have to pay for that lifestyle which comes with the territory).

Get the idea?

You must balance the cash system, the model, one that’s collaborative in nature that works for you. Make a decent living, be responsible, but maintain that creative autonomy in both arenas if you can.

I have done this for years, working for Fortune 50 and other smaller companies while building my body of entrepreneurial work on the side. You may or may not know about all of those things but who the heck cares? It doesn’t really matter.

And in many ways, if it wasn’t for those other jobs I’d be at Starbucks picking up a paycheck (which I actually did for a time) so that I can pay my monthly rent.

This tension that will exist will always exist. Deal with it. Grow up. Don’t buy they hype of people who are “all in” and seem to make a living just doing “one thing” – it just so happens that at this particular time the worlds seem to coalesce into just one world but it wasn’t always that way for that person and there is no guarantee that it’ll always be that way.

And most certainly it’s not the best model and way to live life – it’s just one model. I’ve built my current life around working full-time for a great company that I also happen to co-found but I’m also experimenting on things that are certainly not my “day job” (a’la Pressgram).

And the moment you realize and accept this it changes your world. Literally. You start being more happy, more free, and more successful. That’s a win in my book.

Just don’t compromise your strengths, your autonomy, mastery, and purpose, and make sure it aligns with your action plans in both contexts. Go do it.

A few things to think about that I often ask those that I coach who are in the middle of this challenge:

  1. Have you ever been told that you need to “completely” jump ship (at some point) so that you can “fully” pursue your dream? Did you buy in it? Why?
  2. How will you begin to manage your current “9-5” and continue to work on your dream on the side? How will you know when it’s time to be spending more time on the dream than the full time gig? How will you know it’s really time to get fired?
  3. What will you need for this shift to occur? Does it have to occur? Must it occur for you to be ultimately happy and fulfilled? What are the honest points of tension for you?

Your turn.

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