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Last episode, we talked about How to Find Your Passion. This was a very real topic for Ben as he was struggling firsthand with a lot of the things we were discussing.
In the days following the recording, Ben reflected on what we talked about and ended up writing an article on his own blog about setting his passion free. He realized that he was trying to solve the wrong problem. He thought the problem was finding his passion. What he ended up concluding was that he had no business trying to find his passion because he did not yet have a stable day job covering his bills.
His passion pursuits could not be free because he was using them as a tool to fill in the gaps of his monetary needs. What he needs is a day job that covers 100% of his bills first before he pursues the passion and he only has 50% covered.
We talk about the day job a lot in passing, but its importance is often missed. In this episode we talk about the crucial role of a day job as a foundation and define the right kind of day job needed to fully support the pursuit of your passion. An insufficient day job makes you vulnerable to Scarcity Mindset which leads to compromising your professionalism to pay the bills.
As fun as it is to talk about doing what you love, you have to go about it in the right way or you’ll kill the passion. Do you love this thing enough to not do it right now? It would be a disservice to say “Drop everything and pursue your passion!” without first defining the necessary foundation required. This is the purpose of The Overlap Technique. Let’s talk about it.
- 09:30 The danger is having this question of “passion” overshadow an underlying issue:
- The supposed problem: “I need to find my passion.” (Related: e101 How to Find Your Passion)
- The actual problem: Covering bills first with a day job.
- 09:48 Ben: “Though I knew the problem of covering my bills existed, I was too focused on figuring out what I wanted to do first. I thought if I found that out, the real problem would just fix itself.”
- 11:08 Sean: You mentioned that “get a day job” sounds like a simple answer, but it’s not really simple. Why do you think it’s not simple in practice?
- 11:50 Ben: “There’s criteria that the job needs to meet. It has to have the margin to allow you to pursue your passion on the side. You have to be very realistic with yourself about what you’re willing to take on in a day job. You don’t want to approach finding a day job with a Scarcity Mindset or you might end up picking one that seems right at first but really isn’t sustainable.”
- Defining the right type of day job
- 12:43 In The Overlap Technique, the “day job” is a platform that supports your passion. Yes it covers the bills, but there are other functions it needs to serve.
- 13:03 It also needs to be in a different industry than your passion. Otherwise it’s going to suck all of the creative energy that you need to pursue your passion when you get home from work. You’re going to be spending that same kind of energy at your day job when it’s in the same industry.
- 14:07 If your day job doesn’t cover 100% of your bills you need to find something else that does, or maybe a second day job to cover the rest.
- 14:32 A lot of people try to supplement their remaining income needs with their passion. “Well, I’m already making half the money I need, so I’ll just do random jobs here and there with my passion.” But this leads to compromise of the passion. You want to be able to pursue it for the sake of enjoyment so it can grow organically. When the passion is not a source of income, you can afford to try it out for the sake of doing it. That’s what I mean by “protect the passion.”
- 15:14 When you have a part time job and you depend on the passion to make up the difference, you run the danger of going about it unprofessionally so you can pay your bills. You’re more likely to take on a bad client because you have the “take on whatever you can get” mindset.
- 15:50 Ben: “If you’re like me, and you like a lot of things but you’re not really sure what you want to do, having your income depend on whether or not any one of your passions can meet your needs is paralyzing.”
- 17:54 When your passion is actually supporting you it is the thing that you’re focusing on. That’s why we have curation (Related: e074 Curate What You Share). That’s what enables you to specialize, that’s what enables you to be seen as an expert or an authority. Since you’re focused, people associate you with this thing. Because you’re curating.
- 18:15 That is how you eventually make money from your passion. So it’s tempting to think, if you have 50% of your bills covered by a day job, that you really need to focus in order to make up the difference with your passion. But the problem is, it’s too much pressure right now. You’re thinking, “I want to try these things, but I have to pick the right one and really focus if I’m going to be able to make the money I need to pay my bills!” That’s too much pressure.
- 18:58 It’s like I mentioned in the last episode, the worst passion-discovering question ever: “If you could do one thing for the rest of your life what would it be?” You’re putting yourself in a place of having to pick the right thing and having to monetize it too quickly so you can make up the difference in your income. It’s the quickest way to kill the passion.
- 19:15 Ben: “That’s so true, it really does put such a strain on the passion.”
- 20:41 Sean: So what makes it so difficult, this concept of “get a day job first?” In the last show I said, “Do you love this thing enough to not do it right now?”
- 21:18 Ben: “There are some other ways that you can overlap too. You can overlap using savings or money that you’re getting from investments, but the key is it has to cover 100% of your bills. The day job is just the most obvious and feasible solution for most people.”
- 21:52 Sean: Oh yeah, maybe you just have someone who comes over and puts money in an envelope for you, that works too. The point is not to use your passion to make up the difference. Especially when it comes to professionalism and client work, you’re going to be tempted to compromise on your morals, process, and the right type of client. You’re not going to be willing to charge what you’re worth and stick to your process (Related: e046 How to Make More Money Freelancing by Pricing Your Projects on Value). When you’re in Scarcity Mindset and you’re thinking, “I’ve got to pay bills,” you’re much more inclined to do whatever it takes to get this client whether they are the right client or not. That is kryptonite.
- 24:37 Sean: What do you say to someone who says, “This just sounds depressing.”
- 24:42 Ben: “From the outside, it looks a little bit like conceding or just giving up. But it’s actually the opposite. You can’t think of it as ‘This isn’t working so I have to go get a job now.’ Tell yourself that you’re purposefully going to get a job that is going to create a stronger foundation for me to build my passion the right way. It’s a very intentional, purposeful step that you can take to secure a better future for your passion.”
- 25:53 Sean: I don’t know if you guys can hear this but I can tell this is a very real issue for you right now, Ben. I just feel a real genuineness right now when you’re talking about this. You’re not just coming at this from a place of prescribing this for other people, this is something that you’re living through right now.
- 26:19 Ben: “Yes, this is an episode that I’ll have to go back and listen to. I need to hear these things. This is one of those things where I ‘get’ the answers and I know what the steps are, but my heart wants to act in a different way. It wants to go in different directions. I’m basically wanting to be an anchor. I want these ideas and this process to be an anchor for that person that feels drawn so strongly to a passion or many passions that it has become difficult for them to build a strong foundation—because that’s where I am.”
- 27:25 Some people play a mental trick on themselves: they say they love their passion so much they’re willing to do it now when it’s hard and when they’re not able to support themselves with it. They feel like they’re doing the hard work in the beginning that’s required to make it, but they’re doing the wrong kind of hard work.
- 29:13 Other people who compromise their passion to make early progress through the wrong kind of hard work may seem to be ahead in the short term, but eventually they burn out.
- 31:04 Even the people who somehow happen to make it to the point of being able to pay bills after compromising end up hating what they do. They complain about their job, they wake up stressed, and they go home stressed. That’s the place you’re going towards when you’re forcing this thing. Struggling in the beginning to make your passion happen when you don’t have any business pursuing the passion right now is not the kind of struggle you want. The direction that struggle is headed in is not going to a place you want to be.
- 31:44 Ben: “Yeah, and I’ll just tell you from personal experience: I’m going on years now of trying to do it that way and it’s not working.”
- Your passion is worth it
- 32:34 It’s worth doing the hard thing right now. I’m not talking about trying to make your passion work where it shouldn’t and when it shouldn’t, I’m talking about not doing it right now and finding a job that isn’t your passion to setup the foundation before you even start building the house. I think your passion’s worth it. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for burnout and you’re setting yourself up to hate your passion. We all know people who’ve forced it. They quit their job to pursue their passion without the right kind of foundation to support it and they end up hating it.
- 33:39 It personifies the story for a lot of us:
- “Oh, this guy tried to do music, but now he’s a waiter. He’s back at the restaurant.”
- “Oh, this guy tried to be an artist, but he said he got a lot of bad clients and never caught his lucky break.”
- 34:02 Ben: “It’s such a common story, because the approach you’re talking about is so unconventional. It seems like bravery to get out there and try to do the thing you love without having the support you need from somewhere else. It seems brave, but it’s more courageous to put your passion on hold and get things setup the right way.”
- 35:06 We talk about passion a lot and finding the thing you should be focused on now, but I think this episode is needed to remind people that you may not be in the position to be worrying about what your passion is. The first step is establishing yourself with a day job.
- 35:38 Just don’t get a day job you hate. If you’re in a day job that you hate, it’s the wrong day job. You’ve got to get out of that (Related: e086 Why You Should Quit Your Job). You can’t have a day job that is stressing you out and draining your creative energy.
The day job needs to cover 100% of your bills.
The day job is your foundation. The passion is your dream house and you’re building it on the foundation of the day job—that needs to be stable.
It needs to completely be the foundation and the support of this house that you’re building. If you’re building it on half of a foundation, it’s just going to crumple.
Hard work is good.
The wrong kind of hard work is bad.
You may feel like you’re missing an “opportunity” to pursue your passion now, but how many opportunities will you miss in the future because you burned out from starting prematurely?