Let’s talk about the day job for a moment.
I want to talk about this in the context of The Overlap Technique, that’s the book I’m writing.
You may remember back in tv002, I talked about keeping your passion from turning into a job. In that episode, I shared the four steps to preventing your passion from turning into a job so you can make sustatinable income from it and be supported by it:
Let’s assume that you already know what you enjoy doing and your goal is to get to the point to where you can do that vocationally. This is where the Day Job comes in. The day job is your foundation. It’s how you’re able to pay your bills while you work on getting traction.
The #1 biggest mistake people make is compromising on their passion to pay bills. They take on the wrong clients, they get desperate and take whatever work they can get because they’re trying to make ends meet.
The problem here is they aren’t adequately covering their expenses with a day job.
You need to treat the day job as a purely functional piece to this puzzle: the day job should cover 100% of your bills. It needs to account for all of your expenses completely.
This is what allows you to grow your passion organically because you’re not compromising on passion by prematurely using it as a tool to pay bills.
Think of your passion as your dream house and you’re building it on the foundation of the day job—it needs to be stable. The day job 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
I think the main reason this often gets overlooked is because you’re working hard. You’re working really hard to get your passion to the point where it supports you. You’re so anxious for it to get to that point that you’re trying to make it your main thing before it should be.
You’re scattered, you have split focus, you’re trying to make ends meet by doing a bunch of different things with different sources of income and whatever you can get. This is where things get clouded.
It’s easy to believe that you’re doing the right thing because you’re working hard.
Hard work is good, but the wrong kind of hard work is bad.
Here’s the thing, if you’re doing the wrong kind of hard work––in other words trying to force your passion without having an adequate foundation in place to to cover your bills––you will end up hating what you do. That’s if you’re lucky enough to have it work out at all.
The people in this position complain about their jobs, they go home stressed, they wake up stressed, and this is where you’re heading when you’re trying to force this thing. Struggling in the beginning when you don’t have any business pursuing the passion without having your bills covered is not the kind of struggle you want.
You may feel like you’re missing an “opportunity” to pursue your passion now, but how many opportunities are you missing out on because you burned out from starting prematurely?
Right Kind of Energy
So we covered that the day job is needed as a foundation and that it needs to cover your bills completely, but there’s one more very critical requirement:
Your day job needs to be in a different industry from your passion.
That means if design is your passion, your day job should not be in the design industry.
I know this might be somewhat alarming for you, but here’s why:
The primary goal is to protect the passion. You don’t want to kill the passion. We all agree on this right? It’s what we talked about in tv002, we all know someone who went and pursued their passion and ended up hating it.
The most common question I get regarding the day job is “Why does my day job need to be in a different industry?”
- “How important is this?”
- “Does it really matter?”
- “How different does the industry need to be?”
Here’s the answer: Only you can know.
How Do I Know?
The way you know is if you come home from your day job absolutely bursting at the seams with energy for pursuing what you’re passionate about.
The right day job will charge you for your passion.
The wrong one will drain you and deplete the right kind of energy you need.
“How close is too close?”
There’s no hard and fast rule. But the closer you get, the more you risk. If you do end up getting a day job within the industry of your passion, you’ll end up spending the same kind of energy there—that’s energy you won’t have for your passion later.
Are you coming home exhausted, or are you coming home super charged up and excited to work on your side projects? That’s how you know.
You have to choose: are you trying to turn your day job into your ideal job? Or you do want to be supported from your passion?
If you spend the same kind of energy at your day job, you’re going to be more invested even though the freedom is not there. The day job absolutely is the wrong environment for growing your passion organically. Don’t do this unless you want to be stuck in a day job forever. Because even if you eventually recognize it to be a detrimental thing, you will already be paralyzed because of a terrible phenomenon known as Golden Handcuffs.
Your Passion Is Worth It
It’s hard. I know it’s hard. You’re itching to do the work you love and that’s why you’re tempted to find a day job that’s partially what you like to do.
It’s worth doing the hard thing right now. I’m not talking about trying to make your passion work where 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 is worth it.
Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for burnout and you’re setting yourself up to hate your passion.
If you’re investing the energy you need for your passion into your day job, you will not have enough left over when you get home in order to succeed.
I beg you, treat the day job purely as a functional piece to this puzzle. The more you try to conform the day job into something you love, the more you kill the passion.
Please don’t kill the passion.