For many passion driven people, artists, entrepreneurs, teachers and healers, the thought of having a day job sucks.
There’s a myth out there that to be a “real” entrepreneur we need to be 110% in our businesses (yeah, ignore the bad math!)
Yet many of us have to take day jobs to support ourselves and our families while our businesses are becoming established. I’m one of them—and I’ll be honest, for a while there I resented that job; I was focused on all things that frustrated me about it, especially the time it took out of my life—time I’d much rather have been spending on my business.
But I decided that wasn’t all that helpful a way of thinking. So I did a little bit of reframing for myself and discovered that there are many benefits to having a bridge job.
It freed up my brain space and stopped me thinking about my business all the time. It’s easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole of possibilities, obsessing about product design, launch sequences and client issues. For every obsessive genius we hear about there are a 100 more who are so overwhelmed and engrossed that nothing gets done; there’s no play, rest, family time, socializing.
I realized I don’t want to just build a business, I wanted a business that worked with my life. That meant having some balance. The bridge job gave me some of that.
That day job kept me connected to the “real world”—the world where my current and future customers are likely to live. Don’t get me wrong, I love the online entrepreneurial communities I’m part of, but it’s easy to start living in an echo chamber where everyone is talking about the same things. Real innovation stems from staying connected to a wide variety of people and situations and my job gave me that.
Having limited time to spend on my business forced me to become ruthlessly focused on the really important stuff. No more chasing bright shiny objects, spending hours on the latest strategy of the week or getting lost in Facebook groups. I had less time to be “busy” and more need to be productive. For every task I asked myself “does this take me closer to my goal or is it eating up time?” I soon found I become far more discerning with my time and activities.
I began to charge more! When I had a blank calendar (and experiencing the panic that went with it) it was too easy to take any business that will fill it. Knowing that I only got a limited time available for my business meant I suddenly valued that time more. I know I’m not alone in struggling to charge what I was worth (or even a sustainable amount) and the mental breakthroughs I needed on this issue came when I had the choice of dinner with my husband or a client session—and if I was gonna miss dinner, than I was damned sure I was getting paid an amount that was worth my while (and yes, I made it up to my husband!)
It gave me some security. Yes I know there’s a common assumption that entrepreneurship is driven by taking risks but for many people (women especially) our risk tolerance is low. And let me tell you—there’s nothing wrong with valuing keeping a roof over your head or paying for you kids lunches. In fact, it’s what grown-ups do. Yes my dreams are important, but so is paying for my kids school uniform. My bridge job meant I got to do both.
Talking of security, knowing I had enough income to cover my family’s basic needs took me out of survival and into creation mode. Nothing kills creativity faster than the stress of not being able to pay your bills. For every person for whom this fear kicks them into mega hustle mode, there are 100 more who fall into a spiral of fear and anxiety. Our brains don’t function well on fear.
Are you best decisions made when you’re in panic? Of course not.
Whilst we need a certain amount of adrenaline to propel us forwards, having sleepless nights about how you’re going to make rent is not the best mind set for the innovation and growth required to make it as an entrepreneur. Being free of that stress opened me up to the flow of energy and life—creating new possibilities, ideas and ease—which is a much better place to be building my business from.
There are a lot of myths out there about what it takes to make a successful, sustainable business. What I’ve discovered is that there is not one size fits all—your business has to fit with your life—your real life (as opposed to some idealized fantasy.)
I have learned to truly embrace what is—and by doing so found my the journey to where I want things to be is so much easier, faster and juicier.
Author: Jo Casey
Editor: Catherine Monkman
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