Okay, I know the drill – you’re not all that keen on your job. Maybe there are changes going on that feel like they’re holding you back.
The promotion you expected didn’t happen – and worse, the people you thought were your friends are turning against you and blocking progress on all fronts.
The raise you needed didn’t come through. Maybe the company fell short of quarterly goals. Or you fell short on your own goals.
The great ideas you have, don’t seem to get the kind of reception you’d expect them to get. I mean, they’re great ideas – why isn’t anyone listening?
Plus, you feel creatively drained. You just don’t have the outlets for your own personal expression in the workplace that you had during school, or you have on your own free time.
You’ve got ideas – great ideas. And you’re sure you can make a “go” of it. Step out on your own. Take it to the streets. Follow your dreams. Write the novel. Create the art. Play the music. Code that app or the game or some other technical innovation. Eventually, the money will follow. Right? How long are you supposed to put your dreams on hold, anyway?
I get all that. I’ve been there. I’m still there, now and then.
Here’s the thing, though – bills have to be paid. And obligations have to be met. Unless you’ve got well-heeled friends/family who can house and feed you indefinitely, or you’re willing to live on less, the years it takes to go from great to everybody-knows-your-great-and-will-pay-you-to-keep-being-great can stretch on and on… sometimes 10-20 years. In between, there’s a ton of hard work, dedication, focus that’s required, just to keep going, let alone break out of the crowd.
The question is, do you want to struggle to eat and live safely, at the same time you’re struggling to refine your craft?
Everybody under-estimates the amount of work and time it takes to get anything new off the ground. Everybody does. Just ask the Greatest of the Great. And everybody overestimates how receptive the rest of the world will be to their idea and offerings. Just look at the dot-com bubble. Everybody was so sure they had the next best thing since sliced bread. But what happened? The bubble burst like a spoiled egg thrown at your car windshield. And we all suffered for it, whether we were involved or not.
The thing about having a job, is that it keeps you fed and housed. It also keeps you respectable. It keeps you in a positive “that person is a contributor” role that strengthens your position in society, which is important when you start making the rounds to pitch your idea to others. I know plenty of people say, “You have to commit fully” when you launch a new idea, and that implies you have to stop doing everything else.
But take it from someone who’s done the bohemian thing, only worked when I wanted to, and had no investment in the 9-5 work scene, other than when I was working a temporary gig. It’s a whole lot easier to create, be creative, innovate, and have the room to think and dream and evolve your concepts, when you have food in your stomach and a roof over your head — and you’re pretty certain neither of them are going away tomorrow.
Obviously, there’s no guarantee of anything, but you get my point.
But what about your dreams? What about your innovations? If they burn brightly enough within you, and you’re committed enough to them, you’re going to find a way to do them, even if you are working full-time for someone else. You have time before work. You have your commute time. You have your lunch hour. You have the commute home, and then the evening. How much time do you fritter away on Facebook, Twitter, movies, sit-coms, gaming… all that stuff that helps take the edge off your existential angst? Channel just a smidge of that drive into creating something of your own, on your own time, and watch what happens.
To date, I’ve published over 20 books. 13 of them I wrote myself. They’re well-designed, if I say so myself, and I’ve enjoyed creating and publishing them. I’ve produced a ton of original artwork, and that’s also brought me joy. I have a comfortable home where I have a study of my own, with bookshelves full of books I’ve been able to afford, because I always had a job.
Having a full-time job isn’t a dream-killer. It’s a resolve-sharpener. And I firmly believe that if I had had all the time in the world, all the leisure, all the leeway to do as I please, I never would have gotten all that done.
So, if your job isn’t inspiring you to take your creative activity to new heights… join the club. I don’t know of many people who feel that way. But if your irritation with your day job isn’t inspiring you to take matters into your own hands and make the most of every single spare moment in your waking hours, directing it towards the work of your dreams… well, quitting your job isn’t going to fix stuff for you.
If anything, it might actually make it worse.