Sometimes, you don't have to quit your job to work for yourself. You can have two jobs: your day job and your life’s work. So if you can’t change your 9-5, change your 5-9.
Toward the end of 2014, I felt unfulfilled by my job, and was waiting for some promotion or praise to remind me that I was in the right place or on the right track. I wanted to get back from my job what I thought I was putting in. When I didn’t get any of that, I turned on myself, wondering if I was wrong about where I was in my life.
Before I could make a rash decision, my reality check came in. My roommate and best friend from college quit her job and left New York City for Boulder, Colorado to focus on launching her own business. When she returned January of 2015, she had no job and no intention of getting one. Whuile she had a 9-5 or 10-6, she focused intensely on her business on her off hours.
It didn’t take long for me to realize I too wanted to work for myself. I started to consider what business I could create, but quickly learned I didn’t want that. Not yet at least. I wanted to work for myself, but I didn’t want to quit my job. Corporate was teaching me a lot, but other parts of myself weren’t developing. Then it hit me. I could do both. What would happen if I dedicated the same amount of time, energy, creativity, organizational skills and goal-oriented mindset to my out-of-work life? Fulfillment, that’s what. Here are the ways you can work for yourself without quitting your day job.
Set your hours and commit to them.
If your schedule is 9-5, stick to it as much as possible. It’s like a promise to yourself that you’ll be there on time for your 5-9 shift. And remember to be effective with your time, not just busy. Instead of going home and getting into your regular routine, shake it up a bit. Read a development book for 30 minutes, take a course, watch an informational video, write, draft that business plan, create something new. You've spent eight hours working for someone else, making someone else's business grow. Why not spend an hour or two taking care of your own business. Make the time to make something for yourself.
Figure out your passion and how it executes your purpose.
Your passion is what you like to do, your purpose is why you like to do it. Essentially, what you find yourself drawn to do is most likely your passion and will guide you to your purpose in life like a north star. Just keep in mind the process of finding your "north star" will require you to be patient, honest and supportive of yourself.
Find a project that requires a skill or talent you’re most confident in.
Your brain is a muscle and will not grow stronger if you don’t use it. Worse yet, your talents and skills will weaken. Discover ways for you to flex, to show off at what you're good at. Raise your hand for opportunities outside of your day-to-day job that let you do this.
Spending a lot of time thinking about how unhappy you are? Get outside of yourself and give yourself a break--a productive one. Volunteer for events where you’ll be able to help someone else. Doing so will help you meet new people and expand both your skill-set and knowledge base.
Set 3-6-12-month goals.
What do you want to see happen in your life that hasn’t happened already? This could be of a personal or professional capacity. Write it down. You’ll have 3 months, or 6 months, or 12 months to reach this goal before starting a new one. Take baby steps!
Prioritize what you love.
You can tell a lot about a person by how they spend their money and time. When you say, “I don’t have the time to...” what you’re really saying is, “I don’t prioritize...” Evaluate how you’re spending your time. Say yes to yourself in the present but also say yes to who you want to become, and remind yourself of what matters most.
Nurture your network.
At least once a week, text, email or call someone with whom you’d like to stay in contact. Be consistent every week, even if it means planning out what you’re going to say or write in advance. People who are close to you can help you stay focused on what matters and hold you accountable to what you say you’re going to do. They also offer a different perspective and help you get where you want to go.
What gets celebrated, gets repeated. If you’re finding it hard to keep up your 5-9, then reward yourself whenever you do. It’s a huge deal to stay committed to yourself and your joy. You’re building a habit after all. So pat yourself on your own back and keep moving forward.