My generation does a lot of things really well, but something we don’t do well, is tell it how it really is, on social media. Lots of accounts encourage us to follow our passion. To live our bliss. To go after our dream jobs. And beneath these calls to action are photos of young people running off into the sunset. Or sunbathing on a beach. Or frolicking through a field with friends. As someone who has chosen to pursue my dream job, I can tell you my life does not look like this.
It does sometimes feel like this. I truly love the work I have chosen. I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t. But when I made the decision to be an author it meant doubling my workload, not doubling my free time.
I knew I wouldn’t make money for the first ten years or so. It would take me at least that long to figure out how to write a book. And then everything else would have to fall into place once I wrote one well, so there was a chance I wouldn’t make money for ten more years after that, maybe longer. Meanwhile, during these years, I still had to keep my head above water financially.
For me, this has meant waking up at 5:00 a.m. most mornings to write before I head into one of the 4-8 jobs I have at any given time. I work Monday-Sunday. And often, I’m up until 1:00 or 2:00 a.m., finishing what I was writing that morning.
I still have a life. I LOVE my life. I’ve just had to get extremely creative about the way I live it to keep my dream alive.
If you have a dream job in mind that you’d like to pursue in 2018, I hope that you choose to go after it. It’s rare to feel called to a career. And I believe answering a calling—whether it’s in our professional or personal life—is how we enrich our life, and the lives of others. To make it easier for you to choose to do so, I’ve listed suggestions for how to support your dream job, based on the ten years I’ve spent supporting mine.
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Find a job that won’t drain the specific skillset you need for your job. For a long time I wrote copy for companies. But by the end of the day the last thing I wanted to do was write for myself. Now, I mostly teach fitness classes. While I have to expend quite a bit of energy teaching, the energy I expend is physical, not mental. And mental energy is the kind of energy I need to write.
Determine what skills you need for your dream job and find jobs that help you practice those skills. Part of the reason I teach fitness classes is because it forces me to practice public speaking everyday for several hours. This is a skill I know I will need as a writer when it comes time for me to go on book tours. It can be hard to pull yourself away from your dream job to go work for somebody else, but I’ve found it easier to do so, when the work that I’m doing for someone else is still assisting my long-term plan.
Take on jobs that allow for networking. No matter what your dream job is, there will come a time where you will need the help of other people. Although not always glamorous, jobs in service industries provide the opportunity to meet new people constantly. And you never know when you will meet someone who might know someone, who knows someone, who might one day be able to help assist you in bringing your dream to life. One of my jobs is a fitness instructor at a hotel. Other jobs I’d recommend for networking are: server, bartender, flight attendant, and retail worker.
Don’t waiver on your decision to pursue your dream job every time someone asks you when you are going to get a real job. My biggest mistake during the first eight years or so I was writing women’s fiction was reevaluating my decision to be a writer every time someone asked me when I was going to get a real job. It’s a weird question, in my opinion. But if you don’t work 9-5 expect to get asked it at least twice a week. Own your decision.
Save all of your receipts. Every dream job has up front costs. Be sure to save the receipts from every purchase you make in pursuit of it so you can write off your future income down the road.
Protect your work time for your dream job. If you’re pursuing your dream job, chances are you’re doing this work at home. It’s important to set boundaries with friends and real office hours for yourself or else you’ll never get your work done. I work jobs for other people seven days a week, but I do this so that I can dedicate the second half of each day to my real work. Friends often think this means I am free every day at one or two o’clock. I’m done working my jobs that pay in the middle of the day. But that’s when I’m just about to start really working. Remind people of this. Remind yourself of this. And stick to it!
Let me know the dream job you’ve chosen to pursue or are hoping to pursue. I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about how to support it!