I hope you had a nice week!
For those of you who followed me through my 365 Day Happiness Project where I posted a drawing about happiness for a year, I have a good news! I finally turned some of them into art prints you can buy. I opened up a brand new shop on Society6 and have listed many of my drawings there. Let me know if you want my other works as prints because it’s fairly easy to add products to the shop!
In the last couple of my posts, you’ve been hearing from me about how I’m transitioning from a day job to a full-time working artist life. It’s new and exciting, and I’m taking it all in!
But today I want to step back a little and talk more about the day job because it’s still fresh in my mind, and there is a lot to reflect on.
My day job not only helped me financially but also provided me with experience and skills that I will totally use in my future endeavors.
Just to give you a quick background, I worked for a non-profit organization that helps people who are impacted by domestic violence (DV) in their lives. The organization provides wide array of direct service programs as well as prevention and outreach to the community.
It’s an awesome organization doing great work. I believe in the mission and the values of the organization wholeheartedly. I’ve worked with so many caring, dedicated, and smart people there. That’s probably why I lasted there for almost 15 years!!!
I have held several different positions throughout the years, and that also helped keep me motivated for so long.
I started out as an admin assistant and then became a direct service advocate working with DV victims. After several years, I was promoted to be one of the program managers, and when I felt done with that position, I took a position as their executive assistant and HR manager.
I was very fortunate to be able to work in so many different capacities. I learned many different skills in each of the positions I held.
And most importantly, I learned a lot about myself.
I leaned that:
- For me to be able to enjoy my work, I need to be able to believe in the mission and the values of the organization. Even if the job offered a lot of $$, if I didn’t believe in the cause, it would be meaningless for me. Yup I’m an idealist, and it’s OK to be one 🙂
- I need to be constantly learning new things and be encouraged to be creative. That’s probably why I changed jobs every 3-4 years. It was perfect because I was able to learn and grown in one organization where I felt safe and comfortable in.
- I don’t like to make decisions for other people and tell people what to do. Which is a lesson I learned from being a program manger and working in HR. Being authoritative is not my most favorite thing. What I like to do is to help people find their own strengths and support them in their own growth and development.
In April of 2013, I asked my boss to cut back on my hours so I can put more time and energy towards growing my art business. She graciously agreed, and for the last two years I worked 30 hours a week and kept 10 hours/day x 3 days schedule.
Although long days were exhausting, it gave me two weekdays to work on my art business. Which was great!
When I look back on all the different positions I’d held and think of one aspect I enjoyed the most, I would have to say it was coaching people. Whether helping our clients find different coping strategies to stay safe and heal or encouraging employees to set goals and follow through on them, it was so rewarding to help people realize their potentials and grow.
The approach for coaching people, which is pretty similar to the method of counseling we use to help the DV victims, is based on empowerment of people and identifying and nurturing their strengths.
I think that’s why I’m so passionate about coaching people. I don’t have to make decisions for people or tell them what to do. I find things they’re good at and encourage them to do more of that! It’s a win-win!
And it got me thinking – how can I combine my passion for helping people with my passion for art? How can all of my non-art-related skills and strengths be put to use to take my business to the next level?
There are many ways to do this. For example, I’m writing this weekly blog to share my experience and things that help me reach my goals in hopes that many of you will find it helpful. I also do my best to answer questions from my audience around my processes. I meet with other creative entrepreneurs regularly as accountability partners. (Note: there will be a blog post about this later!)
I’m also working on adding new services to help people achieve their creative goals through one-on-one coaching and group workshops. I’ll keep you guys posted as things unfold! I’m SO excited about it!!
So, one of my biggest takeaways for balancing a day job and pursuing my passion is this:
Your day job becomes so much more meaningful and engaging when you can see how your everyday work is helping you achieve your big goal.
Although my day job was not directly helping me become a more successful artist per se, once I identified how it was helping me become a better business person in a long run, it became more meaningful.
Everyone’s situation is different. Not all day jobs allow the flexibility and development opportunities like mine did. I feel fortunate that I got so much out of my day job while they lasted. If I need to get another day job someday, I probably won’t be as lucky. And that’s ok too.
At the end of the day, your day job’s number one purpose is to provide you and your family with financial stability while you pursue your passion.
There is absolutely no shame in having a day job while you pursue your passion. It’s actually a responsible thing to do. You don’t want to worry about paying your bills and it becoming your primary goal for making art. What happens next is you compromise your values to get work. The quality of your work will suffer, and you will be burned out at some point.
The act of creating art will no longer bring you joy and meaning. Wouldn’t that be so sad??
To learn more about balancing a day job and your passion, you can listen to this podcast from Seanwes where he talks about the Overlap Technique. Basically, having a day job allows you to follow your passion without having to compromise your values as an artist/designer/maker. Because you’re not desperate to make money from your creation, you can be intentional about how you grow your business. And once your business is bringing enough consistent income you can phase out of your day job.
Full disclosure here: I was planning on keeping my day job for a couple more years because my art business is not bringing in enough consistent income quite yet.
I’ll share more about why I quit now and how I prepared for the transition in my post next Sunday. It’s going to be a good one! If you’re thinking about transitioning out of your day job some day, be sure to check back in.
Though quitting my day job cold turkey was my Plan B, I knew in my gut it was the right decision for me. It’s scary not knowing how things will pan out, but I have not regretted my decision one bit. And I absolutely LOVE working for myself. I’m busier than ever, but it is so empowering to be able to make decisions about what’s best for me and my business.
I look forward to sharing more with you next week! Take care until then.
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