For the past several years, I have dreamed of becoming a designer. For much of that time, I simply dreamt and wished. I read stories about people pursuing their dreams, changing their careers and making things happen. I read articles on what to do, and how to do it. I watched bloggers start careers from scratch and change the course of their lives.
After a year or more of this pattern, I realized that while I was equipped with knowledge and inspiration, I was lacking in one area - action. I worked full time (and still do!) in the financial industry, and constantly found excuses to not go after my dream. I found myself making excuses like "I'm exhausted after a long day of work." or "I'm not qualified to be a designer." I put doubts in my mind, before ever even attempting to go after my goals. Things like "I'm not creative enough." or "I'll never succeed." filled my mind and kept me from taking action.
My biggest excuse was the giant responsibility I faced every single day - my full time job. It can seem daunting to start a creative business when your 8 to 5 life is so serious and professional, and it is easy to get into the routine of your full time job. To wake up, put on your dress slacks, drive to the office, and do what needs to get done so that a paycheck arrives.
Today I am talking to the suppressed creative soul. The person who has accepted the responsibilities that life demands, yet yearns for the free spirited release and adventure of their creative passion. I am one of you, and I know the force with which your creativity pulls you. I'm here to tell you that you can have both, and that every single day you can make small progress towards your ultimate goal.
Here are my thoughts on pursuing your creative passion when you work full time.
01 | Invest in Yourself
For any creative endeavor, it's import to invest in cultivating and expanding your skill set. In the first few years of my corporate career, I daydreamed and fantasized over doing something that made me come alive. As the pull became stronger and I felt more and more called to creativity, I started to invest in cultivating my skills. I borrowed my dad's DSLR (which I've yet to return... whoops) and spent time getting to know it. I took pictures of anything and everything and spent time editing those photos in Lightroom. I purchased memberships to Lynda and Skillshare so that I could learn Photoshop and Illustrator. I took a three month coding class through Skillcrush.
Each of these things cost time or money, both of which are valued and limited commodities in our home, but every minute and penny I have spent on growing and expanding has been a true investment in my future. Without these investments, I wouldn't be here writing this post today, or be at the point of offering design services to clients - a dream of mine since day one. Invest in yourself. I promise the return will be worth it.
02| Set Small Goals
When you work full time, it can feel like you aren't making progress, despite practice and hard work going into your creative passion. When you are limited to evenings and weekends, and balancing your already demanding work schedule with the demands of your home, it can feel overwhelming if you get too hung up on the big picture.
Focus on small goals. So you want to be a photographer? Reach out to your friends to schedule a free session this month. Next month - do it again. If you can do it weekly, even better. By setting a small goal of getting practice and building a portfolio over time, you'll suddenly find that you have a strong, solid foundation for your portfolio.
You may not arrive at the final destination TODAY. But in time, you can slowly but surely chip away and ultimately find yourself right where you want to be.
03| Use Your Time Wisely
For those working an 8am - 5pm schedule like me, I know how hard it is to find a spare moment in the day. When work is done for the day you are tired, but now your responsibilities in your home call your name and have to be attended to. It can feel difficult to find the time to pursue your goal.
Using my time effectively throughout the day has been key in moving forward. Rather than a 15 minute coffee break, I'll spend time commenting and participating on blogs I enjoy. Instead of going out to lunch, I'll work on sketching logo concepts for a client or making small revisions to a project. We do a lot of roasted vegetables for dinner around here - what do I do while they are in the oven? Stand in the kitchen with my laptop and work away.
If you scan your day and assess what time is spent where, you can find the time, and if you are passionate and driven enough by your end goal, you WILL find and make the time.
Each of these things I have mentioned thus far require one important thing: the willingness to sacrifice. I almost hesitate to use the word sacrifice here, because if it's something you truly love, it should feel exciting and invigorating and not like a sacrifice at all. But there are still times when you'll have to break the patterns and comfort of your daily 8 to 5 to make room for your creativity.
Perhaps you enjoy talking with your coworkers during lunch or for coffee. There's no need to skip this interaction every day, but sacrificing that time a few days a week can create little windows of time to help you get one step closer to the bigger picture. Perhaps you are hooked on a TV series on Netflix (story of my life!), and all you want to do at the end of a long day of work and home responsibilities is watch a few episodes of your new favorite show. Spending that 45 minutes watching a portion of a class on Skillshare, or painting, or editing your photographs and sacrificing that lazy hour a few times a week will add up over time and ultimately amount to progress.
Sacrifice is also necessary when it comes to investing in your skills and your endeavors. I love new clothes as much as the next girl, but I have seriously curbed that "hobby" (okay...addiction) to refocus those dollars on becoming better at what I want to be good at. I've said no to dinners out, because I am spending money on a coding class. I've prioritized a portion of my budget towards further investing in growing and learning and have "sacrificed" some aspects of my disposable income. But at the end of the day, these small sacrifices are so worth it.
05| Keep Dreaming
It can be frustrating to feel like you are not making progress towards your creative goals, or to feel like your life revolves around a job that doesn't quite inspire you like designing or photographing or painting does. When you work full time, it is easy to get stuck in a routine and leave what fuels your spirit to the wayside. Keep your passion alive by doing something small every day, and keep your eye on what ignites you. Trust me when I tell you that the only thing more frustrating than having a limited amount of time to do something you love, is not doing anything at all. Keep your dream alive, and I am certain you will make it happen.