Hard Truth: The majority of creative people I coach start their careers or businesses while working a second "survival" job.
I prefer the term “freedom job,” cuz when you find the right one, that's what it provides: the freedom to fulfill your creative function on this planet (thank you, Universe). However, if your this job is inflexible, financially incompatible, or sucking all your energy, something’s gotta give.
This doesn’t mean you should act out your daydream of rebelliously ripping off your name tag and marching out the door in a fit of rage, while your co-workers look on with awe and longing! (Drama is never the answer.)
If you’re unhappy at your money gig, take a moment to get really clear about what is dragging you down. (#WalkThruATorii).
Chances are good that it's one of the biggies: it takes up all of your time, the money isn’t good, or it drains you of energy. Determine which sucky issue you’re dealing with and then simply go to your boss and ask if there’s any way that the issue can be addressed.
What?! Wait?! No way?!
Yes, and... now lookee here! You must do a clear-headed, mature, searching, and fearless inventory of your “work-self” before making this ask.
Are you good at your job?
Are you always on time?
Do you uplift the energy?
Do you contribute to the efficiency by create an atmosphere of problem-solving?
Do you make your boss’s life easier?
If you answered yes to all, it’s a done deal. Go make the ask.*
A Few Guidelines to Thriving:
Your freedom job probably won’t be in your chosen creative field – and that’s totally OK. You need to earn a living. Financial security breeds spacious, creative thinking and allows you to show up for classes, interviews, auditions, writing sessions, etc. feeling confident, stimulated, and inspired.
The Universe doesn’t speak in money, it speaks in abundance. It may very well drop a sizeable check in your lap but it may also nab you an out-of-town gig so you suddenly get to spend time with mom in Ohio.**
Start measuring success with a new quotient (that is not financial). You’re probably already doing this! Remember that independent film you produced – just for “the experience?” If that very same unpaid student film got into the Tribeca Film Festival, I think you’d be pretty fulfilled. And you still wouldn’t have made a dime.
Don’t let your freedom job consume you. If you can get it together to clock-in on time and smelling good for your Saturday night bartending shift, then you can work on your web series or creative portfolio for three hours on your day off (Spiritual Creative Pro-Tip: get an accountability partner).
It is possible to take giant steps towards your creativity and your career while working a freedom job. It's worth spending time to find a good one.
Remember, your experience coming up as an artist has trained you to be both personable and professional - making you a great catch for any employer. So, honor the very human desire to be able to easily pay your rent and take the occasional vacation. Find a freedom job – or celebrate the one you’ve got! – where you can make some dough, stay focused, and pursue your calling.
Geoffrey Owens Update: Since his "paper or plastic" media moment last week, Owens was offered a 10-episode arc on Tyler Perry’s series and is shooting a guest spot on NCIS: New Orleans right now! #FreedomJobSuccessStory
freedom job footnotes
*If your boss is open to getting creative to make your work, well, work – fantastic! Celebrate! And then get specific about how you’ll be able to serve her better when the job better serves your life. If she says, “No way, José,” also fantastic. You have the answer you need… now you gotta get serious and emotionally sober with your bad self and decide your next move. (Spiritual Creative Pro-Tip: Every time you ask for what you need – regardless of the outcome – you exercise the spiritual and attitudinal muscles needed to speak up for your worthiness. The next time you make a similar request, you’ll be an Olympian.)
**A few years ago, I was asked to emcee a tech conference in San Francisco. I worked overtime on the format (creatives, you feel me?), I paid for my own lodging, and I booked my own flights. Whew! And on the last day of the gig, I took myself for a walk through the Palace of the Arts; in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge; and out for a job-well-done dinner – it was one of those unforgettable, peak moments when you feel most alive.I honestly couldn't tell you how much I was paid. #TheUniverseSpeaksInAbundance
Another instance, I asked production on a commercial if I could fly to Pittsburgh early and boom! – thank you, Universe – my mom and I got to spend a day together... and one of my best friends, a local, joined us for dinner! At this very minute I’m planning to lead a Life and Career Mastery Class in my hometown (Mom, please stock the fridge!).