How I've changed my mind on day jobs

October 23, 2019

I used to be staunchly against day jobs.

The idea of a filler job that consumes 40+ of your 168 hours per week seemed like a soul-sucking, depressing waste of time.

Hypocritically, I’ve pretty much always had them, bar two extended periods of trying solely creative and business projects.

The thing about day jobs is that they’re primal.

If you trace far back enough through our ancestors, hunting was their day job. So was building shelter and protecting their family.

They didn’t get to be choosy about being a poet instead of a hunter. Either they hunted or they died.

Even after some time had passed, they pretty much took whatever job they could get to eat and take care of their family or tribe.

The beautiful thing about today is that we’re no longer forced to pick just any day job.

But we’ve also taken it so far as to expect that we can either get our dream job now, or do nothing at all.

If it’s not the absolute best, it’s not worth our time.

Except…if you actually act on this mentality and quit whatever job you have in the hopes of replacing it with your dream job or business, you’ll either be fortunate and succeed, or very commonly, you’ll be faced with the reality of the scarcity of your resources.

This is how I thought every time I quit a job to pursue my creative or entrepreneurial work.

And it wasn’t even that extreme. I didn’t want the perfect job or work, I just wanted work that I was fully in control of and that was better than what I was doing.

Each time I did that, I would be invigorated for a while, and then realize I was trying to force my dreams and necessity for money to coalesce into the same thing.

This usually meant compromising on one or the other. My work would suffer in order to try to make money, and my income would suffer because I insisted on doing “my passion”.

So now, I’m pursuing a day job.

Granted, I’m pursuing one that I’m actually excited about and that I hope to make into a career. But it’s still a job.

And if it doesn’t work out, I’ll get whatever job I can find to pay the bills.

But…even though we need to embrace work that pays our bills as our lowest bar, we definitely shouldn’t stop there.

I would never be satisfied settling for a mediocre job in the long-term. I’d like to avoid it in the short-term too, but if I can’t, so be it.

The difference between me getting a job now and when I had jobs that I complained about and was miserable in, is that now I’m embracing it as a privilege.

The luxury we have to pick from a smorgasbord of possible work is truly amazing, and the work that we choose is a reward in and of itself in that we actually get to choose it.

Outside of work, we can go all out on our passions. And if we’re lucky, eventually we can build our way into our passions making us a living. But going directly for that goal is seeming less and less like the optimal solution.