Make on the side: why you shouldn't quit your job

You shouldn't quit your job to pursue creative side hustles. In fact, you probably need that job.

Let's say you want to pursue a passion. You love something that doesn't make money.

But you have to be functional and adulting. You have to pay your bills. The responsibilities of adulthood gnaw at you.

Doubling down on your passion appears to be a smart move on the surface. How else are you going to be great at something if you don't spend an extraordinary amount of time learning, doing, making mistakes, and growing?

It's true,  but nearly all artistic pursuits are not economically valuable within the world of Western capitalism. Even if you can bypass the enormous pressure in our culture to attain material success and status, you still need to meet your basic needs of keeping the lights on and feeding the family.

The stereotype of the starving artist is real. Every year that passes, the world becomes more competitive. What worked 20 years ago no longer applies and is utterly irrelevant in today's more global, connected, information-saturated performance economies.

In Taylor Pearson's The End of Jobs, the traditional job or career as we know it is receiving significant pressure from our ever-changing technological and social environment. The transition to a knowledge economy in the 1900s which has become even more prominent with technology has largely shaped the types of work available today.

In more recent years, changes are occurring rapidly by generation. Baby boomers enjoyed a prosperity after World War II which allowed them to secure jobs while having formal degrees. Pearson argues that for today's millenials and gen Z, just having a college degree will not be sufficient. Transitioning from a knowledge economy into a creative economy with entreprenuership has transformed the opportunities and nature of work and overall possibilities.

So in this context, how are you going to fulfill the very innate, longing desire to create? You have real passions. They are on the artistic side. You can't make good money off of it.

I say that you must make on the side. You not only need this day job to sustain yourself financially, you need it to fuel your creativity.

A day job is good, a career is better

The skills and pressure from a career make you grow into a different person.

We have heard of the actor bartending. The artist with the back to back odd jobs.

It makes sense. Let's do something mindless in the day, so that there is creative energy and fuel to produce when we are not working.

There are two problems with this. The kind of atmosphere and stimulus you are getting from a minimum wage job is usually on the low value-throughput side. You are likely not being challenged at all.

Further, you are not motivated to perform in this space because you find it to be a means to an end. A way to make money for your more important work - your art.

Unchallenged. Demotivated. That is possibly the farthest away from any kind of meaningful brain state a human could be in. It’s the state that all media prey on - in order to manufacture all of your desires and make you behave like an automaton.

How does this help you create? Creation is a high mental energy and spiritual exercise. You spending a certain number of hours in the day in mindless work seems to be extremely costly to your true artistic passions (this is not to be confused with moments in your consciousness that have to be slowed down so that creativity can burst). You might even grow resentful in the process.  

What you need is something more. If you have a real career, this is not the time to let it go!  It would be ideal if the way you made money was something you cared about. Not always the case, so looking at the upside of your work is helpful to you in this mental state.

If you are trying to enter back into the workforce after taking time for caregiving, then you will need to take a hard look at what makes money in the current economy, and gain the skills to compete in obtaining them.

Why on earth would you torture yourself into skill acquisition and competing for something you may not completely care about?

Simply because of optimal real-world positioning that you will need in order to avoid a mortality event. You need financial fitness for practical reasons. But what you really need is to suffer through the pressure, roadblocks, disappointments, and idiosyncrasies of obtaining and maintaining a career.

This is where you really grow. Somewhere in the background, while you are expending enormous active consciousness to maintain a career, you are forming unconscious building blocks for creative work. The pressure is building for you to not only create on the side, but create because you must.

Having a day job will keep you creatively fertile

The pressure from the day job will ultimately need an outlet or release. Don't make that alcohol, shopping, social media, or other mindless stressors.

Make it creation!

In the professional world, we are not encouraged to have creative outlets. We are encouraged to double down on our work, which benefits the conglomerate we work for.

Tack on family, a Second Shift, and the cultural expectations placed onto you to manage it all and not complain - suddenly you have the dreaded excuse: I'm burned out, I have no time.

It's true your time is scarce. What if there was a way to make time abundant? What if there was a way for you to have your passion in your life?

Focus on achieving a life, not a career

We have a very linear understanding of how to exist in Western societies. I am going to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer, HR specialist, blah blah. There is enormous pressure to specialize, even after we have tackled these narrow paths of achievement.

What if we didn't think about what do you want to be when you grow up? What if the question was what kind of things do you like doing and how are you going to make that a life worth living for you?

Think about how liberating it can be, to focus on your life instead of a narrow identity. You already do many things as a mother. Mother is not your only identity.

If you are very narrowly focused on generating money from the things that interest you, then a different time type of pressure arises.

Suddenly it’s not fun.

It can become as torturous as having the day job you dislike.

Look for ways to buffer identity

In Brian Portnoy's The Geometry of Wealth, there are many benefits to diversifying your income.

What about diversifying our work?

How would it look to have time dedicated formally for all of your work interests. The output could be streams of income, but also just throughput (e.g. canvas paintings).

I like this concept not only for its practicality, but also to buffer against how you will feel when things go bad in any one of the outputs.

Of course there is something liberating about doing things without the expectation of monetary reward or defined utility.

But wait - how is this not a hobby? Nothing against hobbies, but when you focus on your interests with disciplined pursuit and think about how to scale it, you are already thinking about this more like work than a hobby.

Let creativity become of you

There is thrill in pushing your boundaries as you explore your creative side. It inevitably influences every aspect of your life. Any act of expression is a creative endeavor.

So don’t quit your job. Rethink how you are going to keep the lights on, live up to your responsibilities, and create pure joy in the process.

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