“I hate my job.”
We’ve all been there. You dream about leaving the 9-5 grind behind and launching out on some great new adventure. It sounds wonderful.
But here’s something you badly need to hear: Your day job could actually be the one thing that can help ensure future success in your dream job. In fact, oftentimes the work you dislike the most is the very thing you need to get you to the work you’re made to do.
Remember, your work situation – good or bad – isn’t about you, and you have to be careful to not overemphasize the importance of comfort. There will be plenty of times where you’ll be uncomfortable, and that’s a good thing. After all, almost everything we go through in life helps drive us to become the person we need to be so that we can step into the thing we’re best equipped to do.
Let me tell you a story to help you understand:
An elderly carpenter was ready to retire, and he told his employer of his plans to leave the house-building business to live a more leisurely life with his family.
The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go, and he asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but over time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials.
When the carpenter finished his work, his employer came to inspect the house. Then he handed the front-door key to the carpenter and said, “This is your house… my gift to you.”
The carpenter was shocked!
“What a shame!” he thought, “If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently.”
Let me let you in on a little secret. Whether you realize it or not, you’re building your life and your legacy right now, one day at a time. For some reason we tend to keep our minds on the future and use that as an excuse to mentally check out of our current circumstances. We don’t usually see it in the moment, but what we’re actually doing is building our own house with shoddy workmanship. Sooner or later we realize that we’re the ones that have to live in the house we’ve built – good or bad, and we’re not living in that house alone. Our family, friends, and community live in that house with us, and they’re banking on us building it right.
Let’s not be if-I-could-do-it-over-I-would-do-it-differently people. You can’t go back. You’re the carpenter, and every moment of your life you’re hammering nails and placing boards. Your attitude and the choices you make today are building the house you live in. So build wisely.
A few practical ways you can use your day job to help you with your dream job
1. Learn risk-free
When you jump out there and pursue something new, you’re going to make a ton of mistakes. You’re going to learn things the hard way and experiment with new ideas that lead to failure, that that’s okay. But why not make the most of where you’re at by using it as a testing ground? After all, you’re probably in a pretty safe place to do so. So why not experiment now while mistakes aren’t the difference between success or failure?
Let’s say you’ve quit your day job and your business is churning along when you read or hear some exciting new way to get more traffic, leads, sales, etc. So of course, you go out and spend however long it takes – sometimes weeks or months – trying to implement that idea. That’s the innovative thing to do, right? The problem is, if it doesn’t work like you expected, you just wasted all that time and if you’re a one-man operation you probably just let the other aspects of your business suffer as a result.
Don’t do that.
Instead, learn as much as you can now while you have a steady paycheck and mistakes are non-fatal. Working for someone else might seem intolerable, but it can be your personal free training ground.
So, come up with clever new ideas to improve your day job, look like a motivated employee in the eyes of your boss, and learn what works and what doesn’t before you’re in the trenches of your own business.
2. Take ownership
Part of the reason everyone hates there day job is because they feel like they have no say in the company and no autonomy.
The truth is, you can earn a say in your company and earn autonomy by stepping up and taking ownership.
In other words, make your day job into your own personal project. See some things you want to change? Then change them. Maybe you’ve tried before and things didn’t change, but do yourself a giant favor and try this one more time:
Make a list of everything you see going on in your current job that you would change in a perfect world. Now under each item write down the ideal solution to each of those problems.
If you’re sick of people gossiping, how would you change that?
Miscommunication runs rampant? How is that even fixed?
Now make it your personal mission to bring your solutions to your boss, not just the problems, and tell him or her did you will lead the effort in making these changes.
After they pick their jaw up off the floor, they’ll be forever grateful that an employee actually took it upon themselves to come up with solutions instead of just complaining about the problems.
Why would you go through all the trouble of trying to solve your current jobs problems?
Because your business is going to have the exact same problems.
Maybe not right off the bat, but I can almost guarantee you whatever flaws your current job has is not a new and unique problem. And if every business faces the same issues, you can bet yours will too.
Plus you’ll get an opportunity to be a leader (something else you’re going to have to learn to be an entrepreneur) AND by helping your boss out, you’ll build a pretty important ally that will almost certainly come in handy when you eventually launch your new career.
Which leads us to the next point…
3. Build relationships
Relationships are an important part of life, but they’re an absolute vital part of being an entrepreneur.
Do you want to flounder around for the first year of your business trying to scrape together customers? Of course not. Then you better have connections. I had zero connections when I went out on my own for the first time, and I had to kill myself every single day to find enough clients to keep the bills paid.
Meanwhile a friend of mine focused on building relationships with everyone he could before he launched his business, so when he actually opened the doors, all he had to do was call on his friends.
It didn’t make him instantly rich by any means, but he was able to make a living much easier than I was at first. Plus getting referrals is way more fun than cold calling.
If you did steps one and two, you should be well on your way to building rapport with your boss, who is probably a well-connected person him or herself.
So, spend your time now cultivating relationships with your coworkers and with your boss/bosses. You’ll thank yourself down the road when times get tough.
Finally: See the big picture
Chances are you’re at your day job for reason. Whether it’s money or timing or whatever, there’s a reason you haven’t already left your day job to pursue your dream job or business.
Keep that in mind every single day in order to keep yourself motivated. Step back and look at the big picture every hour if you have to.
As often as it takes, pull yourself out of the here-and-now and look at the real reason you need your day job – at least in the short term. Then think about the 3 ways we’ve listed you can benefit from your day job.
Whatever it takes, keep working towards your dream, but don’t let your ideas and daydreams get in the way of what needs to be done now in order to make you successful in the future.
As bad as it hurts to work your day job, it’s going to hurt much worse when you jump out and try to start your new business or career too soon.
Dave Ramsey says it like this: don’t jump off the dock until you know there’s a boat waiting for you.
And learn as much as you can while you still have a dock to stand on.