In August 2014, I looked at our household’s situation and said to myself, “I have to get a job.” Taking a day job wasn’t what I wanted to do. It wasn’t because of laziness or anything like that, but because of these things:
- In the past, any time I had a job outside the home, I ended up in the hospital before long. I work too hard (in some places, it was quantified and officially recorded that I did the work of four people), and the stress always threw my chronic illnesses out of whack pretty quickly.
- The fields I am qualified to work in (aside from writing and editing) are full of catty, back-stabbing women. Well, writing and editing can be, too, but it’s a lot easier for me to avoid those people when working at home in my own business.
- Having a day job would leave much less time for me to work on HarshmanServices and to help the people I really wanted to be helping.
- I thought it would put my dreams on hold and suck away my energy and life, leaving me with nothing to put toward my “real work.”
But I wasn’t earning enough working at home; we needed the money, and so I called the local daycare and asked to whom should I send my resume. By the end of the day, I had the job—and two titles there. I became not only the preschool teacher, but also the assistant director.
Day job changes schedule
I adjusted my schedule so that I was writing and editing only from 4:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. every day. Fourteen hours a week is not much! My writing and editing time had been reduced by 50 hours per week, faster than you can say “query letter.” No way I’d be able to get anything done for the duration of this job, right? At the very least, it would take several times as long… I wasn’t happy with the situation, with being forced to go get a day job just because my husband wouldn’t get a job that paid enough to support a family. It was what needed to be done; I did it. I wasn’t letting myself feel anything about it. It just had to be done.
Attitude is important, and I always approach my jobs with a positive attitude and perform well, working my hiney off.
I was so wrong about how things would go. Well, it definitely does leave much less time and energy for HarshmanServices. I was right about that. But I love what I’m doing at my day job, too. It gives me such joy. Also, my health has held up well so far. I actually feel better (and happier) than I have in a long time.
I expected to enjoy my work, because I always have, even when I had fast-food and other “jobs from hell.” What I did not expect was to fall in love. I’ve always enjoyed working with children, but for some reason, these guys are especially endearing. Every day, I belly laugh at least once. Every day, my heart melts because of at least one of them. I’m smiling nearly every minute from the time I get there until the time I leave. I’m always dedicated in whatever work I’m doing, and this job is no exception. I even spend my own money on things for the room, when I can.
Stay at day job a while
I had forgotten how enjoyable and fulfilling teaching and working with kids can be, and how cute and adorable little ones can be. And the things they say! It would be a great book (yes, I hear myself talking here). Walking to work on Friday, the age-old question, “If you suddenly had a million dollars in the bank, what would you do with your life?” occurred to me. Instantly, the answer came to me: I’d buy the daycare and keep working there, and keep the current director on, just like usual, but give it some financial stability so the kids would definitely continue to have a place to be. I’d make a few changes maybe, make sure it’s a safe and fabulous place for the kids to go, and keep working in my room. Oh, I’d probably cut back my hours somewhat to give more time to HarshmanServices, or maybe put in a desk and work on some of that during nap time, but I wouldn’t drop the “day job” from my life. That surprised me, given that before I started the day job, my plan was to do it for as short a time as possible, then quit it and get back to my “real work.” We make plans, and God laughs.
It is different from writing and editing (though I have been editing the internal and external materials that are written there, just as I’ve always been the unofficial (if not official) writer and editor at every place I’ve worked), but it is also fulfilling, and in a more instant-gratification kind of way, too. When you’re working with children, sometimes it takes a while before you see the results of your labor, but sometimes they “get it” pretty quickly, and there’s nothing more heart-swelling for me than to witness the innocent, open nature of children as they learn and love others. It’s matched only by the gratification that comes from helping a writer or micro-business owner with their writing. Two careers, seemingly unrelated, seemingly dissimilar—but they’re not that different.
Planning and patience
When you have to get a day job while working on your dream, try to take the long view. Yes, it will probably mean that you have less time to work on your dream. Yes, it will probably mean that it takes you longer to accomplish something. Yes, it will probably mean that you’re going to be more tired than usual.
Despite these things, you might find that during the few hours you do have for your dream, you work harder and faster and become more efficient and effective. Parkinson’s Law comes into play. Instead of getting something done in 12 hours, you may get it done in six, or you may shock yourself and get it done in two. When you only have an hour or two to work on something before you have to head to your day job, you might get really good at blocking out the distractions. If you’re really smart, you make sure your distractions are still sleeping during those two hours in the early morning. 😉 Just have the self-control to stay focused and get something done in that time. When your “go to the day job” alarm goes off, save your work and get moving. It will be there when you get home.
Speaking of, that’s exactly where I am now. At 6:00 a.m., I stop doing this job and get ready to walk that mile to my day job, in the 19° weather. Tough? Yes, it is. And so am I. And so are you. Do what it takes. I’m here to cheer you on when you need it.