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Living in the Balance (Pt 1): 9 Ways to Pursue Your Creative Dreams and Your 9-to-5

One of the most difficult positions to be in is one where you are trying to get your creative projects or businesses off the ground while needing to secure for yourself a steady income. This dynamic is one that keeps many working in a 9-5 job wondering when they will ever be able to totally and wholeheartedly give their energies to their businesses, side projects, and creative ideas. I know because I have been there. Thankfully, it does not have to be an either-or situation, especially when you are just getting starting to pursue your creative dreams.

Whether your goal is to simply share your creativity with the world through a love project or build a successful business and sustain it, it really is possible to both secure your finances with a 9-5 job and still successfully pursue your creative dreams. In this two-part series, I share how you can strike the balance until you can make a full-time switch (if you so desire).

Below, I share 9 quick tips to help you get your creative projects off the ground while you maintain your 9-5 and keep your income.

9 ways to successfully pursue your creative dreams

1.  Put pen to paper

Before you do anything else regarding your project, you must create a plan. A plan is the one thing (in addition to doing the actual work of course) that will make your creative dreams a reality. Having lofty goals for your creative endeavours is one thing. Being able to execute them is another.

Having a plan will take you through the execution processes and help you consider your requirements, including:

  • what you will need for your project
  • resources you already have and are able to use
  • the actual steps you will take to meet your goals

and so forth. A plan helps you gather your resources and ideas beforehand, walk them through, and in the end, make your follow-through smoother and more effective. It also serves as the blueprint against which you will measure your achievements as you go along. Learn more about the importance of creative business and project planning here.

2.  Do a little at a time

While you will have those moments of sweeping inspiration, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to sustain your project and successfully pursue your dreams using those alone. Sometimes, more important than the bigger picture, is focusing on (and doing) the smaller things that help get you closer to that big picture.

I have found that doing a little bit at a time is a far better option. Small acts of consistency make all the difference. Doing one, two, or perhaps a few things daily (or whenever you have a few spare moments) can really add up. If you are working on building a blog, for example, breaking up articles into smaller posts that you can write a little on each day is a good approach. Whatever your creative project, the idea is to pace yourself and keep the tasks manageable.

3.  Go mobile

I will continue to scream from my soapbox that “there is an app for everything.” Use the technology available to take your creative projects with you and to the next level. Use tablets, smartphones, and other smart devices you may have, pairing them with the countless free (and/or relatively low-cost) productivity and creative apps designed to facilitate your efforts. This is a great way to work during your spare time and when you are inspired, instead of having that inspiration pass or relying on working when you get home (which never usually works as you are likely to be tired and unmotivated).

4.  Switch it up

It is important that whatever you do, you keep moving your projects forward. To keep moving forward, you have to keep working. As most creative projects are multifaceted, when you come up against a roadblock in one area, you can still move your project along by making progress in another.

Ex: using the same example of building a blog, perhaps you are struggling with writing that new article, but you would also like to bring some T-shirts to market using your web store. You can go ahead and start working on some new designs or work on adding that long overdue newsletter feature to the blog and so on.

5.  Keep things in perspective

I can almost guarantee that there will be days of high frustration as you pursue your projects. Chances are you will at times feel as if you are making no progress at all because things are not moving along as quickly as you would like. During times like these, it is important to stay inspired and focused. Remember that even slow progress is still progress! Focus on whatever progress you are indeed making, celebrate that, and keep it moving.

6.  Use your weekends well

Weekends are a great time to get creative. Planning your weekends well (starting with not staying out too late on a Friday night) is a great way to maximise that personal time for your project. Turning in a little earlier on a Friday night and laying off the alcoholic beverages (no one said this would not take some sacrifice) will help you to wake up more refreshed and ready to go come Saturday morning. This, in turn, allows you to be able to tackle a few things creatively before the afternoon arrives. However, if you decide to go about organising your weekends, make the most of the time you have as it remains the greatest chunk of personal time you will have on your hands so long as you continue to maintain a 9-5.

7.  Know what works for you and work it

We all hit our peak creativity at different times of the day. Peak creativity is the time of the day (or night) that you become most creative and able to ‘flow’ in your work. Pay attention to your peak time of day, and try to get in some work on your creative projects during that time.

My real-life example: I find that I am often very creative between midnight and 3 am. So, I work on drafts for my blogs at that time.  I also conceptualise music videos, write new songs or detail new live show ideas, and so forth. When I get up the next day, I can go over what I had put down on paper. I can fine-tune it, discard what is useless, and keep what is useful. In a similar way, you can schedule creative work during your most creative and productive hours, putting pen to paper so you can review the same at a later date.

8.  Manage your 9-5

How successful you will be at balancing your 9-5 with other projects will boil down to how well you manage your time and activities generally. As far as your 9-5 job goes, put some effort into managing your tasks and getting them done using a schedule of sorts. Being able to pace yourself at your 9-5 will pay dividends when you are trying to find that extra energy to pursue your other interests.

9.  Take care of yourself

Taking care of yourself goes without saying. The more you practice self-care: eating well, exercising, finding a few minutes for some quiet time each day, and so on, the better you will be able to perform at work and otherwise. This, in turn, helps you to meet your goals faster and fixes you firmly on the path to successfully pursue your dreams. Look out for my blog 9 everyday ways to turn your health around for some great self-care tips you can easily fit into your daily routine. Make the changes you need to practically take better care of yourself, and you are likely to start seeing results in no time.

Bonus Tip:

Inject Some Play As You Pursue Your Creative Dreams

The pursuit of any kind of goal or dream is seen as serious business, and rightly so. Still, even the most serious endeavours stand to benefit from a bit of playtime and fun. This is particularly true of creative pursuits.

Play is an often underestimated component of pursuing creativity. Yet, creativity thrives in environments that are light-hearted, playful, and relaxed. As such, as you pursue your creative dreams, be sure to schedule some downtime where you can regularly unwind, relax, and have some fun. In this instance, having fun is serious business.

Credits:  Photo by Anastasiya Lobanovskaya from Pexels 

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