If you’ve spent anytime online you’ve no doubt come across people like this: “Hi there, I’m Timothy Moneybags and I made a million dollars from my best-selling novel after I quit my job and pursued my dream of becoming a writer!”
While many of these stories are true and can definitely be motivational, this idea that quitting your job is synonymous with finding creative success is just not true. Plenty of people have quit their jobs to become writers and ended up not making a dime, we just don’t hear their stories because they’re probably too embarrassed to share them.
Similarly, stories of people who keep their day jobs, pursue their dreams and find their own personal success don’t seem to be heard as often either for a different reason: It’s not as sexy as someone dropping everything to venture into the unknown.
While it might not sell as well in a Facebook Ad, there are plenty of practical reasons why you should keep your day job if you’re planning on pursuing a creative venture that could replace your income.
Here are 4 reasons why you shouldn’t quit your day job for your creative ventures:
1. Steady Income Means Less Stress
It can be insanely stressful knowing that your creative venture will be 100% responsible for feeding yourself and your family. In a lot of ways, this stress can drain the enjoyment you normally had with your project due to it having to make you money at all costs. Eventually, you’ll find your motivation to try something new becomes stagnant as your fear of disrupting the stability that you’ve built yourself pulls you back to what’s familiar.
If you keep your day job, then you won’t have to worry if your branching out causes your project to fall flat on its face because your bills are already covered. While it’s obviously possible to build something on the side that does sustain you, the idea that you have to quit your job right away, stress out to the point of losing sleep, and then hopefully find success is silly.
You can still work your day job and work on your creative projects at the same time, and keeping a steady source of income will help free you up to explore your passions even if they don’t make you any money.
“There is no downside to a side hustle. There are only benefits to building more than one source of income. A side hustle is the new job security.” – Forbes
2. You Have More Time Than You Think to Hustle
This notion that there isn’t enough time during the day to work on your side project is just not a great excuse. Just ask Gary Vaynerchuk, who systematically has his entire day planned down to the minute. If this man is able to fit an insane amount of time doing what he loves into his schedule every day, you can fit, at minimum, a few minutes in your day to work on your passion.
While, practically speaking, you would have a lot of time in your day if you did quit your job, just look at how you spend the free time that you currently have. Are you pursuing your passion or are you watching Netflix? If you’re like me, you’re probably spending too much time staring at a screen rather than hustling.
If you begin monitoring what you do during your free time, you’ll quickly realize that you do, in fact, have time throughout the week to work on your passion. Over time, you’ll see the time you put into your projects will stack up and you’ll be glad you spent those few hours out of the week working versus watching the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
3. You Have a Backup if Things Don’t Work Out
Let’s be frank: your creative venture could completely fail to make you a dime. The question is, will you still have a way to pay the bills if this happens? As mentioned already, having a steady source of income means less stress for you and a safety net in case your passion doesn’t “stick” in the marketplace of ideas.
Your day job, no matter how boring it may be, provides you with necessary stability that a creative venture might not have right away. So, don’t give in to the romantic notion of quitting your job to “pursue your dreams” if you don’t have that stability quite yet unless you’re willing to take this unnecessary risk.
Be practical, and ensure that your bills have a way to be paid and your family has a person at the helm of their future that is both prepared and stable.
“Quitting a job doesn’t jump-start a dream because dreams take planning, purpose and progress to succeed. That stuff has to happen before you quit your day job.”
4. You’re Free to Experiment Without Worrying About Monetization
As Hugh MacLeod puts it in his book “Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity”, passion projects should be looked at as a separate thing from your 9-to-5 job. The reason being is there isn’t pressure to perform a certain way in order to make money. Instead, the creative person is free to explore different avenues without fear of their project not putting food on the table.
One could argue that this is also why a lot of musical artists come out with songs that sound almost identical to the last song they made. Since the last song sold very well, and they want to continue making a profit off of their art, they’ll take a sort of “conveyor belt” approach to their music and not deviate from the formula that works for them.
While there are definitely fantastic songs produced this way, there’s a kind of commercialism that stains the once hungry and experimental artist before they began profiting off their art, and one could argue that their art suffers because of it.
If one keeps their income generator separate from the creative venture they enjoy, they’ll find the venture to be more satisfying to the soul rather than their bank account.
The best approach, in my mind, is to take a “come what may” approach with your creative ventures when it comes to making money. If you earn anything from it, that’s great! However, don’t let money be the main focus or your artistic expression could be compromised.