On-the-job ADD (Active Dreaming Disorder)
Have you ever had difficulty concentrating or staying emotionally invested in your day job after you’ve ignited that fire inside to pursue your dream? The flames start to rage inside, and you can hardly contain your energy and desire to make it happen. The mental dam that once withheld your creativity breaks, and a gushing torrent of ideas starts to flood your brain with no regard for timing or convenience. Whether you’re in the middle of a project that’s approaching deadline, or in a monthly team meeting, thoughts of how you can bring your dream to reality continue to occupy your brain at all hours of the day. They sometimes even keep you up at night to the point where you ultimately decide to stay up late working on your vision and plans rather than trying to force sleep. You only get tired when you’re back at work the next day. Nothing at the office energizes you, and anything going on there pales in comparison to the rush of emotion, energy, and creativity you get from chasing your dream. You would quit immediately and go “all in” on your dream if you could, but financially you can’t afford to leave.
Love at First Gripe
Loss of focus and commitment at work is a common challenge faced by those who discover their passion while working in a job that is not their calling. You have finally figured out what you absolutely must do with your life, but you still need to pay the bills until you create a way to earn a living doing what you love. Speaking of that four-letter word, discovering your passion is a lot like falling in L-O-V-E. There’s an early adrenaline rush, and your dream seems as if it can do no wrong. It’s so much better than your “ex” (your day job), or we could even say your “husband” or “wife” since pursuing your dream while keeping your day job can feel a lot like having an affair. Squeezing in dates with your dream in the morning, during lunch, and after hours… always having it on your mind… and even sneaking in some internet research, phone calls, or emails during the day can all feel like “cheating” on your day job. “No it’s not!” you say. “My dream is my soul mate. If anything, I’m cheating on my dream with my day job!” Maybe. But even so, there is still a major dilemma that, if unresolved, could end up jeopardizing your livelihood and your dream.
So how can you stay productive at work during the day without dousing water on the flames you have finally ignited for your dream? Here are some tips for maintaining your performance at your “cash cow” while continuing to feed the progress and excitement of your dream.
- Get clear on your personal brand and what you represent in the world – Who are you? More importantly, who do you want to be? What type of character will it take to achieve what you want in life? Develop a concrete vision of yourself and why people should want to do business with you. Then become that person at work in preparation for your dream.
- Identify opportunities to develop skills and relationships at work that will be beneficial to your dream – The jobs we have before we discover our passion are preparation for pursuing our dream. We develop skills, identify strengths and weaknesses, and make connections that will help us succeed once we know what we want to achieve. Take a look at your current role or other roles available with your employer. Are there opportunities in any of them to build skills valuable to your dream, or perhaps make important contacts? If so, take advantage of them.
- Schedule specific times outside of your day job to work on your dream and reserve your working hours for your employer – Developing your personal brand triggers a shift in mindset from being an employee to working for yourself. Ultimately, you work for you, and your employer is your account. They hired “Company You” to do a particular job of value to their company. Performing well and providing excellent service reflects well on your brand. It not only improves your reputation, but is preparation for how you will conduct yourself once your dream becomes a reality.
- When you get ideas at work, WRITE THEM DOWN – Great ideas don’t always come at convenient times. When you think of something to advance your dream, or even for a new dream, document it immediately. Many of us have lost countless ideas thinking they were so amazing we could never forget them. Wrong! If you are as busy as most of us are, a great idea can leave as fast as it came. A good practice is to email or text it to yourself, leave yourself a voice mail, record a voice note, or at a minimum write it on paper (just don’t lose it). You will thank yourself later. Plus, once you have it on record, you can resume devoting your attention to your job and come back to the idea later.
- Remember the benefits of working toward your dream while employed – Having a steady job while taking steps to achieve your dream has major advantages. The biggest plus is that it relieves the pressure to quickly monetize your idea, enabling you to make decisions based on research and strategy rather than the pressure to make fast money. If you need to provide some services or products for free to build awareness and show value, you can fund your dream using your income as you try to get established. You can gradually build a stream of loyal customers and even gather information from them to better service their needs. Another benefit is that having a steady stream of income can enable you to be more stress free so you can relax and enjoy the journey. Can jumping ship and dedicating yourself one hundred percent to your dream work? Yes, it can for some people, particularly if you have planned it out and saved money. However, many people are not in a position to do so without putting themselves and/or their families in serious jeopardy, which can also impact the dream.
Staying faithful when you are in a committed relationship to your job after you discover the “hot guy/chick” of your dreams can be tough. However, if you focus on using your current job to mold and position yourself for success in your dream, the correlation between your dream and your day job should strengthen your focus and commitment to both. Then you can honor yourself, those around you, and your dream. Remember, the things you put out into the world ultimately come back to you, so you might as well sow seeds of greatness.