Well, if that doesn't sound like the title to a really bad porno flick, then it's good I've got a day job!
In November, I officially started a career with a company that hands out payroll and a W-2 for hours worked. I hear tell they call that "a real job" - but it's been so long since I've had one, I'm still a bit skeptical.
In fact, I hardly ever call it my job. Family and friends ask me how I like my new job and I look at them like they're speaking Mandarin. Perhaps it's an avoidance strategy. I call it "my strategy", "my biggest client", and even "my Sugar Daddy" since it keeps me fed, clothed and financially square. But calling it a job? Well, that still feels weird to me. Although, I do like calling my boss "the boss-man" and "fearless leader" - which I'm not sure he's too keen on yet, but he's a good sport about it.
So why, after all this time, did I get a job?
Patience isn't my virtue. Remember that "marshmallow experiment" from the 1970's where the kids were offered two treats if they'd wait 15 minutes? Well, I might have been able to hold out for 15 minutes, but I'm not so sure. In the experiment, they called the treat a "hot stimulus" - it was the thing the kids wanted SO bad, but if they wanted the double blessing they had to wait.
According to the research, the key to making it through the 15 minutes was for the kids to find something else to occupy their attention: singing, playing, looking somewhere else - anything except thinking about how delicious their treat was!
What's your 'hot stimulus'?
For me, I love is telling great stories by making music, acting, performing and writing. If I could spend my whole day telling stories in front of an audience of some kind, I would (that's part of why this blog exists, you know). But I got other people with expectations: a husband, two kids, a new health insurance plan that kicks in next year. Those expectations come with a price tag attached. It's a price/investment I'm happy to make, but the money's got to come from somewhere.
So I did the math. I invest a lot of time in creating training programs, hosting conference calls, coaching clients, etc. I love all of it, and I'm pretty good at it - but it takes a lot of my time to do it. That's time I could be spending writing, telling stories, singing, acting, or rehearsing.
Contrary to what Tim Ferris' book suggests, being an entrepreneur is not a 40-hour week. It's not a 4-hour week either. Building a business takes a lot of time, energy, blood, sweat, and tears, baby! A job has a start and end time. It's a bit more predictable. Steady. There's a trade-off for that reduction in perceived risk: the payout, while more immediate and predictable, is often less than you might get for investing the same amount of hours in your own project.
But your scope is also limited. Today my boss gave me a warning about worrying about things not in my department. He didn't hire me to think about the legalities of the graphics we use - that's someone else's problem! I have had to think about everything related to building a business for so long that it's nice to know there are some things I don't need to concern myself with - someone else has it covered. Hallelujah!
So a job takes a lot of the stress of "running the business" off my shoulders, and while I don't get the huge paydays I did working for myself, I also don't have to pay for the overhead, legal, or anything else. I get to focus on doing the thing I was hired to do - imagine that!
A job is NOT an albatross...
I can say that now. 10 years ago, I would have looked down my nose at you and said you lacked vision, or that you were lazy, or that you just weren't brave enough to really take care of yourself. I see now how very short-sighted that was. And if I ever did say those things to you, my apologies. Most companies reach a point where they need at least a few employees. If everyone wanted to be an entrepreneur, these companies couldn't grow. Entrepreneurs need employees, and employees need jobs. I didn't see it that way. Not even a little bit. I do now.
In fact, I have a new appreciation for the employed. For me, and several of my clients who are W-2 carrying members of the work world, there's a method to this madness - a strategy, if you will. It's my distraction from my "hot stimulus" - I've got a goal of earning a Grammy nomination, and in order to do that, I've got to put some time in creating more music. I can't do that if I'm focused on creating training programs and coaching and training people all over the world. There's only so much of me to go around. This new job gives me a different kind of time freedom. Plus, I get to travel, so I can scout performance venues while I'm out and about. I couldn't spend a week in Vegas next month if the boss-man wasn't footing the bill.
So instead of rushing my music to market because I "need the money," I can focus on making great music, sharing it and growing a strong fanbase without freaking out about what to launch to keep the health insurance paid. In short, the job makes creating more fun because I'm less stressed about the expectations in my life that require a financial outlay.
It's not about taking any old job, though, or being guilted into feeling "grateful that you've got a job, at least." Um no. There are still jobs that don't cut it, that exploit people, and can make your life a living hell that you have every right to walk away from if it saves your sanity (no matter how much it's paying). If this job ever became like that, I'd walk... even if it meant losing that new-fangled healthcare plan.
My job is my Sugar Daddy
Hugh calls it The Sex & Cash Theory. Essentially, you've got something paying "da bills" so that you can do the thing you love.
I'm clear that I'm not going to work this job until retirement. I told my boss going into it that I was looking for a 2-5 year plan. And I'm holding myself to that. That's the "cash" part of Hugh's Theory. I'm using that cash to take care of life so I can do the "sexy" work along the way. The job funds the dreams, baby. And there's nothing wrong with that.
Where it all falls apart...
The tricky part is staying the course. That is where I started more than 17 years ago. Mom insisted I have the "fallback plan" - which, of course, became "THE PLAN" because life happened.
At the risk of sounding cliche' - this time is different.
I don't see this as my "fall back" - I hold fast to this job as a bridge strategy. The only way that works is if you keep building the bridge - that is, to keep doing the work that leads you to the place you want to be. I don't want to have "a real job" for the rest of my life. As much as I love this work - and as good as I think I will be at it - I know this isn't my end game. It's not why God put me on this planet, and I've set up my life to remind me of that constantly so that I am more likely to stay the course and stick to the strategy.
Know your strategy - and stick to it!
I've got a vision board, theme song, and a supportive group of smart people that help hold me accountable to my vision. I didn't have that before, and believe me when I tell you it makes a huge difference in the level of consistency. Like the marshmallow kids, they all wanted to wait to get double the treats, but the ones that were successful at waiting out the 15 minutes were the ones that had support systems to see them through.
What about you? What are your support systems? How do you stay the course on your plans? Do you have a strategy or a Sugar Daddy of your own? How's it going for you? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!