Why I’m glad I have a day job
God…are you sending me motivational fortune cookies?
It took me awhile to catch onto what that fortune actually meant – that in sowing seeds of success, you’ll eventually enjoy a harvest of success. When I first read it, I thought it was like this Vince Lombardi quote:
“I’ve never known a man worth his salt who, in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn’t appreciate the grind, the discipline.”
I’ve always loved that quote. And to be honest, I kind of like that interpretation of the fortune cookie better. You don’t pay a price for success, you choose to go an extra mile or 50, and you enjoy the process of becoming better.
This mindset came in handy on Monday when my part-time office job resumed after a week-long summer vacation. And just as a side note, I’ve come to the conclusion that the First Day Back From Vacation should be an Olympic event because it takes a Herculean effort to complete successfully. Does anything make you feel like your face is going to slide right off of your skull quite like an abrupt return to the real world? I think not.
I spent the majority of the office vacation week staring at this website, so I wasn’t exactly fresh as a daisy come Monday morning. I felt more like the daisy that had been picked by an enthusiastic toddler and mangled to death. Even though I’m glad I spent the week doing something that needed to get done, I still returned to work somewhat begrudgingly, wishing I could just have one job.
But I decided pretty early on that I needed to adjust my attitude because being discontent for no good reason is a) a terrible way to spend the day and b) not who I want to be. As soon as I read that fortune, I felt like I had new motivation. I was going to enjoy the price of success. And I did it by reminding myself of several reasons why I’m glad I have a day job while I’m chasing my dream job:
1. It helps me remember that other people exist and gives me a chance to get to know them
Really. I know this sounds terrible, but it’s true. When left to my own devices I use those devices to get work done. I go into hermit mode. So if I didn’t have a day job – and I know this is true from personal experience last fall – I would type, edit, and create the day away, all from behind a computer screen, all without being in the same airspace as another human. Having a day job forces me to remember that there are forms of life outside of my computer and that I really like people!
2. It makes me grateful for my health
I work at a doctor’s office, so I spend most of the day talking with people who are either sick, in pain, or both. Being around people who do not have good health makes me even more thankful for mine.
3. It gives me an opportunity to practice Rule 5
Office jobs are the epitome of Rule 5 because it’s so easy to cut corners and slack off. No one is going to notice if you veer from the straight and narrow before circling back around to it. At my day job, being responsible for the front desk and for our online presence means that there is always something to do. However, being a freelance writer on an office computer with access to the internet means that there is always something else that I’d rather be doing. Remembering that how I do one thing (choosing to work at work) is how I do all things (having integrity in general) keeps me accountable and in good practice.
4. It makes me a better writer
I am not a good writer when I sit down and write all day. I am a good writer when I go live life and then come back to my computer and write about it. Switching up my daily routine with a part-time job, caring about other people and other people’s projects, helps me to accomplish that.
5. It reminds me why I have a day job…and why I don’t want one forever
Finding the good in every situation doesn’t mean that you’d like to remain in that situation indefinitely, and the same is true for me and part-time jobs. My goal is to make freelancing a full-time career. Having a day job reminds me that freelancing is not my full-time career yet and makes me work that much harder to get closer and closer to the goal. Working in an office, especially in the summer (!), reminds me of the type of lifestyle I’m working towards: one in which I am able to work hard and live life in equal amounts on a flexible schedule.
How about you guys? What is the price of success for you right now, and how are you finding ways to enjoy it?