Lately I’ve been seeing influencers quote these words “If you don’t build your dream, someone will hire you to help build theirs,”—as if that’s a bad thing.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being “hired to help build someone else’s dreams”—isn’t this the point of starting any honorable business at all, to build your dream while opening up job opportunities for others so they too can chase their own dreams?
I personally find it a great honor to help another dreamer, especially if this person’s dream involves making an impact to an even bigger group of people.
I do understand that Tony Gaskins’ context when he said the above quote is to not settle with a deadend job, to live out our potential so that we don’t spend our whole lives watching others live their dreams at the expense of our own.
The only problem I have with this quotable quote is how it seems to compare “building your own dreams” to “being hired”, as if the latter is a less fulfilling or a less important role.
A little backstory
If you read my Career Page, you know that in the past 11 years, I jumped from a lucrative corporate job to home-based work, launched a few side-businesses, tried out freelance work, basically went back and forth corporate and home-based because of opportunities I couldn’t resist and circumstances beyond my control.
To say that I have enjoyed my career is an understatement. I just love working, really. And I’ve been so blessed to have enjoyed the best of both worlds that I still find myself torn sometimes between wanting to have my own business or going back to the corporate world. I just know I’d love it either way.
That said, as someone who has one foot on both sides of the fence, there are so many things I learned about “being hired” and “being my own boss”. And I want to share them here.
1. You can have an 8-5 job and still live a passionate, creative life.
I know people who have lived their whole lives being an employee, and they’re well and good. Contrary to what some full-time creative entrepreneurs would claim, others are totally happy and successful with their 8-5 jobs. Climbing up the corporate ladder excites them (something I can attest to), having a clear boundary between “work” and “home” relieves them of unnecessary stress, being mentored by industry leaders and working with a team gives them joy, retiring with a nice pension is not so bad of a plan too.
For the first 4 years of my career I maintained a corporate job and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Until now, I still see those years as the peak of my career. I loved my job, and my salary funded my travels and my creative pursuits. At one point I lived close to my office in the city, so even though I needed to work overtime on some days, I would just walk back to my rented condominium unit and be home in like 10 minutes. This set up gave me a lot of freedom to blog, hone my skills, work on personal projects, and take sideline gigs.
The point is, if you manage your time well, you can do your 8-5 job and still set aside 1-2 hours a day or your weekends to cultivate your creative skills or maybe start a creative business. With a fixed monthly salary, you’re also able to set aside budget for your passion projects and carefully plan your vacations and creative retreats.
Keeping your 8-5 job doesn’t mean you can’t live a creative life. You just have to learn how to embrace and make the most out of your unique situation.
2. Having your own business is not better than having an 8-5 job, and vice versa.
Everywhere we go online, we see articles telling people to break the mold of the 8-5 and start their own business or work from home like that’s the key to a free and happy life. Truth is, it really depends on how you’re wired.
Sometimes, being stuck in an office cubicle 8 to 10 hours a day just.. sucks. But when you start your own business, you realize that more often than not, you work even longer hours than when you had a full-time job. Having an 8-5 job is not for everyone, in the same way being an entrepreneur ain’t for everyone too. It’s just a matter of what fits you.
I have a friend who’s a Certified Public Accountant. She’s very successful in her career, and we all know how busy an accountant’s job can be! But she also happens to be a very good baker. She learned to bake bread, cupcakes and cookies, just by setting aside time on weekends to perfect the craft. And now she’s so good at baking that if she chooses to do so, she can actually make a living out of it. However, she loves being an Accountant too (not to mention she’s good at it) so why quit? Baking, therefore, remains as her creative outlet while Accountancy continues to be her chosen profession.
Having a business and being employed is like apples and oranges, or cats and dogs. One is not better than the other; again, it really depends on your unique circumstances, skills, and opportunities.
3. The grass is greenest where God planted you.
And since we’re talking about apples and oranges, we should talk about green pastures too. One of the greatest struggles of our generation is falling into the trap of comparisons. Because of social media (and #feedgoals), we see everyone’s highlight reel everyday, which makes our unfiltered lives pale in comparison.
The illusion that the grass is greener somewhere else is a major source of discontent, something that would kill our joy if we let it, and would cause us to make bad choices if we’re not careful.
Just because this certain blogger quit her job to start a home-based business doesn’t mean you should do it too. Just because this certain small business owner opened a physical store somewhere doesn’t mean you should take that path yourself. Or just because a friend has her feed filled with photos from her business travels doesn’t mean you’re missing out and you should change your career too.
Don’t get me wrong. Discontentment is sometimes a good motivation for you to work harder to have a better life. But the moment you start playing the comparison game, you realize that you’ll never really measure up. And sadly, the grass on the other side of the fence will always be greener.
God gave you unique gifts and experiences that brought you where we are today and prepare you for your future. If He gave you lemons, don’t force yourself to grow apples or oranges out of them. If you have an 8-5 job, go be the best employee you can be. If you have a business, embrace everything that comes with it.
4. Motherhood (or fatherhood) changes everything.
I’m saying this as a young mother who didn’t really anticipate how much motherhood would change my life. My career was everything to me. But when I became a mother, my passion, priorities and preferences shifted so drastically.
Once I imagined myself climbing up the corporate ladder in my pin-striped slacks and stilettos. And then motherhood happened and suddenly I’m working in my pajamas, my uncombed hair in a bun, a few feet away from my daughters and their tubs of playdoh.
The desire to establish my own business, in a way, stemmed from wanting to be around my family more. But when God blessed me with a full-time, salaried job that I get to do from home (which pays the bills and secures my career), I just know there’s no trading this opportunity for anything, especially in this season where we need to have a stable income and to take care of our family at the same time.
My side-hustle will have to stay, well, on the side.
The point is, had there not been little mouths to feed, there’s a chance I’d have taken a different path or made riskier choices. Every decision my husband and I make now involves our children’s lives—how we want them to grow up and where, how to provide for them while being fully present in their young lives, how to stay sane. :)
If you’re a parent, you know exactly what I mean. If you’re single, well, you’ll know eventually. And may I add that if you’re single, don’t be afraid to take risks now while you can.
5. You can not do it all for an extended period of time, so decide what to keep and what to let go.
The truth is, it’s impossible to maintain a full-time job AND to expect your side-hustle to substantially grow at the same time. Let me explain. I’m not saying it’s impossible to do both at the same time, I’m saying it’s impossible to do both for an extended period of time.
If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I had to stop blogging and taking web design clients because, after a year of trying to do all the things, I succumbed to quite possibly the worst case of creative burnout in my career.
Starting a business is a lot of work, and keeping a full-time job can be quite demanding too. If your heart and your priorities are divided for an extended period, it’s only a matter of time before you get burnt out.
So if you ever decide to start a side-hustle while keeping your full-time job, it should be because you’re preparing yourself to go full-time on your business eventually. Otherwise, you will only end up spreading yourself too thinly, which will make both your 8-5 job and your side-hustle suffer.
Take note that this doesn’t only apply to 8-5ers wanting to start a business. It goes the other way around too.
I have a blogger friend who used to have a steady work-from-home job, but she went back to a full-time corporate job because it just makes more sense to her.
I have another friend who owns a business that she can manage full-time if she desires, except she really enjoys her corporate job. So she decided to keep her day job and hired people to oversee her business.
Everyone has a different calling; the important thing is to carve your own unique path, find your purpose, and live the life and career that God designed just for you.
If you’re thinking about starting a business, a trial period is a good way to test the waters. Give yourself 6 months to try out and see if it works out for you, or if the business sustains itself. Or maybe try applying for a corporate job again if you realize you’re more fit for that kind of setup.
In other words, knock and see which doors would open. ;)
When you find what it is that truly makes your heart soar—the kind of work that makes you jump out of bed in the morning eager to start the day—then decide to do that passionately and unapologetically.