How to Balance Your Passion with Your Paycheck
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How to Balance Your Passion with Your Paycheck

Because you can't just hire yourself for that dream job you want.

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There's a good chance you won't land your dream job right out of college. Assuming your passions don't change and you keep working toward the same career goals, you won't land that perfect opportunity until at least 5-10 years out. Meanwhile, bills and student loans exist and you literally can't afford to reject every gig that doesn't perfectly align with your career goals.

Just because you have to take a job you're not super passionate about to make ends meet, doesn't mean you have to abandon your dreams. Once you clock out, how you spend your time is up to you. This is awesome because it means you can focus on the activities that matter to you and more importantly, it means you can develop the skills necessary to qualify for a job you really want.

If you're thinking ahead, you realize that means putting in hours of (often unpaid) work outside of your day job. There's a reason why it seems like every waitress in LA is "just doing this until my acting career takes off". Judge if you want, but these starry-eyed thespians understand that they need to hone their craft in their own time if they ever want to ditch the diner and take the stage. Whether you want to be a professional swing dancer, learn how to code, or become the next YouTube sensation, what you focus on outside of work can have a much bigger impact on your future career. You have to put in hundreds of hours of extra work into these endeavors before you can start to see the fruits of your labor. Matthew Patrick, the creator of the popular YouTube channel The Game Theorists, worked on his videos past midnight every night after working 10-12 hour shifts at his day job. He did this for months until his passion for internet video could take over as his primary source of income.

If you're like me, you start freaking out when you realize how little sleep Matthew Patrick was getting during his climb. How do you prevent burnout or keep from turning into a hermit? Self-imposed boundaries will ensure that you don't over-extend yourself. Moreso than time management, be strategic in how you spend your energy each day. I run a video game culture website and I found that after work I was too mentally exhausted to write. So now I write from 5-7am before I go to work while my creative energy is fresh for the day. I go to bed earlier in the evening to make sure I get enough sleep. I'm an early bird so this works well for me, but invest in finding that time/place/ritual that makes you feel the most motivated.

Understand that you have to make sacrifices if you want to convert your passions into a career. Whether it's sleep, your social life, or tending to your spice garden, something has to give. For me, I won't sacrifice sleep and I want exercise to be integrated into my busy schedule, so I lose out in the social department. All this means is that I've learned to only say yes to the people I really want to spend time with and no to the rest.

People who know me from college and are familiar with my mantra "Work smarter, not harder" will be surprised to hear that I'm putting in over 70 hours of work a week with a regular 9-5, a part-time weekend gig, and managing Top Shelf Gaming. However, with the guardrails I've set in place for myself, I am able to manage it and actually have a richer social life than I have in the past year. I'm far from a superhuman or a machine; most days I am a potato. At best, I'm just a recent graduate with a dream, who is working on making that dream come true.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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