If you’re reading this at your day job — and by day job, I mean a place you go to solely pay the bills, a place that doesn’t light you up, a place that doesn’t set your passions into motion or fulfill you in any personal way — I want you to keep reading.
Actually, let me revise that:
If you hate your job, or even worse, have settled for your job, spend your free time daydreaming about a business that marries your passions with your skillset and pays your bills — and you’re wondering how you can possibly keep doing this day after day until you’re ready/willing/able/comfortable/confident in leaving, then I need you to keep reading.
I want you to hear this: It doesn’t have to be that way. You can get out of there before you actually die of misery and save yourself some misery, too. I promise.
This is something I hear a lot with my clients:
“Michelle! I know that this job is a means to an end, but the timeline I set for myself to save up what I need and start working for myself seems like an eternity away, and I honestly don’t know if I can last until then. I really might shoot myself in the face. How did you do it when you were at your day job? Please, help me not go insane or attempt to destroy my stupid boss who keeps giving me boring projects that make me scream into my purse in the bathroom.”
Ah, yes, have I been here.
I would ask myself, “How is this my life?” when I was stuck at the copier for hours (yes, with an “s”), or when I spent 3 hours packing up the office of a partner I supported only to have him ask me – at the very end of the day – to dig out *one* can of orange soda for him. (Don’t ask.)
I took the job specifically knowing the purpose it would serve – namely, allowing me to get certified and build up my coaching business while getting compensated financially and weaving my safety net – but sometimes, it just didn’t matter. The 2 years and 7 months I was there were sometimes more torturous because I knew it wasn’t my path!
So, how can you prevent yourself from totally losing it while you prepare to leave your day job?
Here are a few suggested ways you can pass the time plus tips I’ve put together after doing it myself. (The 10+ years of helping other creative women keep their sanity at the tail end of their day jobs doesn’t hurt, either.)
1. Try to make it a game (especially if you’re competitive!) to help your timeline go quicker. Whether it’s “How fast can I get this done without majorly screwing it up?” or “ If my boss says ‘um’ 100 times this week, then I’m taking myself out to lunch”, it counts. At the end of each week, tell your partner/roommate/mom how many times you “won” that week and try to “win” more the next!
2. Give yourself a visual reminder of why you’re still there/what’s awaiting you, and put it up within constant eyesight in your cube/office, on the wall, on your desktop, etc. I put up my When I Grow Up logo, another client put up a poster she designed, and another drew Post-Its with scenes of what she planned on doing when she quit, like yoga on a beach, for example. If it represents “freedom” to you, then you have my full approval.
3. Find time to leave the office during the day, no matter how short the amount of time, no matter the circumstances. Take a field trip. Call a friend. Read a book. Take pictures. Fake food poisoning that mysteriously showed up for an hour and then left. Know what? They recommend this for people who like their jobs, too! You need air, perspective, and a little bit of time each day to let your brain focus on you — just you — so you can tell remind yourself this is temporary and the good life is coming.
4. Start and end your day in ways that feel good. Instead of just waking up, taking a shower, getting dressed and heading right to work, what can you do for yourself before walking out the door? No need for it to be extensive, especially if you’re not a morning person (like me)! What will take 10 minutes or less, but still be a piece of the morning you actually look forward to? Think about reading your favorite magazine, or dancing to your favorite song, or doing a few sun salutations. Then, ask yourself the same question about the end of your day! I write quickly in my journal and read a chapter of my book before shutting off the light every night– that’s just for me. My copywriter says she indulges in her skin care routine and makes a mini spa in her bathroom before bed. By bookending your days with things that feel good, you’re ensuring you get something out of each day that passes while you count down to your day job exit!
5. Set an intention at the start of every day, and if you can, write or paste it on something you’ll see throughout the day, like your phone’s background or a sticky on your computer. By focusing on just one word (i.e. “friendly” or “inquisitive” or “helpful”), you can have an M.O. for the day – a way for you to more easily fake it ‘til you make it, if you will. (<— Hey, that shiz is real!)
6. Come up with a mantra that’ll help you get through the day. Whether it’s your Giving Notice Day (“January 2nd; January 2nd; January 2nd”) or the end result (“I’m gonna be a dog trainer, I’m gonna be a dog trainer, I’m gonna be a dog trainer”), or a truth you believe in (“I deserve to be happy, I deserve to be happy, I deserve to be happy”) find the words that’ll calm you down and put things in perspective. Just try not to say them out loud in public at full volume, but you can always email me instead!!
7. If you know the date you’re giving notice, start a backwards countdown on your calendar. I did this for the last 4 months I was at my day job (which is when I realized I could give my notice), and I loved sitting down to work each day and seeing that I was a day closer to my goal. It was super motivating, and also acted as my little secret, since there was nothing there but “53 days!” Exciting stuff.
Ya know what, though? Regardless of how you do, you’re gonna do it, and that’s worth so, so much. Make sure that you pat yourself on the back and give yourself tons of credit for making (and acting on!) the plan to begin with! That’s more than most people do, and will absolutely give you a leg up when it’s time to hoof it out of there and shuffle off to become a Woman of the World (<– what I like to call “a full-time entrepreneur”). You can so do it! No horrible panic or purse-screaming required.