Ok. I talk a lot about just jumping forward into your dreams.

Sounds nice in a blog, but when you get in the real world, you’ll probably find another sentiment equally true:

My dream won’t make me money fast enough.

I agree. And it’s kind of a shame.

For example, let’s say you wanna be an author.

Well, if you quit your job and start writing that novel, what happens? Three to six months of drafting. No income.

Four to twelve months editing. No income. A week or six or eighty-three spent shopping your novel around to different publishers in hopes of landing the contract and that sweet advance. No income.

Starting to get the picture? You’re spending between six months and two years pursuing your dreams with no money to keep that roof over your head. (It’s awful nice to have a roof over your head, isn’t it? Especially when it rains.)

So despite all my talk about doing something about your dream right now, there is no shame in taking a job at McDonald’s to pay the bills while you write that book.

I mean, I work a part-time job. I’m working around 20 hours per week at a pizza place. Most of my other time is spend pursuing my creative dreams by learning my craft as an apprentice at The Company.

Part-time jobs are an important tool to sustain your dream, since creative dreams can take some time before they’ll sustain themselves.

Look at Peter Jackson, the famed director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He dropped out of high school and worked a full-time job, using the money to fund his first feature film which he shot on weekends.

So again, there’s no shame in supplementing your dreams with part-time income.

But obviously, you don’t wanna stay there. Eventually you wanna be working on your dream–writing, filmmaking, whatever–full-time, as a professional.

That transition is a process I see in three stages.

First stage: McJob makes all the dough

In the beginning, when your dream still needs training and isn’t making any money, your “part-time” job will do most (if not all) of the heavy lifting in terms of paying the bills.

You’ll still tell people you’re a writer or filmmaker, but there’s nothing yet for them to look at and share with their friends. You’re making strides, but they’re invisible.

Second stage: Sliding scale

At some point, you’ll start making money off your dreams. You’ll get published and smile as the first book sales start trickling in. You’ll start freelancing for website design or get hired to do concept art on a small company’s game. You’ll submit a short film to a contest and win some cash.

All this will be encouraging and “brag-able,” but it’s nowhere near enough money to quit your job.

According to a survey done by the Author’s Guild, only about 57% of full-time authors actually make all of their income from book sales and writing-related work. The rest work part-time jobs as well.

However, what your dream makes should escalate as you work at it. You’ll publish a second book. You start attracting more customers to your freelance work. Your short film is recognized at the Sundance Film Festival and you land a job contract shooting a commercial for a local production company.

You’re going to start cutting back your hours at Pizza Hut to give you more time to work on your dream, now that it’s actually producing revenue.

Third stage: True professional

Now you’re making as much or more off of your dream as you did at Starbucks. You’ve now reached the stage where you can safely quit your job and say to the world that you’re a true professional.

That’s the process as I understand it.

Becoming a professional is like a mother weaning her kid off milk. First, it’s all milk (the fast-food job). Then, she starts introducing solid foods into the baby’s diet while still keeping the bottles handy. Then, eventually, she can wean the baby off of milk and he can eat solid food for the rest of his life until he retires from eating at the ripe old age of DEAD.

Now if you’re anything like me, you don’t want to have to work some stressful second-shift job at a pizza shop. You’d rather find something that’s in the same arena as your dream and work that until your dream flourishes.

As I like to say: “It’s not about the money. The work itself is the reward.”

Well, sorry punk. Sometimes work is about the money, and there’s no shame in working a fast-food job to pay the bills as you pursue your dream in your free time.

So if you want to pursue your dreams but are still struggling to pay the bills, consider picking up another shift.

Or maybe if your little freelance cover art business is starting to take off, maybe work shorter hours at Starbucks.

Wherever you are in the process, I’d like you to take a moment and evaluate.

You can’t give up your dream working 50+ hours at a fast-food place. You’ll have no time left for the dream whatever you tell yourself.

But, depending on where you are, you might not be able to afford to work less than 20 hours a week. Maybe you can just work a summer job and pursue your dream solely in the spring and fall. Evaluate your financial and dream situations.

Pray about it, try to find the elusive balance that even Jedi fail to achieve.

There’s no shame in working a part-time job at McDonalds.


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