Why You Should Keep Your Day Job While Pursuing Your Dream

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Take the pressure off your passion.

Woman looking upwards against a pretty tiled background

You’re finally ready to go all-in with your business. You’re going to quit your job, turn an unused room into your makeshift office and hit the ground running, with all the time in the world to finally make it happen. Hold on a minute there. As much as we think it might be more helpful to our side hustles to give them the ample time they deserve, some research shows otherwise.

In the study, Should I Quit My Day Job?: A Hybrid Path to Entrepreneurship, the results of interviews with thousands of entrepreneurs showed that those who kept a full-time position while working on a side project were 33 per cent less likely to fail in their start-up. All-in might seem like the best chance to get your ripe idea off the ground time-wise, but one big consideration is the pressure to make money (and fast) that leaving your day job will bring. Considering you’re now putting full financial pressure on something that may have begun as a creative or more fulfilling endeavour, you might find it quickly loses its sheen when you’re hustling for rent money.

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The “barbell strategy”, as explained by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book Antifragile, is a more helpful way to approach your dedication to your side project alongside a job.

A barbell, with two equal weights on opposite ends, the ultimate image of stability, perfectly demonstrates the way Nassim thinks aspects of your working life should play a “dual attitude of playing it safe in some areas and taking risks in others.”

Having a side project while doing the full-time grind has other benefits too. Former JP Morgan vice-president turned Grammy award-winning producer Kabir Sehgal (and Naval Reserve Officer) is the poster child for a varied career. In addition to his current role as a corporate strategist at a Fortune 500 company, he’s also still heavily involved in music production and the armed forces, as well as being a published author.

“In my experience,” the entrepreneur writes for the Harvard Business Review, “it’s rare for such people to actually make the leap [to a job they’re passionate about]. The costs of switching seem too high, and the possibility of success seems too remote.”

He urges us to ask, instead of the natural ‘how do you find the time?’ question, ‘why?’

“Quite simply, working many jobs makes me happier and leaves me more fulfilled. It also helps me perform better at each job.”

Here are three main reasons why you might consider keeping your day job while taking on your start-up.

You’ll find fulfilment
So, you’re an accountant but you love baking. Baking might not necessarily be all that satisfying to you once you’re making 20 lemon tarts all day every day, so why not gain fulfilment while keeping the stability of work along for the ride? Not all your happiness can be pegged on work, so doing the mundane and exciting concurrently can keep contentment and security perfectly balanced, leading to a deeper, more long-term happiness.

Your full-time will pay for your free-time project
If you’re like many other start-up owners, you might be a little strapped for cash. So why put the pressure on? Best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert took all sorts of odd jobs during her early writing career to keep financial strain off her creative endeavours, and this might work perfectly for you too, depending on your side project.

Your innovation pool will widen
You might find as soon as you start a side project, your full-time fulfilment will increase, simply because you’re fresh with a new perspective. Working across several projects will force you to become more innovative in your thinking, especially if your passion is in a completely different field to your everyday work. Start to bring some ideas from the outside in – you never know what new pathways might open up.

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