Confession: I live a double life. Half the time I’m a brand strategist to major corporations. The other half of my life I write books, blog, and give speeches. In Los Angeles (the land of double lives), I know a lot of people who split their time between two careers. By day they wait on tables, pick up someone else’s dry cleaning (and sometimes their kids), answer phones, lick envelopes, and make you a latte just the way you like it. At night, they do stand-up at a local comedy club or sing at open-mic night at a funky little bar. They pursue their dreams by going to auditions, knitting high fashion baby clothes, putting together awesome gift baskets for pets, or designing greeting cards. Every one of these talented souls has a dream and they make ends meet while waiting for the world to notice. That’s because building a personal brand requires a concept, contacts, and capitol--meaning that you do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do.
Maybe you don’t live in LA, but you live a double life nonetheless. Perhaps you’re like my friend Vivian, who is a vice president of marketing at a film company, but her real passion is in writing and selling plays. Vivian’s dream is to see one of her plays produced on a Broadway stage. And she does more than just dream it. She gets up early every day, goes in to work, and from seven to nine every morning, she is a playwright. She’s been learning and polishing her craft, keeping her dream alive, speaking about it to friends and colleagues, and writing and producing plays in local theaters. She's been manifesting her dream.
Vivian could go anywhere in business. She’s the best, and like cream, she would just naturally rise to the top. But her real true objective is to write for the stage. Why not give up the nine-to-five routine and go all out for writing? Because she's a single mom whose greatest passion of all is her 5-year-old son, and whose personal mission is to provide a safe and nurturing environment for him. So she does her best in business, but she doesn’t let her dream diminish. She moves laterally instead of up the ladder at work, and in this way she preserves her priorities.
There are lots of people leading double lives to this degree--they love singing with their band but have mouths to feed or other responsibilities, so they work at a record company by day and sing in a local club at night. Or they work tirelessly at an accounting firm to save up enough money to start their own business management practice. Or they quietly pursue an education course at night--all in pursuit of reinventing themselves. They know it's up to them to set their dreams in motion.
The big question is should you lead a double life or just chuck your day job and pursue your dream full-time? To find the answer, record everything you want from your career.
• What do you want financially, what do you want materially?
• What does “living well” look like to you?
• What do you want emotionally?
• What would you really, truly like to be doing with your life?
Forget about your current career for a minute. Dare to have dreams. And then dare to let them come true--even if it means living a double life like my friend Vivian does.
Taking the leap to pursue your dream full-time is all about measuring risk vs. responsibility. If you give up your day job, you will be able to laser focus on what you want. However, what you want has to make you money. Before I left my corporate job and started my own ad agency, I wrote a business plan, secured a major client, and cashed in my company stock. I had a net so I wouldn’t fall on my face.
If you are standing on both sides of the fence, my best advice is to do everything you can to closely link your dream job with your day job so that your energy isn’t depleted into two totally different directions. If your dream is to be a fine art painter--then work in a gallery, volunteer for major art events, and paint houses if you have to, but don’t do something that will diminish your self-esteem or eat away at your soul.
Robin Fisher Roffer is a leading brand strategist and reinvention specialist. Founder and CEO of Big Fish Marketing, she is the author of Make A Name For Yourself: 8 Steps Every Woman Needs To Create A Personal Brand Strategy For Success, The Fearless Fish Out Of Water: How To Succeed When You’re The Only One Like You, and Reinventing Yourself: 10 Steps To Shifting Your Career Into High Gear. Learn about her Reinvent Yourself! Workshops at http://relevanceinstitute.com/