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Creativity Coaching

How to Get Your Day Job to Leave YOU

When you're ready to leave your day job behind and pursue your art.

By Durga Walker / Jori Keyser | Updated February 6, 2019

Surviving your day job is all well and good, but what if you're ready — or want to be ready — to leave your day job behind and pursue your art? Believe it or not, the most profitable way to leave your day job is to make it leave you.

And now, you say, she's really lost it. What kind of fantasy world does she think we live in?

I'll tell you: We live in a world where we create our own circumstances every day, whether we're aware of it or not. We may not be in control of external events, but we're absolutely in control of how we respond to those events, and our response to events creates our circumstances.

When Hurricane Katrina leveled New Orleans, stories abounded of the various responses people had to this undeniably external event. Some sat down and sank into despair. Others took the matter in hand and created something new. I just read a story about a high school student who refused to take Katrina lying down; he immediately started up a removal business and began the daunting task of cleaning up other people's property, helping himself and everyone around him at the same time. Two different responses to the same external event, and two different sets of resulting circumstances.

No matter what your present situation, you can choose to act on your environment and yourself in ways that will get you moving in the direction you want to go.

Naturally outgrow your present position

You do this by being larger than your present position — by doing everything that can be done from where you are and doing it in a way that creates success. Be consistent, and with time your day job will slip from your shoulders like an old snake skin.

This is what I mean by doing things in a way that creates success:

Define your vision and set your goal

I do tend to bang on about this, and with very good reason. If you don't know what you want for yourself, the Universe can't possibly give it to you. You must have a crystal-clear idea of your dream and then turn that dream into a goal. If you dream of being a professional photographer, visualize your darkroom or digital system, see yourself on assignment. Smell the chemicals, hear the whirr of the mechanism. Write it all down as fully as you possibly can. Now set a goal that grows organically from your vision, such as being published in a travel magazine by thus and such a date, or showing in a gallery. This is your stepladder out of your day job. Don't worry if you can't see how to achieve it; that will reveal itself with time.

Hold your goal

As you go about your job, hold your goal in your "presence," so to speak. Be aware of it throughout the day. "Be" a published novelist as you deliver the mail or sweep the warehouse. Spend some of your off-work time envisioning your goal. Taking 15 minutes three times a day to relax and visualize is a good practice. By doing this, you're differentiating yourself from the people around you who have no dream. You're imbuing your presence with a new quality. For a while, you'll be doing many of the same things at work that you've been doing, but you're beginning to do them in a different way. You're setting the stage for over-filling your present position.

Act on your current environment

Don't wait for circumstances to change before you act. This is precisely the wrong way round. Act on your present environment by taking the most obvious steps from where you are toward attaining your goal, even if they are the smallest steps imaginable. Take the goal you've set, break it down into smaller tasks, and begin immediately. Make a phone call and request information, draw up a plan (even if you can't enact it yet), create a space to do art at home, sign up for a course. With every step you take toward your destination, your circumstance will alter and new opportunities will present themselves. Act now.

Do small things in great ways

Any time we feel negatively about a given situation, we're prone to slide into an uncaring attitude. Don't fall into this trap or you'll lose your day job for the wrong reasons. Instead, complete all your tasks with an air of greatness. Do everything as well as it can possibly be done, and better, even if you're the only one who notices. One client of mine arranges his workplace with the greatest of care and then takes beautiful photographs from surprising angles. Go the extra mile for your co-workers by doing additional filing or cleaning up the coffee station. Carry out each of your tasks thoroughly, down to the last detail. Use your imagination to make your workflow more efficient. With this, you're creating a quality of greatness in your life, just as you strive to create it in your art.

Embrace increase and expansion

Everything in the Universe is naturally growing all the time. In fact, keeping things from overgrowing requires quite a lot of effort. We're constantly whacking down tree-high weeds and hauling off mountains of clutter. Yet we manage to habitually repress our own growth. Your desire to create a more fulfilling life for yourself is as natural to you as bearing acorns is to an oak tree. Visualize yourself as part of this abundant planet and feel the creative force flowing through you. Embrace this wonderful aspect of yourself and revel in it. Let an awareness of increase and expansion fill every pore of your being until it is second nature and enhances each move you make, even in your day job.

Act with purpose

This is the linchpin, and an author named Wallace D. Wattles said it best: "Every act can be made strong and efficient by holding your vision while you are doing it and by putting the whole power of your faith and purpose into it."* The force behind this enriched action cannot be overstated. Don't make the mistake of envisioning in one place and acting in another. Know with all your heart and all your soul, as you answer the phone to take another order, that you are the ballet choreographer you dream of being. Fill each act with the certainty of your purpose and you will move from your present situation to a better one just as surely as day follows night.

Be consistent

The effects of such action are cumulative. Don't let yourself be discouraged by a seeming lack of results. It will take a little time to change a situation that was a long time in manifesting. Set your goal and hold it in your mind, act on your environment now, do your small things in great ways, and change your attitude so that it works FOR you, not against you. Now call upon your skill and discipline every day to make promises to yourself and keep them. Hire a coach. Or form a partnership with another creative soul and hold each other accountable. The main thing is to continue putting one foot in front of the other. When the acorn is ready to fall from the tree, it will fall. Have no doubt about it.

Give and receive with gratitude

You are a blessed being. Be grateful for all the wonderful — and possibly not-so-wonderful — things in your life and pass your blessings on. We get what we want by giving others what they want. Look to see how you can put this principle to work in your life. But remember that it's not necessary to hurt yourself in the giving. If you're temporarily short of money, you can share with others what you know and what you do. Nurture an attitude of generosity and giving will come joyfully. Don't be afraid of competitive co-workers; it's not possible for anyone to take away from you what is rightfully yours. Share your experience so that others can also be creative in their work. It will make the planet a nicer place to live. And give thanks for everything, every day.

Outgrowing your day job will demand from you a deep commitment to your dream, and it will call on your fullest powers of creativity. It will ask you to be disciplined and to use your will to meet and overcome difficult challenges. But your present circumstances will without doubt be replaced by new ones. Stay with it and believe in yourself — the results will change your life.

* Wallace D. Wattles, The Science of Getting Rich, reprinted by Life Success Productions, 1996.

©2005 Durga Walker / Jori Keyser. All rights reserved.

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