Welcome back to our collaboration with our friends at BUNCH Magazine! Over the next year, they will be sharing some of their infinite wisdom by answering pressing questions about career aspirations, transitions and callings. We welcome their knowledge on the creative, professional and entrepreneur space, and think you will love their insights as well.
I am a 36-year-old freelance creative. Currently I dabble in almost anything and everything to pay the bills: design work, photography, editing, styling, you name it. While I am grateful to have work, I am starting to feel like a jack of all trades and a master of, you guessed it...none. In addition, I fear I am suffering from freelance burn-out. I don't think the corporate world is for me, but I am currently questioning whether or not I can handle a career of random jobs that barely make a living wage.
I guess my question is this: how do I now when it is time to give up the dream? Am I selling out if I return to a "safe" and "predictable" career? Should I try to pick one of the aforementioned paths and solely pursue it, or throw in the towel completely?
Overwhelmed and Confused
Dear Overwhelmed and Confused,
I personally don’t think it is ever time to give up on the dream. If anything, there may be a time to step back from it, regroup, analyze, and MAKE A PLAN. If that plan means getting a part-/full-time job for a limited amount of time to relieve the immediate stress of making a living, then do that. That could be great while trying to figure out what area you want to focus on and how it’s going to work. Do that knowing that it’s temporary and serving a specific purpose for your dream.
Another way this plan may look is to continue doing varied jobs, paying close attention to what projects have you jumping out of bed to create and somewhat come naturally to you. I would focus on that one (or two max) and carve out a plan based around that. Most creatives are "slashies" (having multiple skill sets), but the most successful ones start off focusing on a main thing and use those others as creative outlets or find a way to enhance the bigger dream with those other skills/passions. I look at it as having a major and a few minors. Your major is what you associate yourself with, show most of the work for and showcase so you can attract more of that work. Your minors are there to enhance your major. It’ll take practice to understand how they flow together for your personal business, but once you do, it will be magic. Again, these things take time, but making a plan is the most important part. Sit down and write out your passions and goals for the future. Make sure to dream big, but start practical.
Also, it’s really helpful to connect with people who are living a lifestyle you want and ask about their journeys. I personally think we were all put on this earth to follow the gifts we have and the passions of our hearts. The hardest part is finding that flow of how to do what you love and make money doing it, which thankfully comes naturally once you get into your groove.
I think you’ll know it’s time to step back from the dream when you are constantly hitting a wall--for example, when you’re trying new things that aren’t working, you aren’t fulfilled with anything you’re doing, you feel burned out, or let’s be honest, absolutely can’t afford to live the dream anymore. It’s totally normal and okay, but when you understand that stepping back is temporary and an awesome opportunity to reconnect with the roots of why you love doing what you do, you’ll be able to have more confidence in your journey and find a way to keep pursing your goal.
Creative Director / BUNCH Magazine
p.s. Do you have a pressing career question? Looking for advice on the next step in your professional path? Email us and we may share your letter here next month!