Are you stuck in a dead-end, mind-numbing job? Afraid that you’ll be stuck there forever? Never find your passion and finally launch your own business?
Here are some of the most common things I hear from people working 9 to 5:
- I can’t afford to quit because I have bills to pay.
- I don’t have time/energy to work on my business.
- I don’t have time/energy to find my passion.
- I don’t know how to make money from my passion.
Any of these sound familiar? I was using these the same excuses for 5+ years.
Just a few years ago I was stuck working for a company doing 3D Architectural Visualizations that I really didn’t care about.
Every morning I felt like I could do more meaningful work, only if I had a chance to work on my business instead. But there was no time, no idea what I wanted to do, no idea how to make money from it. My dead-end job was always an obstacle to finding my passion and launching my business.
Fast forward to today, I’m running my successful coaching business and writing the articles that I’ve always wanted to.
So, what changed?
The main thing for me was not using “the job excuse” anymore. Not waiting for the “perfect time” to start taking action. Instead, I asked myself, “How can I use my job to help me start a business?”
That made all the difference.
After changing that belief, it took me just a few months to do it and eventually be able to quit the boring job.
Here are the 5 key mindset shifts that helped me make the transition.
Learn New Skills for Free
In every field of work, there are new skills that you can learn. Whether it’s IT, retail, or working at McDonald’s, you can use the experience from your past job in your new business.
I used to think that the skills I was learning in my job will be useless in the future. I was doing a highly technical job, learning a very complicated 3D software and I couldn’t see how that will help with what I really wanted to do (personal development).
Looking back now, learning that skill was one of the most valuable lessons. Not because I’m going to apply any of it technically, but because of the confidence that it gave me. After learning something so complicated, now I feel I can learn anything. Most technical tasks in my current business seem like a breeze in comparison.
Even if you can’t apply the highly technical knowledge from your job directly, the extra experience will help in anything new that you undertake.
Diversity Is Important
Many of the people we consider to be geniuses are rarely experts in just one category.
Take Leonardo da Vinci, for example. He was good at drawing, architecture, engineering, anatomy, gravity, science, etc.
Diving deep in so many different fields gives you a unique perspective. It allows you to see things in a different way than the experts that are focused in just one field.
Being an expert in different categories gives you a lot of metaphors and analogies to work with. Often two completely different areas work in very similar ways. Having the wiring in your brain of how something works makes it much easier to learn a seemingly new skill.
You Can’t Connect the Dots Looking Forward
In one of my favorite speeches, Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backward.” This was exactly what he was talking about.
You can never know in advance how the skills that you’re learning presently will help you in the future. You have to trust that what you’re doing right now will make a difference somewhere down the line. You can only see the benefits of the things that you’ve learned in the past.
As a part of my job, I also had to learn how to use Photoshop. Besides being able to put my friends’ heads on porn stars’ bodies (a very valuable skill to have), nowadays I can easily create any graphics myself. Instead of having to pay a designer every time, I can quickly whip something up myself.
Another very technical thing was having to learn a 3d scripting language. Again, at the time I didn’t see any practical application of this in my future career. However, now that I have experience with scripting I can easily edit my WordPress PHP and CSS files.
In my 5-year job experience, I also had the chance to be a manager of a small group in the company. I didn’t really enjoy it since my main responsibility was maintaining the quality of products that I didn’t care about. But looking back, the managerial experience and “people skills” that I got are going to be invaluable in the future. Both for working with clients and any future employees that I might hire.
Working for that company gave me the chance to learn and make mistakes that I didn’t have to pay for. Yes, it was my responsibility, but if I made a mistake ultimately the company had to take the hit.
If I didn’t have those lessons from the job, making those mistakes in my own business would have cost me dearly.
Learn How to Do Business
You can’t figure out what people will pay you for just sitting at home thinking about it.
Even if you don’t like the job you have now, it’s still a working business. It still makes money. You can learn a lot about doing business by delivering value that people pay for, regardless of the field you are in.
This was another great lesson that I also got for free — thinking about my products/services from the customer’s perspective.
Back then I really liked creating beautiful and cool looking images. But none of the clients were happy with the result and required multiple corrections every time. In most cases, the corrections made the image look terrible. From my perspective, the clients made bad decisions and didn’t know what they were doing. However, they really didn’t need the images to be beautiful and cool looking. They needed their architectural work to be represented accurately. Beauty was second priority.
So now for any new products, I first start with the customer’s perspective. Without that lesson, I would have wasted countless hours creating products for that people didn’t care about.
Build Business Connections
Another huge opportunity while having a job is the connections and relationships that you can build with co-workers.
Since the company I work for had 100+ employees, I had a chance to meet people who were masters in a wide variety of skills.
- Training & Coaching – Through the company free trainings I connected with an expert business trainer that to this day is still helping me with my coaching business.
- Video Editing – I connected with professional video editors, which I can ask for help when creating a video training.
- Hardware – I connected with a professional tech guy that I can always ask for hardware support.
- Coding – I met a great software developer that I can rely on to help with any advanced coding that I need on my website.
Imagine that I tried starting my business before meeting all those people. I would have had to pay for all these services or try to do them myself.
But even if the people you connect with can’t help you with their specific skills, it’s still great to have the contacts. Being connected means having a stronger business. You can use all of your connections from your job to get feedback on your new products and possibly get them to be your customers.
So if you currently don’t like your co-workers and think there is no point to connect with any of them, ask yourself how they can help you with your future plans.
Having Financial Stability
You might feel like money is the reason you’re stuck in your current job, and that’s why you can’t start your own business. Only if you didn’t have to worry about money for a while, right?
Well, that’s just another excuse.
I didn’t start to appreciate the financial stability until I talked to a friend who was also working on creating a business. He already had his own blog and was working on growing it. But at the same time, he had to make a living somehow.
He worked as a freelancer and had a few side gigs to make some money every day. But that took a huge amount of energy. He told me that he’ll feel much better if he had a simple 9 to 5 job with a stable salary so he can stop worrying about money for a while.
He wanted to get a job so he can start working on his business more effectively.
If you currently have a job that you don’t really like, are you appreciating the stability and peace of mind from knowing where your next paycheck is coming from? Or are you still complaining about your 9 to 5 schedule?
Do you think you would do better if you had all the time in the world but didn’t know how to pay your bills?
Build A Cash Cushion
Instead of blowing your whole salary on stuff you don’t need, create a budget (ynab.com) and start building a cash buffer. That will give you a lot of confidence and stability when you decide to finally leave your job and fully commit to your business.
Before I finally quit my job, I spent about a year saving up and building a nice cash cushion. So the day I quit I had enough cash to live on for a year without any income. In that case, if my business took a nosedive for a few months, I could still keep living the same lifestyle. Even if my business completely failed and I had to quit, I still had a whole year to find another source of income without running out of cash.
Invest in Your Future Business
Since I had a stable salary, I could also afford to invest some of that money in my future business.
I’ve invested in good hosting and a website. I bought training on WordPress/CSS and hired a coach to help me build my business.
I wouldn’t have been able to afford any of that if I didn’t have a stable salary.
Use Your Job to Find Your Passion
You’re not going to find your passion sitting on your ass thinking about it all day. You can only do it by trying a lot of different things. Having a job is a great way to find out what you like doing.
A few years ago I was so determined to find my passion that I took a few weeks off work just to sit at home and think about my passion. You probably guessed how that turned out – I didn’t come up with anything meaningful.
On the other hand, on my “dead-end” job I’ve had the chance to work on many different projects and tasks. Even though I didn’t like most of them, I got to learn a lot about myself. What I liked and what I didn’t like.
Each of those boring projects was a pointer in the wrong direction. I knew what I didn’t like doing which further clarified what I would like to do and what my passion truly is.
What do you love doing in your job?
Passion isn’t just about one singular purpose or mission. I believe passion also comes from loving the small activities in your day-to-day work.
To be really passionate about your work it has to be intrinsically rewarding. You should love the tiny actions in your work simply because you like doing them, not just for getting the end result.
Working for 5 years in the same company allowed me to discover a lot of small things that I love about work:
- I love working with a computer — just the feeling of typing on a keyboard and clicking with a mouse feels satisfying to me. I can work on technical stuff for several hours without getting tired.
- I love complex problems — solving a very complex problem is very rewarding to me.
- I love optimization — creating a faster workflow, removing bottlenecks, or learning hotkeys.
- I love working with data — every time I see a chart, graph, or an analytics page I get excited.
All of these seem very insignificant on their own, but they’re all clues to my passion. I wouldn’t have been able to learn about any of them if I weren’t doing projects for my job. Even though I didn’t enjoy the projects as a whole, I found some aspects of the work that I was passionate about.
What part of your current job do you enjoy doing? Even if it’s something very little and seemingly insignificant?
Lessons from The Masters
Here’s a great piece of advice from China’s wealthiest person, Jack Ma:
- Before you are 20 years old — be a good student, just get some experience.
- Between 20 and 30 — follow somebody, work in a small company. Learn about the company’s passion and dreams. Learn to do a lot of things at the same time.
- Between 30 and 40 — think whether you want to work for yourself and if you really want to be an entrepreneur.
- Between 40 and 50 — you must do all the things that you are good at.
I think age is really irrelevant here. It’s all about getting that experience before you can be a really effective entrepreneur.
Here’s another great model from Robert Kiyosaki:
- Employee — Otherwise known as a job
- Self-Employed — Small business owners or self-employed
- Business Owner — Businesses that are selling products and predefined services.
- Investor – Investing in other people and businesses
The important thing here is that you can’t really skip steps. You might feel really successful if you start as self-employed or a business owner right away, but you would have skipped very important lessons from the previous step.
There are critical things to learn before as an employee before becoming self-employed. It’s really valuable to have the employee’s perspective and know how your future employees will behave and what their motivations are.
So don’t feel like you’re wasting your time as an employee. No matter how mind-numbing and repetitive your job is, there is always something to learn from it. Something that will help you get more experience and that experience will be invaluable when you finally become a business owner.