I’ve been doing freelance for nearly eight years now and for more than half of this time, I have had a full-time job. It was quite the balancing act that can be emotionally and mentally exhausting leading into a burnout. There are definitely not enough hours in the day.
I’ve worked the 9-5, 10-6, 11-7, weekdays, weekends, to come home and work until 2-3am to finish freelance projects. Sometimes the odd schedule worked depending on the time difference of my clients. By the time I had any one-sheets to show them to review, they’d be waking up to my emails, lol. So it worked out in most cases.
But, boy, did I burn out super fast.
It even got worse when I started throwing my personal passions into the mix. When I say personal passion, I don’t necessary mean any ongoing personal projects, just taking the time to draw what I want to draw, or anything that makes Kim, well, Kim.
Now that I do have an ongoing project, it’s definitely become of a battle of the passions, because I have become so emotionally engrossed in my work that I feel bad for losing momentum when and I always try to do my best to make up for lost time if there are any, even if it means I’m allowed only ten minutes to work on it. Now, should I feel bad? Eh, probably not. But it’s a commitment that I don’t want to do wrong at the end of the day. It’s a very delicate balancing act and not everyone can do it right away.
My career goal has shifted, by my own choice, away from being on the box for 8+ hours a day. I did this on purpose because I was starting to see certain aspects of my past jobs clash with my personal work and in the end I wasn’t very happy with it. Having a job that creatively fulfilled me kept me from further developing myself as an artist in the way I wanted to be without any outside influences. So, now I’m doing something “different”—I’ve branched off in another direction.
I personally, in my own humble opinion, think turning your passion project into a career risks you losing creative control. It was relatively a big decision for me to separate my passion and my career. At first I saw it as giving up, but after some checks and balances, I found it to be the best thing for me.
So how does Kim balance her day job with her personal project?
I’ll be frank—it’s hard and I’m definitely tired all the time. I’m not going to sugar coat that it’s difficult. But is it worth it? Absolutely. I’m very strict on myself (different than being hard on myself) and I give myself a loose list of rules to follow every day so I get something done. I utilize my calendar and Google Drive to stay as organized as possible. I prioritize the best I can.
It really comes down to the question of “How bad do I want this?”
I have to want what I want pretty badly and a lot of the time I do want it pretty damn badly. I take it my personal project seriously. I draw and write, so when appropriate, I doodle or write on my phone or whatever the hell I have near me when I’m not at home. Even if I’m not doing full fleshed out pieces, I do my best to get ideas in my head down as fast as possible—no matter what. Honestly, like, no matter what. It’s not a life or death situation, but it’s pretty damn important to me.
However, I have to remind myself to be patient and that I’m only one person, and that it doesn’t hurt to take a few days to recharge. It definitely doesn’t hurt to say “no” to extra projects that I’ve lost “interest” in outside of my project, especially if they aren’t one-in-a-life-time opportunities.
Finding balance between your day job and passion is the ability—most times—to adjust your priorities to be more in favor of your personal projects without it being counterproductive to your career; and taking the time for your well-being, without losing sight of the mandatory responsibilities.