Lately I have been thinking a lot about my job and how it seems to get in the way of the work I need to do to achieve my life’s goals. However, I need the job as it pays my rent and supports some of my hobbies. So how do you work a job while still trying to attain your goals in life?
How to work a job and still attain your goals in life
Music star, professional athlete, novel writer, home owner… everyone has a dream or a goal that they want to attain in this life. Here are some tips to help you work towards that goal while still working a day job.
1. Sleep when you are dead
“I never sleep cos sleep is the cousin of death…” – Nas
One of the hardest lessons to learn is that if you really want to attain a goal in life while working another job you need more hours in the day. This is probably going to mean that you will sleep less and work harder but getting up early is something that has to be done.
The above quote is one of my favorite quotes of all time and it comes from New York rapper Nas. It is a very profound quote and shows us the link between sleep and death. We have one life to do something meaningful. One precious opportunity. What waste it sleeping?
You can sleep when you are dead.
2. Write down your dreams
When you write down a dream that you have you turn into a goal. You make it something concrete and achievable. A dream is something that is a little bit far out and unreachable but a goal is something that you can actually get to.
If you feel like your work is getting in the way of your goals then write them down. Having something visual in front of you will help you get all those thoughts out of your head and let you calm down and assess the situation. Write down your dreams so you know exactly what you are trying to achieve.
3. Give your goals a time line
The next thing that you need to do to turn those dreams into concrete goals is give them a time line. When you affix a date to some dream you turn it into a goal that is now becoming a reality.
For example, if you say that you want to be able to play the guitar by the time you are 30 you have a much more specific goal than if you just said you’d love to be a good guitar player. By saying that you want to do it by 30 you now have to do the work that is required to do it in time. It is a lot like working towards exams in November – you know they are coming so you do the work.
4. Break them down
One problem I have is that I stress about everything way too much. I think about work and tax and staying fit and then on top of that I stress about when I am going to find time to achieve my dreams and goals. However, I have found that if you write them down, give them a time line and then break them down into smaller chunks the stress really dissipates.
When you think about your goals you usually think about them in macro terms. You think “I have to be a professional writer” and that sounds really daunting. However, if you break it down into smaller chunks you have more room in your head to sort it all out. You might break “becoming a writer” down to something like “finish first chapter of demo novel by September”. Now you have a new goal to work with and it is much more manageable.
5. Prepare in your free time
Let’s say you work nine til five, Monday to Friday. On the weekends you might have four hours free to work towards your goals. You might spend a quarter of that time getting ready to do some work and then that four hours turns into three hours. It’s inefficient.
However, if you used some of those weekend hours to prepare for the rest of the week you might be able to scrounge a few more hours out of yourself. Prepare on the weekend so that you can do an hour before work and an hour after work. Now you have 10 extra hours per week plus the weekends. Things are starting to look better!
This preparation could be anything. It could be cleaning your desk, setting up your writing area, lining up freelance writing resources, getting all the books from the library that you need… whatever. Do whatever preparations that need to be done so that you can work individual hours here and there. Preparation is fantastic because it means you can just go and sit down and work at the drop of a hat.
6. Find a lasting motivation
Sometimes when you have been at work all day and aren’t feeling 100% healthy you lose inspiration. You put off the work until tomorrow and then when tomorrow comes you find another reason to put it off. This is because you do not have a lasting motivation.
A lasting motivation is one that will help you even when you are feeling lazy, tired, stress, sick, etc. It is something extremely powerful and when you find it you will know. I talk about this in the Enlightening Stress Relief eBook.
In Buddhism every action, meditation or thought is supposed to be motivated by something called “Bodhicitta”. Bodhicitta is known as the mind of enlightenment and it is the motivation that everything that you do is for the benefit of all living beings. When you go to work you do it in order to benefit beings. When you go for a run it is for the benefits of others. Everything.
A motivation that is focussed on helping others is really the most powerful reason to work hard. It takes your own ego out of the equation and allows you to focus on your goals and dreams because you truly want to help other people. A solid motivation is essential.
7. Start now
Life takes you in so many different directions. You don’t know where you are going to be in a year, a month or even next week. For this reason it is important that you start working towards your goals right now. Do not put it off for another second. You might live to regret it.
If you feel like work is taking over then try a few of these steps and see how you go. Breaking it down into smaller chunks is a good starting point for those of us who feel overwhelmed. At the very least you should get started somehow. It doesn’t matter how – just get started.