Finding balance when working two jobs
Does the notion of running two different, part-time, self-employed careers in parallel send you scuttling to your office chill-out zone, or is double-jobbing on your own terms an ambition you’ve secretly craved?
I don’t mean temporary moonlighting, I mean creating two fulfilling working lives that happily co-exist on your terms, even if they aren’t wildly lucrative.
Having a second profession splits your precious time, energy and budget numerous ways. But, if you’ve clocked up some working maturity, it could be time to break a few self-imposed barriers and give it a shot…
A full-time role in London, working for someone else’s big dream, can be uncompromising. You’re lucky if your round trip is 2.5 hours and your pay goes on coping with the fast lifestyle (stress-busting escapes, grooming, travel cards, after-work socialising). You lack time to tackle basic necessities, knackered is your default condition and even if your income is civilised, you barely get opportunities to enjoy it.
Imagine having more control over your time and creating a parallel living from something closer to your ‘calling’. We often harbour suppressed ‘potential’ vocations but we rarely dare to weave them into our grown-up, professional lives. Either imposter syndrome rears its head (especially in originality-praising artistic environments) or we fear rejection and scorn, or we’re reluctant to sacrifice certain comforts.
The Office for National Statistics reports that almost 1 in 5 resident working Londoners are self-employed. Since 2008, self-employed part-timers across the UK have almost doubled. And more of us are getting creative. Who knew that former T-Mobile and Vodafone boss Philipp Humm launched a successful painting career across London’s galleries using his middle name?
Stand-up comedian and financial & tech PR firm owner Julia Streets has been doubling up for a decade.
“When a major corporate stint finished after several years, I asked myself, “if don’t try stand-up comedy, will I regret it’?” I was offered some freelance work and decided it would be an ideal combination. It seems I’m the only comedian who actually enjoys being in an office. All my material is based on observations of corporate life.”
Writer, musician and digital content producer Andrea Mann was Comedy Editor of The Huffington Post UK for three years before going freelance for a second time. She’s since started writing a screenplay and entered local politics.
“Creating a lifestyle that allows you to pursue all your interests is a wonderful thing – and entirely possible. You don’t know what might become the most fulfilling area – or a new potential career – until you devote some time to it. I wouldn’t be surprised if politics becomes one of my dual careers in what is now the second half of my life!
“Life is a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t matter when you shake things up: all that matters is that you do.“
Serial dual-careerist Simon Higgs started out creating websites then randomly got into selling fishing equipment when a client relationship took a surprise turn. “The next thing I knew I was building websites and selling tackle. After a parallel foray into stationery wholesaling, I now run a café and an online fishing tackle company. But at social functions I just talk about the café – it makes me sound infinitely more interesting.
“I rarely get a holiday, but I’m never bored. You do need supportive people around you though because being a dual careerist means that when the going gets tough, the toughness doubles.”
TREASURING THE TRADE-OFFS
They’re right. I’ve been writing and publicising projects for over 20 years (11 full-time), and have worked as a jazz singer for the last 15 (www.zenajames.com ). Writing songs, recording albums and regularly performing satisfies my soul, and I cherish the PR work that’s built its own happy momentum. I adore the variety and the perspective it brings, my time is mine, I live on two part-time incomes and I’m following my musical heart.
Tempting? It depends what you’re prepared to trade…
My weeks are always quirkily different, with laughably unconventional hours. I frequently work weekends, I worry about declining projects, and forecasting my budget is tricky, but I’m doing what I love, twice over. Both roles involve communicating, connecting and a fascination with language and tone. In 11 years of freelancing, I’ve sacrificed full-time perks and long-term security (does it exist?) for the joys of flexibility, head-space and artistic freedom. I’ve also tittered privately at the thrills of my two careers occasionally colliding, like when PR clients have hired my jazz-groove-soul combo to play at their functions.
People crave meaningful work, yet matching our talents with one all-consuming job that completely fulfils our innate sense of purpose is tough. Creating a richer two-career balance, albeit slowly, will inspire an inner confidence that you’re finally marching to your own drum. And that, if we’re honest, is what most people wish for.
Know that money isn’t your only goal. Knowing your purpose is what breeds contentment. Reframe your definition of ‘comfortable’.
Introduce working from home where you can. The freedom is priceless.
Turn your ‘calling’ from a hobby into a regular earner while you still have the day job, then think part-time, then freelance, then get a good accountant!
Brush up skills for your second role and immerse yourself in a supportive network at an adult education college – great for building helpful communities at weekends or evenings.
Remember which hat you’re wearing (always a fun decision at gatherings) if you’re not revealing your double-identity just yet. But hey, why not?
Talk to Eyes Wide Opened (www.ewopened.com), www.jodierogers.com and The Idler Academy for excellent inspiration on career-expanding and better self-awareness.
Schedule decent time off from both careers. Recharging an over-busy brain is vital.