If you’re an entrepreneur running your business on the side of your 9-to-5 job, no doubt your life is complicated. You spend 8+ hours of your day physically working at a job, while at the same time, you’ve mentally escaped into the daydream of self-employment where your client list is a mile long and money is growing on trees. You’re there talking with your co-workers, answering emails and trying to let on that you wouldn’t be outta there in seconds flat if you could. But if anyone really knew, they would see that you sent a hollow shell of yourself to the office—a placeholder, a drone—to do the work and collect the weekly paychecks. The real you is someplace else—working, scheming, researching, marketing, learning, reading, networking, and growing your small business.
Sometimes entrepreneurship can feel like a disease. And when you have this disease, it can be really freakin’ hard to work for someone else. But in order to effectively bridge the gap between your 9-to-5 job and the magical land of full-time entrepreneurship that occupies your thoughts every waking hour of your day, the solution might not be what you think.
When I was dying to quit my engineering job 6 years ago, I would think about my side business 24/7. I would live and breathe it. I’d get up earlier and then spend my whole evening up until the very last moment working on my entrepreneurial endeavor. Then every morning at 8am, I’d wish it were already 5pm. I’d wish I didn’t have to be there. So I’d check out. I’d complain. I’d resist. I’d fret. I’d wait and wait and wait somemore for that momentous day when I didn’t have to go back ever again. (Note that there was no complaining when I got my paycheck, but alas, that’s how these things go.)[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]The truth is that you will quit your job when you quit it—whether it’s a month from now or 5 years from now. Waiting, worrying, fretting or complaining will not help you get there any faster.[/quote]
What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was missing it. “It” meaning “life”. I was missing my life. I spent all my time waiting and very little of it actually living. Hours, days, weeks and eventually years were wished away as if they didn’t matter.
Half of my 20’s were gone before I eventually reached my goal and quit my job. But then what happen? Well, I began waiting to be successful. Waiting to make more money. Waiting to find a relationship. Waiting to move out of my parent’s house (which is where I was crashing for the time being). Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. The waiting never stopped. That magical land of self-employment happiness turned into just more waiting and setbacks.
So let me ask you this: What are you waiting for in your life? Are you living in the present moment or are you reserving your happiness for something yet to come?
Last week, I went to a Meetup for the launch of Jeff Goin’s new book, The In-Between, which is a spiritual memoir about what it’s like living in-between the big moments in your life and how to change the uncomfortable moments that you spend waiting for the next big thing into powerful lessons and learning tools. Of course, this got me thinking…if I had known how to practice living in the present moment or “to embrace the long game of life and invest in intention growth during the times we’re waiting” as Goins says, then who knows where I’d be in my life right now.
When you stop waiting for the next big thing and just appreciate the moment at hand, you will be maximizing your happiness. The entrepreneurs who excel at this go much further in their lives than those who don’t. This doesn’t mean you have to be complacent…you should still have hopes, dreams and long-term goals, but at least you’re not trying to bypass the moment at hand and spend your whole life waiting for what is yet to come.
The truth is that you will quit your job when you quit it—whether it’s a month from now or 5 years from now. Waiting, worrying, fretting or complaining (all of those things that I did so effectively) will not help you get there any faster, and they may actually hinder you. The key is to be as happy as you can be during this time…to slow down and appreciate what you DO have, not what you DON’T have. In other words, enjoy the “in-between” moments.
How do you do this? Well, here are 3 ways you can slow down and utilize the present moment to help you maximize the time you’re spending “waiting”…
#1: Learn something new.
This time you’re spending waiting is actually not waiting at all—it’s time you’ve been given to learn what you need to know to take the next step in your life. You can’t bypass it, so it’s time to embrace it and for heaven sake, take advantage of it. Instead of focusing on the misery you feel at work or constantly waiting for the day you can quit, start figuring out what you can learn during this time. Maybe you need to read a few business books, take a class, listen to a practical podcast, improve your networking skills, etc. Or perhaps there’s some knowledge or skill you can gain while still at your job (check out this podcast: 5 Ways to Maximize Your Time While Still at Your Current Job). There are hundreds of ways for you to effectively utilize the present moment to help you grow your business. (Also, check out my post on 5 Ways to Grow Your Side Business While Commuting to Work for more ideas).
Compartmentalizing is all about living in the present moment. The key is that when you’re at work, be 100% present at work…don’t be thinking about your home life or your side business. When you’re at home, be 100% present at home…don’t bring home the workday with you. In every area of your life, try to be 100% present. Put away your Smartphone and don’t check email during certain parts of the day. Your side business won’t fall apart if you don’t think about it for a few hours. Nor will your home life or work life.
If you’re anything like me, you have a tendency to think about your business 24/7 (and you dream about it, too). This is definitely stimulating, but when you do this, you can end up spinning your wheels and getting burnt out. Think about something else for a little while. Fully invest in what you’re doing in the moment, and most of all, don’t forget to find time to have fun and enjoy yourself.
#3: Be grateful.
Yes, I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but I’m going to tell you again…focus on being grateful during these uncomfortable “in-between” moments in your life. Gratitude is one of the most powerful forces on the earth and it’s a tool that will help you in every situation in your life. The life of an entrepreneur is not always an easy one, so it’s important to get really good at honing in on gratitude and looking for the positive in things.
Instead of focusing on what you don’t have in your life, be grateful for what you do have. Whether it’s your health, your family, your dog, your car, your paycheck…whatever it is. Or if you don’t have any of that, you can be grateful for nice weather, the birds, the sun…once you begin looking around, you will find an endless number of things to be grateful for. Try to spend some dedicated time every day focusing on gratitude.