While taking a leap of faith and quitting your job to follow your passion is one way to start living the life you want, it’s not the only way. Making a career change doesn’t have to be a dramatic ‘go big or go home’ type of event. More and more women (and men) are growing increasingly aware of this fact, which is why side-hustles (aka passion projects) are now so popular. If a frantic job search sounds like an unappealing solution to your work woes, here’s some career advice you’ll be pleased to hear: it’s entirely possible to follow your passion and start a side-hustle without giving up the financial security your 9-to-5 full-time job provides. And you can do it without running yourself into the ground. Interested? Here is the best way to follow your passion while working full time.

Get clear on your goal and break it down into small steps

The primary thing that keeps ambitious women stuck in jobs that don’t fulfil them is not knowing how to get started on following their passion. And if that dream career or job feels too far away from where you currently are, the usual response is to do nothing.

Avoid falling into the overwhelm trap by getting very clear on your goal BEFORE making a start on anything else be that entrepreneurship or a job search.

The research on the power of goal setting is overwhelmingly positive and one thing it makes clear is that the goals that produce the best outcomes are those that are specific. So, select a single goal to focus on and then break it down into smaller precise steps. For example, if your overall goal is to become a photographer, you can hold onto the security of your 9-to-5 job’s income and spend your spare time upskilling yourself to become fully employable in your new career field. Small steps would include borrowing a camera from a friend, doing an online course to get familiar with the camera and basic principles, starting an Instagram page to showcase your work, buying a camera of your own, doing a 12-week in-person photography course, setting up a website, etc. Once you have the manageable steps in front of you, all you need to do is focus on completing one step at a time.

Create a timetable

Now you know what you want to do and how you’re going to do it, it’s time to plan when you’re going to carry out the steps needed to take you from A to B. Creating a clear timetable may sound excessive, but it will prevent you from either overworking yourself by spending all your spare time on your passion project or not committing to your goal and procrastinating endlessly. Decide how many hours a week you can realistically dedicate to your side project and then select the days and the time of each day you’re going to put in the work.

Finally, make yourself accountable to someone by sharing your timetable with them. Whether that’s your spouse, sister, brother, mother or close friend, it doesn’t matter. Just let someone know that you’re working on this project and you will be spending X amount of time on it each week and your goal is to reach X goal in 6 months time.

how to follow your passion in a full time job
Get into the habit of waking up an hour earlier than normal and you’ll automatically create extra time to work on your passion project each day

Get up an hour earlier

Lack of time is a common reason for not doing the things we want to do in life. But as the saying goes, if it matters to you, you’ll find the time. A great way to claw back an extra bit of time each day is to get up an hour earlier. You don’t necessarily have to work on your side hustle or passion project during this hour, but by using it to do other things that take up your time during the day, like exercise, doing the food shop, or whatever else, you’ll free up time to work on your passion project later in the day.

Delegate/automate the donkey work

The majority of our days are taken up by repetitive mindless work. Think about what you do in your day job. We’re willing to bet that 50% of it involves tasks you do on autopilot. The same is true for getting started on a side hustle, especially if your goal is entrepreneurship. Tasks like wading through the internet to research places to take courses, interesting events to attend, the best website host to use etc. can be sped up by hiring someone to do the early stage research for you. Once they’ve created a short list of the top contenders, they can send that to you, and you can then use this list to make your final decision. This may sound very extravagant, but virtual assistants are very common these days, and these assistants charge a very reasonable hourly wage for doing these types of repetitive non-specialist tasks.

Using automation software can also make your life easier. If your passion lies in an area that requires digital activity, such as a blog, social media accounts, website creation etc, there are many tools that will do the heavy lifting for you while you go about your daily life. From the likes of Hootsuite and Crowdfire for automatically publishing social media posts, to email providers like Aweber and Mailchimp, which will let you schedule email mail outs, there are lots of tools to choose from. Do your research to work out the best tool for automating those tasks that eat into your time.

Nurture your existing network and contacts

If a career change or job change is in your sights, it’s easy to neglect your existing network because you know you’ll be leaving them behind soon enough. However, that’s a big mistake. Just because you’re leaving an industry does not mean that the contacts you currently have at your fingertips will not come in handy. Many of them will know people in the industry you hope to move to, some will have experience in that industry and can help you prepare yourself for the change, and finally, some will have skills that you’ll need to call on when you leave (hold onto great PRs, content writers, web developers and marketing experts regardless of the field you meet them in you’ll find you need their expertise time and time again). Maximise the benefit of still being in your current industry by looking at everyone you come into contact with each day from a different perspective think about the value they can bring to your new career, not your existing one. And of course, be sure to take down their contact details before you leave because sometimes once that door is shut, it can be hard to get back in touch with anyone who doesn’t have a social media presence.

Are you currently following on your passion while in a full-time job? Let us know your tips for juggling the two in the comments below.

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