Hint: It has nothing to do with 9am to 5pm.
What do you do with your free time Monday through Friday?
Assuming that the average corporately-employed person finishes his/her day job around 6 pm and goes to sleep around 11 pm, there are 5 hours each day where rigid responsibilities suddenly take a nose dive and you find yourself with more choices than you normally do.
Ask yourself, are you taking advantage of this time? How do you spend these hours?
Now, let me ask you this. Do you find yourself complaining a lot? Complaining about work? About life? About how it’s not fair that so-and-so is x and you are not, etc.?
I hate to break it to you, but if you said yes, that is utter bullsh*t.
Now, I understand that one’s weekdays vary drastically by life stage and other responsibilities, but for myself and my millennial peers, those post-work hours are ripe with life-altering opportunity.
What you do in the hours after work fundamentally determines the direction of your future. There’s no way around it.
While your career is largely confined to traditional work hours and the effort you put forth within that context, achieving your life’s larger success is not determined during that time. It is not dependent on office politics, randomness, luck, red tape or any other elements of day jobs.
It is 100% on you.
Ask yourself. Who do you work for? Your boss or yourself?
You work for you!
You have to groom yourself on your own time. You can’t hope that what you do at work will mold you into the person you want to become and create the success you want to experience.
If you want to change, if you want to progress, you have to start achieving tonight.
I know first-hand how tempting it is to completely switch off your brain when you leave work. You are physically, mentally and sometimes emotionally tired, I get it. That is the fastest route to average.
You can do that OR you can decide to commit to being better. You can decide to be smarter, more committed and more creative.
The next question I get a lot is:
Where do I start? What should I be doing during these hours to progress my life?
In my experience, it all boils down to creativity. Ask yourself, what gets your creative juices flowing?
I am a firm believer that everyone needs a creative outlet and that if you embark on a creative journey (no matter how big or small), this opens up your ability to hone in on your passion and identify opportunities to bring them to life in ways that are fulfilling, exciting and financially profitable.
But I’m just not creative!
Yes you are!
You’re in your head too much. Being creative doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel – it means taking something and making it your own. You’re the only one standing in your way and oftentimes your day job reinforces a line of thinking that there are right and wrong ways to do things, ya know, by the book. Being creative doesn’t necessarily mean being more productive.
When you leave your day job, that part of your life is over. Go home and re-enage your brain for a new purpose.
So, how do I find a creative outlet?
Simple. Learn something new.
My story is a story of embracing creativity by learning something new.
My first two year in the corporate world mirror those of the majority of my peers. Work 9-6, gym, dinner, TV, sleep, REPEAT. Monday through Friday.
At the same time, I lamented my inability to find my passion and was frustrated by the comparison I made in my head to others who had and were thriving as a result.
Something clicked about two years in and I was no longer satisfied with watching TV, “hanging out,” drinks after work, etc. I dove headfirst into areas that I had always wondered about but never got around to learning.
Just be creative, dude.
I began to study web development. In the beginning it was just me doing cool sh*t, designing sites as a creative outlet. It was a sense of catharsis and a fun creative journey.
As I learned more, I began combining this creative outlet with other areas of life. I started to write and curate cool articles that I enjoyed as a means to bring them together on one site.
From there, I started applying skills I learned at work – online marketing, analytics, data application, etc. It all started to come together.
Fast forward two more years and I run a media company housing several sub-brands, podcasts, blogs, and other online companies.
See what happened? By learning something new, being creative and applying skillsets and other interest areas, I found a passion area of mine that has not only taken me on a fun journey but is also financially profitable.
That won’t necessarily happen to everyone but the lesson is clear to me.
Find a creative outlet and let it guide you until it leads you to the next journey. Don’t think too hard about it. Don’t try to connect a creative outlet with a potential passion area that is going to make you loads of money. Find something that interests you and allows you to be creative and just let it start there.
It all starts with learning and building something new. Explore areas that you aren’t familiar with.
Build a blog. Start a podcast. Learn to draw. Learn music. It doesn’t matter!