Being between jobs, or waiting for the next right work to reveal itself, is just hard.
When I first wished for and wondered about self-employment, and was burning out in the job I was in, I remember feeling discouraged, that self-employment would never actually work for me. At the same time I didn’t want a boss any longer. So I felt stuck in the hallway.
I was in the in-between time: Ready for one door to close before I could see the next door open. Not comfortable.
I’ll explain 3 key ingredients that got me through that time. All 3 were eye-openers for me.
1. Keep Going
When I was fretting about my stuck situation one day, a self-employed acquaintance said to me, “Self-employment is really just a matter of perseverance. It takes a while, but it can definitely work for you if you keep going.”
I was a bit shocked that he was so confident about it. And it also gave me a glimmer of hope.
It turned out to be true for me. I stayed the course. It worked.
Perseverance is huge. No matter what hill you’re trying to climb. That’s ingredient #1.
If you’ve ever made it up a hill, out of breath yet victorious, you can do this in-between time too. We can do hard things. It can even be fun sometimes.
And yet, it’s more than purely staying the same course. What about income in the meantime?
There are at least a couple more key ingredients I needed for this in-between part of the journey.
2. Learn to see “dead ends” as detours.
Getting somewhere better is not just about persistence on the same narrow path without question. No.
It’s about perseverance PLUS correcting course as you go, based on what you learn as you go.
I had to pay attention to and follow the signs. This way is draining? It’s a No! That way is more fun, and works better? That’s a Yes, more of that please.
In order to see each sign, you have to keep walking on new paths until you find the next sign. That’s the hard part. Small steps help. No cliff jumping.
It can feel a bit wobbly at first, to walk down new paths.
It gets easier. And each new path will tell you the next thing.
And the next and the next. That’s it.
You’ve done this. You’ve adjusted the salt in a recipe until you liked it. No big risk. Just adjustments. It’s like that.
If you can master the art of the course correction, you can get somewhere better.
That’s the 2nd ingredient. But what about in the meantime?
3. You Need a Bridge in the Meantime…
It’s just a reality that you might need a “bridge job” to help you pay the bills in the meantime. That was my 3rd key ingredient.
For me, the “bridge job” was doing consulting for something I was good at already. It bought me time to explore new things, and it meant I could easily reduce time on it as I increased time on what brought the most flow and fulfillment. It also helped me learn about self-employment logistics.
I tried doing a part-time job as a bridge job but it was draining. The self-paced consulting method ended up working better for me.
Exploring a new career, or growing a new business takes the time it takes. You can’t force it. It’s like forcing seeds to grow. Watering them is good, but tugging on sprouts doesn’t work.
A “bridge job” for now is perfectly OK and good! That’s often part of how you get there. Some people worry it means they are copping out on the dream. It’s actually a way to support it.
Make sure your “bridge job” is something that fits your energy so you can save energy for developing the bigger dream.
An ideal bridge job:
- Should use some of your strengths.
- Not rely on talents that drain you.
- At least doesn’t cross any of your values (or else it would be too draining).
- A place where you’re meeting people and/or learning more about a field you’re exploring.
That way it’s at least neutral on your energy and is ideally a stepping stone to what’s next. Heck, you could get paid to move towards your dream!
To make this work, you need to know your strengths and values in order to choose a good bridge. Luckily knowing that is part of what you need to do to achieve the preferred work life too. (A career coach can help with all that. Or a career clarity course.)
Enjoy the bridge job as best you can. Amazing things can unfold from there.
To get through the in-between times, you’ll need these things for your journey:
- Notice and follow the signs as you go.
- Some kind of bridge to help you make ends meet for now.