What do you do when Plan A isn’t working out the way you expected it to – or even hoped it would? Go on to Plan B, right? But what if Plan B isn’t working out the way you’d hoped either?
What if all those side hustles you’ve been gathering while you work on the big dream aren’t quite bringing in the income you need to pay the bills? But at this point in your life, you’ve figured out what you love doing – and can’t imagine doing anything else?
A year ago, I accepted my dream job. I left behind a company and people that I loved – and a job I didn’t love – to take the big leap and work as an editor for one of my favorite online publications. And the position itself was, indeed, my dream job – editing articles about mindful, spiritual, environmental, and social justice topics. But for a few different reasons, the position as a whole just wasn’t a good fit.
The biggest reason was my need for flexibility. My kids go to two different schools – neither of which have buses – so I spend an hour in the morning and two hours in the afternoon shuttling kids to school. And even more flexibility would be needed in the summers. There was just no way around that simple fact. No matter how much I wanted to make it work, it was clear that it wasn’t a good fit for either of us.
So I moved on after parting ways amicably, and after a few months, landed an editing role at another online publication that I absolutely love. It is everything I could hope for in the work I get to do, the amazing boss I have, and what they’re bringing to the world. But the publication is only a few years old, so it’s a very part-time gig.
And then I found another very part-time editing gig for another publication whose mission makes me so proud.
And then I took on another very part-time editing gig for a book publishing company.
A friend of mine would joke with me, “Another new job?! How many jobs do you have?!” And I would laugh and tell her, “As many as it takes to do what I love and pay the bills.” But unfortunately, all of these very part-time side hustles add up to a lot of work – that isn’t paying the bills.
I am constantly telling myself that all this hard work is going to pay off someday soon, but suffice it to say that Plan B isn’t quite working out the way I had hoped. I love the work I get to do, and if I could get paid a living wage for it, it would be perfect. But it just isn’t possible with these particular side hustles. The companies can’t sustain that yet.
So I put on my career coaching hat and started talking to myself about what it is I need right now, what is really just a want at this point in my career, and what I absolutely don’t want. This is what I came up with:
Remote, flexible work
A living wage
Something that doesn’t suck the soul out of me
Working with words – editing or content management, preferably
A company I can feel proud of and that is doing its part to improve the world
Something in my wheelhouse of articles and online magazines
Corporate America – no technical document editing or gray cubicles. It’s not me, and honestly, it never was.
The hustle – I manifested this one right into my life talking about side hustles, but I’ve decided I don’t have the heart for the hustle. I love connecting with new writers and learning if we can benefit from each other. Would publishing on our sites help them grow their following? Would the readers of the sites I edit for want to read their articles? I love sharing their mindful messages with the world. But I don’t like the hustle of trying to find something to publish just to fill a time slot that day. It would be nice simplify and just do work I love.
Working for (almost) free – I’ve already got enough of that with all those side hustles.
Perhaps I should have expected this last one in the writing and editing world. Like most other arts, it’s just not valued as much as other professions might be. And I get it. The work we do is not always directly tied to revenue, like a sales position. And I absolutely knew what I signed up for when I went to work for these amazing publications.
But things have changed in my world, and I need to start bringing in a regular, steady income that I can count on every month.
As a career coach, I would recommend that someone in my position who needs to bring in a real salary look for something that is at least somewhat related to my love of words – maybe working in a library or bookstore. Or maybe I could put my marketing, HR, or career coaching experience to use at a local college…a work setting I’ve always thought might suit me. It’s time to broaden my search and start to consider more options than I might have before.
But I will continue to search for that unicorn of a role that allows me to get paid to do the work I love to do – with all the flexibility I need to make it work with my family life.
And whether I find that unicorn role or end up shelving books in a library, I plan on maintaining my writing and editing gigs on the side. Because those who do it, do it for the love of the craft. For the love of words. And connecting with others through those words.
And you know what? That’s exactly why I do it, too.
What about you? Have you found balance in doing the work that you love to do with bringing in a salary that will put food on your table and a roof over your head? What kinds of compromises have you had to make in order to be happy at work and still make money? Share with me in your comments below!