How many times have you witnessed someone punching the clock day after day while their dreams seem to be far removed from than their current reality?

Unfortunately, I see it all the time. The accountant who longs to open their own bake shop, the factory worker whose true calling is activism.

The disconnect is even present in my own life. While my dream is to become a bestselling romance novelist, I currently spend eight hours a day shuffling through paperwork. Too often bills and other responsibilities of adulthood keep us holding on to something that’s tolerable rather than completely submerging ourselves in the journey toward our destinies.

Some advise that the cure for this is to step out on faith, go out on a limb and leave everything behind – and that’s wonderful if you’re able to do so. However, in my world security is a real necessity.

I don’t feel bad about holding on to my day job. Without it life would be a lot more challenging and who has time for that? But that doesn’t mean that I’ll leave my dreams to die at the feet of Corporate America either.

If you’re like me and find yourself in a spot where you know your heart hasn’t led you, my motto is to simply do what you can until you can do what you want. Here are 5 ways to propel yourself closer to your goals all while sidestepping the unemployment line.

5 Ways to Follow Your Passion While Working a 9 to 5

1. Make Time for Your Passion

Making time for your passion seems like a no brainer, however it’s actually a lot easier said than done. By the time you finally have a moment for yourself, jumping right back into what feels a lot like work is probably the last thing on your mind.

All too often I end my days mindlessly scrolling down some social media feed when I could have used that very same time to bring me one step closer to doing what I love full time.To remedy this, I literally plan time to do the things that need to be done.

If I can give an organization forty hours or more a week, there’s no reason why I can’t give myself at least ten.

Granted, with that logic I end up on the short end of the stick, but ten hours is a whole lot more than no hours.

Even with those modest numbers you may still be wondering how you’ll find time. It’s easy. Simply put, people make time for the things that are important to them. Because I refuse to sacrifice any of family time, I often find myself sacrificing sleep, and let me tell you, I’m not the type of girl that likes to miss out on her Z’s. However, what I don’t like even more than losing shut eye is the thought that I may not be giving my goals a fair shake. A few less than restful nights seem like a fair exchange to me.

Find ways to weave your goal-hunting process into your lifestyle. Some alterations might include waking earlier or working on things during your lunch period. Whatever you do, make sure that the plan works for you and that you stay consistent.

2. Connect With Like-Minded Individuals

One of the best things you can do as it relates to your career, obtaining your goals, or just life in general is: connect with other like-minded individuals.

If you’re an artist you’ll walk away feeling even more inspired after an evening of sharing work and discussing dope concepts. If you’ve always dreamed of being an entrepreneur, teaming up with an equally yoked go-getter can work wonders in your progress.

The key is to surround yourself with people that get your vision and motivate you to see it through.

Once you find the right people to vibe with, you may even realize that there are opportunities to partner with them.

Having a partner you trust can be invaluable when securing your vision. Partnerships are extremely useful when it comes to pooling resources, and some of the most desirable resources are time and money. Having those resources come from more than one source is even better.

If your dream is more of a solo act, you’ll still benefit from having someone around that “gets it”. One can never have too much positive energy.

3. Study Your Craft

Before things really start to pop off is a great time to amp up your skills.

Sure it can be a bit frustrating to not be able to do what you want right when you want to do it, but that time is perfect for becoming even better at doing whatever it is that you do. Personal enhancement is the name of the game.

Want to be the world’s next top chef? Sign up for local cooking classes to enrich those skills. Always dreamed of being a teacher? Go back to school in your downtime. Do you live for the gym life? Why not get certified as a personal trainer?

In this day and age there are so many learning platforms that it’s almost impossible not to get better at something if you have the desire to do so.

Mentors work wonders as well, and don’t forget about those trusty old books. I personally find self-study to be remarkable.

Whatever avenue you choose, be certain that you’re constantly learning, expanding, and putting in the work that will allow you to realize your dreams with a bang.

4. Fine Tune Your Plan

So, what if you’re doing everything that you can and seem to be making absolutely no progress? It may be time to fine tune your plan.

Often people don’t keep a record of the things they’ve accomplished, so it can be easy to mistake small steps towards success as being stagnant.

This is the time to toot your own horn. Make a list of all the things you’ve achieved recently, and you may find that you’re pleasantly surprised. But don’t keep those rose-colored glasses on for too long.

Be brutally honest with yourself. Ask yourself what your shortcomings are and what’s in your power to fix. What are you doing or not doing that’s keeping you from seeing reasonable progress?

The unpopular truth is that sometimes our passions are just passions; fulfilling hobbies that don’t require us to build a living around them. Once you distinguish between what’s going right and what’s going wrong it will allow you to clearly navigate the future.

5. Be Positive

Naturally, when you’re not following your passion it can become pretty disheartening, but you have to stay positive.

Realizing your goals takes time, and it can take even longer if you don’t have the luxury to devote the bulk of your waking hours to it.

Although doubts will surely arise, be certain to reject negative self talk. Believing in yourself is half the battle.

One of the most poignant quotes I’ve ever heard is “doubt kills more dreams than failure ever could”. How many beautiful things have you allowed to slip through your grasp without ever lifting a finger to try?

Do you truly know what you’re capable of? Don’t allow an overactive imagination or the lack of support from others deter you from the path of greatness. If you’re consistent and you’ve done the legwork to ensure that you’re on the right track, keep at it.

There is no such thing as an overnight success; I have to remind myself of this often. Speak life into your situation. A big part of success revolves around your very own outlook. Expect greatness and position yourself to receive it.

I am a firm believer that if you secure time for what you love, cultivate relationships with like-minded thinkers, study your craft, proactively reevaluate your plan of action, and stay positive; you can’t help but to see results. Even if they come a little slower than what you would like.

In the end, the thing that matters is that you give your dreams everything you can when you can. You owe it to yourself.

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