4 Ways to Use Your Day Job to Move Toward Your Dream Job

Apr 23, 2013 - Joe Matar

Picture it: you had an idea for a business. You researched, you scrimped and you saved for your prototype. Your significant other gave it a wink and your grandmother cannot wait to see you on the Forbes list!

You get to wake up each day and make your own rules. Your time is your own. Gone are those endless meetings, your annoying supervisor and the unrealistic deadlines. You can finally burn that useless employee manual.

Oh, but wait. What’s that piercing sound? Your alarm clock?

Off to your day job you go...

There’s plenty of great advice on day jobs and dream jobs. And  the truth is, you can use your day job to make progress on your dream business. Here are four ways to do that:

1. Change your perspective

Your day job is the gift that keeps on giving; it is an investment. With your steady paycheck, you’re able to finance your dream. Set aside a specific amount of your paycheck for your business venture, and remind yourself not to resent your 9-to-5—it’s helping you move toward that big goal.

2. Take your financial temperature

Knowing how to manage your money is the first step to being a successful entrepreneur. The moment you decide to make the leap to being your own boss, you need to take a candid assessment of your financial picture: your credit score, your savings, your debt. If your personal finances are in shambles, you should address those issues while you still have a steady paycheck coming in before throwing yourself into your business full-time.

3. Learn everything you can from everyone you can

One day you’ll be glad you did. That self-righteous coworker who knows Excel as if he created the program? He’s the one you want to ask how to create master spreadsheets. The assistant with the ever-annoying attention to detail? Follow her example to learn how you can stay on top of your game.

This is the time to seek out mentors and others who can teach you specific skills so you don’t have to spend thousands on post-college courses. Your workplace likely has built-in teachers, so suck as much knowledge out of them as you can.

4. Stop wasting time

Some days, you’ll be impatient and anxious to start your business. Don’t these folks know you have other things to do?

That mindset—though natural—is a waste of time. It often can end up a waste of money, too; you’ll eat through your budget while rushing your business off the ground.

Instead, focus on what you can accomplish during commutes, lunch, evenings and weekends. Then create realistic a timetable for your exit strategy and new focus: your business.

Tanea Smith is a motivational speaker and expert on launching while working. She’s also the founder of inspiring stationery collection She’s Got Papers.