Full Time Artist Blog #003 – Setbacks

So…yeah. Been a while. Like a year and a half. Sorry about that.

But hey, don’t dismiss this blog post so quickly, because unless you want to wait a year and a half too, there might be some valuable info in here.

Firstly, so I’ve had a few day jobs since the last posting. I worked in a factory making plastics for medical devices. That was 12hr shifts, nights, and it was pretty grueling. I was pretty much a zombie that whole time because another wrinkle set things back that I had to do something every day that interrupted my sleep. Doesn’t matter what, but it was pretty much impossible to have a sound mind and body during this episode. Enter job number two: Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A was a different kind of crazy. I mean, it was a GOOD kind of crazy. They are, like, the Cadillac of fast food. They aren’t “really” fast food, in that they are constantly striving for improvement and such. And boy were they busy…Oh…My…Goodness. It was so busy that the first weekend I actually got dizzy trying to process it all and was this close to walking out. Stayed, and was there for about six months. Ultimately, tho it was an improvement from the factory, the hours were entirely not conducive to being a gigging musician. I had to get up at 4:15 every day to make it to work on time, and work was so incredibly draining, I was pretty much useless once I got home. I believe they call it “decision fatigue” or something, but, yeah…had to make a change. Enter job number three: cook.

Yes, for a very short time I actually became a cook for a local retirement facility. The hours were great, the pay was good, and the best thing is that I lived 5min from the place. And MUUUUUUCH less stress, a very easy going shift with plenty of time to chill and take care of things. I was really looking forward to keeping that job and make my musical moves (like Jagger?…naw). But it was not meant to be. Problem: people. Some of the people there seemed to think I was some sort of neo-Nazi because I got shunned as a racist or some nonsense and it got pretty weird and even hostile in there. Lots of toxicity in the city (SOAD!!!!). Had to get out of there, asap.

That was a couple weeks ago. And without a job to replace the last one, I was on the hunt AGAIN.

And now to the point: WHERE’S THE MUSIC!

Exactly, it ain’t. Why? Well, I can’t really TOTALLY blame the day jobs. I mean, after all, I put myself in this predicament. If I could go back and tell my slightly younger self, I would say, “Don’t move. Don’t quit your job until you are WELL established.” At least, that is partially true. After all, not being able to pay the bills puts you in a stressful situation. If it were just me, shoot, I’d live in a van by the river (actually, many people are doing that these days as a philosophical choice, tiny homes, etc. Chris Farley was a prophet!). But I got a family, a wife and two kids…what is a responsible adult to do?

So here I am, figuring it out. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1. Money
– Get your debt under control, preferably get completely OUT of debt
– Lower your standard of living. Cut all the unnecessary stuff like the sports cable package and even that expensive car payment. If you are going to be living on the cheap, you have to learn what the REALLY means. Trust me, you don’t need it. You have your goals and your family and friends, you don’t need that new phone, tv, car, shoes…well maybe the shoes.
– Save save save. Save whatever money you can. The ideal situation, if you were to quit your day job and pursue music full time, would be to have 6 months of living expenses saved up. If you lower your standard of living low enough, it is definitely doable. I wish I did that. I saved a bit, but not nearly enough, and you definitely want to have number two before you even think about breathing about leaving your job…

2. Plan
– If you’re going to quit the day job and pursue anything, you need a definite plan, a SMART plan. That is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time (sensitive, that is, something you can put a date on and say, “I’m going to do this by this date”). My plan was not so spelled out. I had six months when I got down here, but I screwed it up. I focused not on music, but on a t-shirt making business. Unfortunately, the house we are renting is not conducive to such an adventure. Not that I wasn’t allowed to do it, but that the house is very old and things that you would think would be available, like a sink, or even a drain, were not. Long story short, it took me six months to work out all the technical issues, but ran out of time and needed to get a job. Enter job number one.
The plan was to use the t-shirt biz to make ends meet while working on the music as well. A good plan, but I didn’t have my SMART goals and ran out of time before I could get it off and running, had no money for marketing, etc. So it lay unused to this day…boo-hoo.

So, lessons learned:
– Have a financial plan before quitting the day job
– Have a business plan before quitting the day job.

Basically, make sure you don’t fall flat on your face and be forced to work jobs that do nothing but suck the life and creativity out of you.

But there is more to this story, which I’ll share in another blog. Till then, DO NOT GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAM. Everyone runs into problems, but only the successful people decide to not give up and let those problems beat them.

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