The Problem with the Work-Life Balance for Creative Types
October 30, 2019
People like me struggle; we are not made for the 9 to 5 working world. We have creative minds that need to, well, ‘create’.
I like to produce pieces of art, fine line portraits of eccentric characters. I like to write; this blog for instance, as well as my next book, the long awaited ‘Hippie Kushi Waking up to Life’, which has just gone off to the publishers.
I love to travel and meet new and exciting people all around the world; I’m off for a month in Goa in January.
And work has a way of getting in the way of that. It squashes our free spirits.
Over the years I have felt deeply frustrated by not having enough time for my stuff. Long hours at the NHS were leaving me with no time for me. This has resulted in my struggling to keep hold of jobs over the last few years.
But trips to Goa do not pay for themselves and I have many projects on the go that need financing.
For the past 8 weeks I have been off work due to ill health and my broken foot. It has been wonderful. I managed to get my book finished and off to the publishers. But at the same time my finances have been dwindling.
I am about to return to work at a sports and fitness centre on Monday 4th November, its ten minutes up the road from me and its Monday to Friday. The difference is, its shift work: 7 to 2pm or 2pm to 10pm, meaning I have time in the mornings or afternoons for my stuff. I have really thought about this job this time around and turned down a few others that would not sit well alongside my lifestyle.
But it still fills me with disappointment that I’m not making a living through my own creativity…yet.
This has got me thinking about that age old problem for artistic, creative people. People like you and me; getting that work-life balance right is bloody difficult.
When I was working at the NHS I was aware of a sense of frustration. I was working up to 70 hours a week and had no time for myself or my own artistic projects. My life was work and earning and paying rent and bills and nothing else.
I decided to retire from the NHS at 55 years old as I have had enough, both physically and mentally. I now have this new job at a fitness centre, working about 40 hours a week. It looks like its going to be sociable, fun and fits into my new lifestyle.
It is not a case of ‘this is what I do’, it is simply a job that finances what I do, (my stuff). I think I am going to like my new job, although I would still like to work less and make more money from my own stuff which is a balance that is hard to master; so, what about these projects of mine?
We all have something we would rather be doing, be that creating music, DJ’ing, creating art and crafts or simply travelling the globe. I would love to make more art and sell it on Facebook and at markets. I have now sent off my second book to the publishers and hope to make good money from this and future books. My blog now has enough readers for me to get paid advertising if I choose and I would really like to set up my own hippie Kushi clothes and jewellery business, both online and at a street market stall; but it’s all a risk and it needs time.
The thing is, if you drop your regular job hours to build up these personal projects you are at risk of struggling financially. It’s a real case of the age-old work-life balance crisis; an existential struggle of work and responsibility versus being in control of your own life and future and being your own boss.
My new book; soon to be on sale
To live an ideal hippie Kushi existence these personal projects, these business enterprises and these natural outpourings of our artistic creativity, should be the things that we eventually think of as our ‘job’. We can then let go of our old life, of our ‘regular job’ and move into the realm of a true hippie Kushi life.
So what is the answer to this conundrum?
I personally believe the best approach is to keep that ‘regular job’ income for now, so that you have the financial security you need to keep money worries and the bailiffs away. Find time for your own projects when you can (weekends and evenings) but don’t neglect them.
When you are ready, pick one single project from your portfolio (for me it would be setting up my hippie Kushi clothes and jewellery business) and concentrate on only that one thing for now; because trying to work on too many things whilst still holding down a regular job is only going to result in failure.
Bit by bit you can put your efforts into setting that project up, researching the pros, cons, where you want to sell, any licences needed, and who your market is and everything you need to know to make it a success. Eventually, when the time is right, open that business up. It will probably have to be in the evening and at the weekend to start off with but that will eventually change.
Once that project is a success and you are making money from it, you can either reduce your regular job hours to part-time or give it up altogether. See, already you are doing your thing and not working for the man.
Once your new project is really going well and you are settled into it, give up that last ‘normal job’ and with your new project as your financial security, start building on the next thing (for me, my next book or producing a new piece of artwork to sell).
Eventually, you will realise your life is your own, you are your own master and you are free.
That said, I always think it is good to keep a ‘work skill’ as a backup, so that if business is slow on your own projects you can do a few shifts to top yourself up financially (there is nothing wrong with this as you are doing it to support your own stuff). For me it would be bar work; there is always bar work to be had anywhere in the UK & most places around the world as well; it’s a good back up skill to have, especially if you are a global nomad.
If you follow these ideas through, your work-life balance will now be pretty good because your ‘main job’ involves your own artistic projects and if they are the right kind of projects they can be done anywhere in the world.
What if you were able to completely immerse yourself into the hippie Kushi mindset? Find total hippie happiness? You are now building your own creative business enterprise, growing your own artistic projects. You have freed yourself up in the way you now dress, the places you socialise and the friends you keep.
Perhaps then you could consider going the whole hog and adopting a new, exciting and different way of living; an alternative lifestyle. Perhaps you could consider living as part of a community coop or living on a canal boat or travelling the country (or world) in a campervan home. The options are endless and could change your life forever.
Its not easy getting the work-life balance right but if you plan well you could soon be making a living from your own stuff instead of working for the man
Lets see how I get on in my new job next week; I just have to keep telling my self, its funding my future adventures.