Fueling Your Passion with Your Day Job

hailey gardiner guitar singer songwriter passion songwriting

I’m about to share something with you that might help you find your path as a musician. At least, that’s what it’s done for me.

What if I told you that you don’t have to quit your day job to be a musician?

After graduating from college with a bachelor’s degree in Intercultural Communications, I moved back to the mainland and was faced with a choice.

Do I pursue an internship or job related to my field of study? Or do I take the leap and become a full time musician?

I made the decision to pursue music as my career alongside my sisters. The three of us decided to set aside our other interests and passions to dive headfirst into creating online content, playing live shows, recording covers and original music, and eventually getting to fulfill a lifelong dream of getting to go on a few nationwide tours, both as the headlining band and as the opening act.

There are always two sides to every coin. On the one hand, I loved that pursuing my passion was possible. I was able to live out dreams of writing, creating, and performing that I had been imagining since I was a child!

I could make a living off of creating music with my family, the people I loved most. We were blessed with opportunities and experiences that I will forever be grateful to have as a part of my story.

But that’s just it. Being a musician, I’ve since discovered, is just one small part of our story.

There is another side to performing and working as a full time musician that I never would have known about unless I’d experienced it myself. This side consists of stress. Anxiety. Uncertainty. Insecurity. Self doubt.

The pressures of being a working performer and being dependent on your creative and artistic talents and skills to provide for yourself and for some, your family.

Because I was focusing the majority of my energy on this one aspect of myself, the rest of me started to suffer. I neglected to take care of my whole self and my whole relationships.

I had yet to learn (and am still learning) how to balance my spiritual welfare, family relationships, marriage, work life, creative inner child, and overall health and well being. And do you want to know what else suffered the most from this neglect? My creativity. My musicianship. And my ability to experience joy in creating from my heart.

Being a “full time” working musician was, ironically, part of what has made it challenging for me to be passionate about creating music. In order to live a more balanced life and flourish creatively again, I’ve chosen to make some changes in my life so that music could remain a protected, cherished passion, and not my only job.

I believe that just because you are a musician, even if you’re the most prolific, incredibly talented musician, pursuing music as a full time career might not be the right choice for you.

As crazy as it might sound, I experienced a whole lot of joy creating music when I was also working other jobs like busing tables or concocting remedies at a homeopathic physicians office. Music functioned as my outlet, my escape, my passion.

For me, depending on just my voice, talents, and primary creative, therapeutic outlet to bring in a paycheck so I could pay my rent and bills made it hard to joyfully express myself through music.

For someone else, being able to create music full time and earn a living off of it might be their bread and butter.

You have to figure out where your creative abilities and passions fit in and how you want them to function in your life.

I listened to the most fascinating podcast a few months ago with an entrepreneur named Sean McCabe in which he introduced a concept that resonated deeply with me.

“Fuel your passion with your day job.”

Initially you might say, “But my dream is to have my passion as my day job!”

And that’s what Sean says, too. But his philosophy is that you have to protect and nurture your passion in order for it to become a successful career option for you, and the best way to do that is to get a steady, secure day job outside of the industry of your passion.

Working the right kind of day job can actually fill up your creative tank and provide you with the energy you need to engage with your passion. Then if it feels right for you and your family, you can eventually make the transition into a new career within the industry of your passion.

After working for four years as a full time musician, I became so depleted of my creative energy that I knew that something had to change, and for me that change included exploring other facets of myself and my interests so that I could refill my creative tank. Restock the pond. Fill the well.

I am a whole person. YOU are a whole person. Creating music is just one part of who I am. We all have many other interests, passions, and hobbies that we’re free to experiment with and pursue.

I now have more energy than ever before to pour into things like my spirituality, creativity, marriage, music, writing books, cooking, healthy friendships, my mental, physical and emotional well being, and many other things I felt like I didn’t have time to do when I was so focused on being just a “working” musician.

This doesn’t mean that I will no longer create music. It just means that for right now, I am no longer solely dependent on my abilities as a songwriter, arranger, singer, and guitar player to make a living. And for me, that feels really right for this season of my life.

I feel free to create just because I love it and want to, not because I have to. And I have a feeling that some of the best music I will ever create is going to flow through me from my creator as a result.

What does your vision for your career as a musician look like? If you currently have a day job outside of the music industry, you might be exactly where you need to be to flourish creatively.

Recommended Resources:

Fueling your passion with your day job – Food Blogger Pro Podcast with Sean McCabe

Seanwes Podcast

Overlap Book by Sean McCabe