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In my first post based on the book written by Carol Eikleberry, Ph.D, which is a career guide for creative and unconventional people, I discussed how challenging it can be for creative people making a living at their art. For most creatives, a day job is a necessity. There are a couple of schools of thought on how to decide where you put in your time to pay the bills.
Eikleberry’s book is based on the Holland Self-Directed career assessment, which classifies jobs according to six basic types: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. When you take the assessment, you get a primary and secondary result. Assuming artistic careers are your first interest, you could choose a job that uses your secondary interest. You’ll be more interested in your work, and the people who surround you at work will be more likely to share your work style.
My secondary preference is enterprising jobs, which include management, sales and persuasion. Public relations, communications and journalism all fall into the enterprising category, so it’s not a surprise that I have a day job that I really enjoy and that keeps me challenged and engaged. The Holland model also gives you the career group that is least like your preference; you can use that to avoid jobs and organizations whose culture would drive you crazy.
Your next option for choosing a day job is to choose to do conventional work in an artistic setting. You get the advantage of working with people who are making art and soaking up the culture and inspiration as a daily bonus. You could manage volunteer schedules for the community theater, for example, answer phones at a publishing house, raise funds for the symphony, wait tables or run the cash register in the museum’s cafeteria or gift store, or usher for the concert venue.
If you choose to work around artists in your field, you may be more likely to improve your art or get your work noticed. If you work around artists in another field, you get the advantage of inspiration that may expand your artistic perspective. Either way, you’ll also get a glimpse of the business side of art, working around the people who make decisions about how art is commissioned, sold or displayed.
Your third option for a day job is to take the most boring job you can imagine. Yes, you read that right. Albert Einstein, arguably one of the smartest men on the planet, subscribed to this theory. He, like many other powerful men, including Steve Jobs and President Obama, always wore the same thing to work. He chose a job that was so boring it gave him plenty of time to think about his scientific theories. The more mental energy you send on your day job, he reasoned, the less mental energy you have for what really matters.
There are plenty of jobs that are repetitive and don’t require a lot of decision making or creative investment. You’ll still need to perform well, of course, but perhaps a job that doesn’t engage your creative energy is just what you need.