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Before You Chase Your Dream, Do This

“I can’t wait to quit my job so I can follow my dream.” I run into so many people who share that sentiment with me. I’m a bit of a magnet for that sort of talk because I’m self-employed.

I’m a full-time writer and entrepreneur. I get to publish books and start new companies on a whim. It all seems pretty exciting to the onlooker. People assume I got fed up with my job one day, stormed into my employer’s office, and quit in a blaze of glory. Then I started my own company and never looked back.

The truth is far less glamorous than that, though. To be honest, I sort of stumbled into this self-employment dream. I never had huge ambitions to “stick it to the man” or do something on my own. Instead, I just moonlighted my way into this career.

When I was still working for “the man,” I started writing. I launched a couple of blogs to hone my craft and develop an audience. These projects consumed my lunch hours and weekends for a few years. It was until my wife had the opportunity to attend school in another city that it dawned on me to make these projects my full-time job. I still loved my job working at a church, but I realized I would either have to find a new job or take a shot at writing and blogging for a career.

So I made the leap. I had already put in the hard work to develop a skill and a platform. The rest was simply a mixture of hustle, prayer and relying on God when things seemed scary. Be sure; they were scary. But I believed God led me to make the leap and He sustained me through it all.

This is my story, but what about yours? I think there are a few principles I stumbled onto that helped me chase my dream career without giving everything up in the process, and these principles can work for you too.

1. Work Six Days Instead of Five

There’s a lot of talk in the Bible about taking a Sabbath day of rest (Exodus 20:11). It’s important to choose one day each week to rest and devote our attention to God. But you’ll notice that God worked six days, not five.

We’ve become accustomed to two days of rest, when God only mandated one. Why not take that figurative sixth day to work on your dream? That might mean Saturdays, lunch hours, or nights. I’m not saying you should work around the clock—that’s a recipe for burnout. Be sure to set aside days and times to intentionally rest. But you may find that using some of your Saturday to do what you love—and would love to do as a career—will be energizing, and it may also open up opportunities to do it more.

2. You Can Work On Your Dream Job Before It’s Your Real Job

People used to ask me what I liked to do in my spare time. I always felt odd answering that question, because my response was, “I like to work.” The truth was, my hobby was writing and developing my platform. That’s what got me excited: building new businesses and blogs.

If you have a dream you would like to achieve, sometimes it can seem like you can’t really pursue it unless you can devote huge chunks of time to it. But what if you just traded out the time you spend working on your Jeep or watching hours of Netflix on the weekends? There’s nothing wrong with those activities, and sometimes they’re important breaks, but turn your dream into your hobby and you’ll see it come about.

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3. Start Small

I meet so many people who have huge dreams. Huge dreams are great, but they can’t be overwhelming at first. These dreams could include opening a restaurant, recording an album or writing a novel.

Those are some daunting endeavors if you’re only working on Saturdays toward these dreams. Instead, what if you started small and only bit off one small bite of those dreams?

You could start catering occasional events. You could write one song and record a demo. You could write a short story or start a fiction blog. Just like we’re being transformed into God’s image in steps—from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18)—we don’t achieve the dream God’s given us all at once. It takes time. It takes steps. Start with what is in your hand right now. God can use that in mighty ways (Exodus 4:2).

God has given you a passion. He has placed a desire in your heart to serve Him. That might mean self-employment or it might mean your dream job working inside a company. Whatever that dream is, commit it to God, and let Him do amazing things with it.

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