How to build a dream job while you work a day job

How to build a dream job while you work a day job - wordy advice from someone who's doing it via

“I want to quit blogging!”

I remember the day vividly. I was on my way to work but stopped in at my friend’s place to whine. I was in an online decorating contest and wanted to quit. It was so hard… I had to come up with a new project once a week and the push was gruelling. I had a dayjob AND blog after all and this extra stuff on the side took things over the top. 

One day in mid contest, I lost it. “I can’t do this contest anymore. The pace is KILLING ME. Why am I doing this blog thing anyway? It doesn’t earn me anything. A clean house and cooking? Long gone. I want out. I want my life back. I want to quit blogging!”

My friend looked me sternly in the eye and said, “To do what exactly? To do something you hate?

You are on the build. EVERYTHING you do now will pay you back later. Never forget that. And never stop. You are on the right track, so keep going! DON’T. YOU. DARE. STOP!”

After my pep talk, I gulped hard and decided to stay in the race. I saw through the competition and even nearly won. But turns out, the final win did not matter.

Staying in the game did.

Old crate stairway via
Crate stairyway is HERE

All Decorating Contest Posts are HERE

Because in a nutshell, all those projects I pushed myself so hard on have been some of the most popular to date.  Some have landed in magazines and many have been featured elsewhere. And they continue to get fairly high ranking visits each year.

But it wasn’t just about staying in. The push to do my BEST was the key. Even when I didn’t have time.

Today, my thoughts work the opposite way. I dream of quitting the day job so I have more time to blog.

So why haven’t I yet? I ask myself that every single day. But I always know the answer. I don’t earn enough. Yet. Because there is one thing I’ve learned over the years… you have to earn more than you spend if you wish to leave debt behind and get ahead.

When I tell others I work two jobs, they shake their head. “How do you do it? I can barely work one!”

And that’s when I assess how happy they are with their one job. Interestingly enough, most aren’t. Yet they are more than willing to run home at the end of their day and put up their feet because they are tired.

I can’t imagine. 🙂

So, here’s my take on how to build a dream job while you work a day job.

Rustic garden shed from salvaged wood via
Garden junk shed HERE


You truly have to love your passion with all your heart. Because you are going to spend countless hours building this whatever it is. May as well do it right this round. Own it and ADORE it.

Old gate window screens via

Old gate window screens HERE


Everyone has 30 minutes in their day they waste. At least. So spend that 30 minutes on something that you love to do that counts. I nearly guarantee, you’ll put more time into it once you start. But starting is key. If you keep saying to yourself you don’t have time, you won’t make the time. Leave the laundry unfolded and put in your time Then fold your laundry.

How to make a farmhouse window from plain boards and no miter cuts via
Create a farmhouse window with plain boards HERE


If you are doing this new thing for just the money, you’ll be disappointed.  Do it for the love of it to start and the rest will take care of itself. If you choose the other way around, you’ll end up doing something you don’t like and turn it into just another job. No boring day jobs allowed this round! 


It’s my belief everyone has a special purpose. Rather than thinking this thing is all about you, try changing that perspective. Maybe it’s because it’s about someone else.

The only way to know that for sure is to write a mantra. Why do you want to do what you want to do? And don’t have it just about money. Dig DEEPER. Why are you choosing THIS?

Your delivery and focus will totally change… and so will the result of your efforts, as long as you stick to your mantra. You just wait and see.

Salvaged Farmhouse Bathroom Makeover via

Salvaged Farmhouse Bathroom Makeover HERE


That hurt, didn’t it? 5 years to earn? My artist buddy told me that 5 years ago and I groaned… but I’m now on my 6th year of blogging and he was right. My project archives and built up traffic are finally making a difference and helping pay my way in life.

Your time may come sooner or it might take longer. But don’t expect instant riches. This is why it’s so important to build WHILE you have a day job.

Pallet wood sawhorse ladder blogging desk via

Pallet wood sawhorse blog office desk HERE


While taking a leap of faith is good, it won’t pay the bills. Not at first. This is why it’s so important to make time for your passion NOW. You’ve got to fire things up while you earn.

ONLY when your passion is earning more than your day should you consider quitting the day… unless you have the cushion of another household income. Let me put it this way… if I were married to a working spouse, I’d have left the day job LONG ago.

You CAN do both. It won’t be easy, but how many do you know that can honestly say they adore their work? Be different. Because it’s vital you do this if you ever wish to be happy and do what you love.

Pallet wood topped desk via


There’s only one of you. And two fulltime jobs will likely kill you slowly. So if you wish to up the ante on the dream job and can’t possibly put in all those extra hours, something has to give. You can choose to downplay the day job to make room for the dream job, or take longer making your dream happen. There’s just no other way.

I am fortunate that I have been self employed for 22 years, so I cut back clients as I grew the blog. It was my only sanity saver and it’s working!

– – – – – –

I know one day I’m going to have to cliff jump and take a risk. It’s scary losing the security of regular work, but I’m already in my 50’s. When will it be time? I’m working on soon!

Just start now. I know you’re tired. I worked all day too and I’m slurring my thoughts right this moment. But when I sit here and write, the tired momentarily lifts. I’m writing with intention because not only am I putting my 30 (60-90ish) minutes in before I hit the hay, I’m LOVING it and don’t feel the pain of tired. Yet. 🙂

I challenge you. Put in your 30 min daily no matter what, and watch what eventually happens… I got a new blog post out of mine. How about you?

My last truck - a story on quitting the day job to pursue the passion job via
Part 2  – My Last Truck – Late August 2014 I quit my dayjob. I made the leap! This post says it all.

Part 3 – What it finally took to make the jump into blogland – the pains and total faith of taking that final leap

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Categories: Blog, Blogging, Blogging Tips, Business, Career building, DIY, Inspiration

155 thoughts on “How to build a dream job while you work a day job

  1. At what point do you decide you’re done? Because for m err, I feel I have tried hard working on 3 or 4 years now with only 121 followers. Really?! Can’t get far that way. I’ve read all the blogging “do’s”. So when do you say your best isn’t enough?

    • Hey Michele, if you are passionate enough about what you’re doing and are willing to continue to grow and improve and do what it takes, I personally wouldn’t take no for an answer. 🙂

      Another consideration is, maybe what you’re doing right this moment needs tweaking. Focus on more forks in the road, the secret may lie there.

      I was going to email you but couldn’t locate an email on your blog… feel free to email me if you wish to chat more!

  2. Hi Donna! Wow, this post sure hit a nerve with me! Very encouraging words there. Sometimes reading other blogs, especially well-known ones, you don’t realize that these people have other obligations too.

    I quit my job a year ago and thought I’d have so much more time to do the things I love…I do, but it’s also very tempting to be lazy when you have so much time.

    It was an eye-opener for me. Thank you.


    • Siggie, I’m a big believer in there’s nothing like a deadline. I do my best work when under pressure because I think it’s natural to ‘relax’ and enjoy life along the way, but if too much, isn’t very productive.

      Maybe structuring some self inflicted deadlines may be the key for you!

      • You are right, I should set up a schedule and stick to it. I usually work better under a little pressure also. I actually never thought of that while working at home, guess I was rebelling all those previous years of being scheduled 🙂 Time to do some planning. Thanks Donna!

  3. It was never supposed to be easy, it was just supposed to be worth the —- ( late nights, lost sleep, missed tv, whatever). Words my hard working farmer parents live by. Your posts make me feel positive and blessed all day. Thanks!

    • The missed TV comment made me smile! I’m down to two shows… Downton Abbey and Survivor. When they are on which isn’t always. And I frequently miss when they are. Thank goodness for a PVR! 🙂

  4. Thank you for posting this. I really needed this right now. As an elementary teacher I come home depleted at the end of each day. My creative soul has a hard time mustering the energy to go into my studio to work. But my dream is to be able to quit my daytime job and pursue my artistic passions. I do work on it regularly but am not devoting enough time to it. So thank you for inspiring me!


    • I totally get it Kelli.

      But I think the key to making that happen is, take a look at what you do during your leisure time. Is it possible to turn THAT into a career? If you consider it work, then be open to looking beyond the obvious.

      p.s. sleeping and watching TV aren’t applicable… haha

  5. Good word, and encouragement at the right time. People ask me if I ever sleep (which I do…).

    It is a busy pace, sometimes I feel I might be neglecting important relationships (which are more important than things), but they usually remind me; or I feel this tug which tells me I have to invest more time into people than my pursuits. But all in all, I love it, or I know I would not do it.

    For now, anyhow, I feel this is the direction that the Lord is leading me. As long as I’m open to hear from the ones I love and trust, and can still move full steam ahead, I will do so.

    Blessings to you, and thanks for sharing.

    • Susan, I struggle with the people thing too. This week I attempted to meet up with 3 gals and none of them can happen because of the day job calling more than anticipated. I will try again next week because I also realize how important relationships are.

      • Great thoughts.

        I have very strong feelings that God is all about restoration and nurturing; and He uses what seems ordinary to some and turns it into something extraordinary.

        That is how he treats me, and I believe, hopes that I will in turn, engage with those around me in the same manner. My main goal is to do that. So those tugs or reminders from family and friends help to keep me grounded. Just pray that my heart stays tender to that, or all of this is for not…

        My philosophy drives my passion for my extra-curriculur job. I often take things, usually antiques, cast-aways, vintage or just finds and try to look at them a little differently. Either they just need some restoration or they need an overhaul. I do love doing what I do.

        My philosophy also keeps me on track with my FT job with benefits. It causes me to pause and make sure I’m still giving it my best; taking care of people and my tasks to the best of my ability.

        Can’t remember ever taking the time to really engage with a blog. Looking back at what I just wrote, kind’ve looks like my “mission statement” for this leg of my journey. Thanks for the prompt.

        Now, all I have to do is stay true to my “mission statement”.

        All the best,

  6. Wow, what a great post at just the right time. I have been blogging for over four years and despite getting serious the last year really, it is constantly an uphill climb. There are days I am so ready to quit. I have read all the dos and don’ts, but have tried to stay true to what I do and not follow trends. That can be good and bad, but at least I enjoy it and that has made a difference. I am passionate about my “day job” as a worship leader while blogging gives me another kind of creative outlet…and hopefully a future. Thanks for the encouragement Donna:-)

    • Anita, it may be that blogging in itself isn’t the right choice. Look beyond… is there something that you truly enjoy doing? Maybe blogging can help catapult ‘that other thing’.

      Blogging itself is full time. If it’s a struggle to stay at the keyboard, look beyond!

  7. I so needed to see this! My day job requires 40+ hours each week, so when I do make the time for creating, I feel guilty that I’m not working (even if it’s on the weekend). This year I’ve made a goal to try to be as focused as possible at work and leave the guilt behind once I get home.

    Have you ever considered a different day job that would allow you more time at home? I’ve been tossing that idea around – but is no less scary.

    When you were just starting out – how did you create the habit of setting aside a few minutes every evening?

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  8. I really enjoy your posts – everything you do is top of the line. I’ve recently started a blog in my area of passion – gardening. I completely agree with everything you say – 30 minutes means everything and who needs a clean house. I decided I’ll have a super clean home when I get to heaven. Thank you for taking the time and energy in all you do. You’re Awesome and set a great example for others! Enjoyed this post it was like reinformcement! -Carole

  9. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. :). I am continually amazed that God keeps nudging. Nudging the right people into my path and the right friends to say what I need to hear.
    You are so incredibly talented, my sweet friend. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with us. 🙂

  10. Donna, I know I’m not the only one who’s glad you didn’t quit. Your blog is one of my favorites and I enjoy your posts about projects as well as your trips with No. 1 Son. I really don’t know how you do it… I blogged a few times on my vacations just to communicate with friends at home and show them what we were doing. It took a lot of time ! And it was hard to give up that time in the evening when I would much rather have been looking at the stars. It might be easier at home during the day to take time to concentrate specifically on a blog, but I’d much rather read my favorites than produce my own. Thank you for sticking it out!

    • Thank-you Patty! Blogging isn’t for everyone, but for me, it’s my way of sharing and inspiring. You have to really believe in your topic AND love writing and photography to make it all as seamless as possible. It’s ok to not like blogging yourself, you just have to find ‘the thing’ that works for you! But blogging indeed can help get the word out about what you have chosen to do.

      While some blog while on vacation, I also think it’s perfectly ok to look at those stars without having to write about it. There has to be a balance. I believe in living your life then blogging about it, but only if you’re driven to. Family first!

  11. Thank you for this post. I left my job 6 months ago. Not because I wanted to but I had to due to stress and other factors. I’ve been searching for a new job with no luck and have been working for myself making crafts and selling online. A couple weeks ago I became so burnt out putting in 12-15 hour days and then some trying to make a living I had to take a break and regroup about what it is I needed and wanted to do. It is through these inspiring posts that I keep motivated to start again and push hard. Yes it will take time but ill get there. Have a beautiful day.

  12. Excellent sound advice! I’m at a cross roads right now, trying to figure out if we can do it on one income while I do what I love and grow it… big lump in my throat. I haven’t gone back to work since my layoff and my “income” comes to a close soon. Can you build me a crystal ball? Pinning, so I can read it over and over! Thank-you!

    • If you’re unsure Laurie, I’d go back part time and apply more time to blogging. Then eventually make the flip. I’m certainly not endorsing folks quit and run into hard times. Gotta take care of the bills for sure!

      • Hi Donna, I sure hope I didn’t make is sound like you were advising folks to quit and run into hard times… you are exactly right, that’s not a smart move, bills of course have to be paid. 🙂 But I am unsure so you are correct, thank-you for sharing your wisdom and experience! It’s very much appreciated! xo

  13. Thank you so very much for your wonderful words of encouragement! It is so easy to loose perspective sometimes and then we are gently reminded that we are on the right path. Your post did that for me this morning ;).

    Your post also stirred up in me how we are called to be excellent and faithful with everything that we have been trusted with; including our day job ;). It is so easy to get discouraged with our day jobs and long for the day when we can “quit”. In reality though, it is just as important (at least for the moment) as anything else we are doing and our employers deserve our best as well (not just our longing to be out of there). I need to a better job at this and remember the blessing that a regular paycheque is AND that I get to do something I love on top of it ;). How much better could it get?!

    Thank you again for your insightful words and wisdom. Keep up the amazing work; both during the day and at night 😉

    • I agree Lisa. We owe it to our employers to do the best we can with a cheerful heart. But my point is, if folks don’t feel like that, it’s very likely they have chosen the wrong line of work. It’s those I’m encouraging, to find what you were really meant to do, which in return will give that job to someone who really does desire it!

      There are all kinds of jobs. Some are a mere means of earning so you can provide for schooling, or to help propel you towards something you are going after. No matter why you’re there, you also owe it to yourself to do your best… until you can finally offer it to someone who will love it more. 🙂

      • I absolutely agree with you! We have to be in the job that is meant for us and many aren’t. I was speaking more personally that even though I know I am meant to be at my day job (and it has taught me so much!) AND building my dream job at the same time, I need to be thankful for both at this point; not always longing to be at a different point in my life 🙂 I need to enjoy the moment and learn and take from it what I can knowing that each experience will teach me something new. And… even though you meant your post in a different way, I found it incredibly encouraging as well and this is just what it meant to me.

  14. You don’t need affirmation from me, but girlfriend, you are right on! I had this very discussion with myself this weekend. I’m retired and for the first three years of my retirement I felt like I was on vacation. Then one of those things I enjoyed learning and doing turned into a job that I never wanted again. I was flattered that people wanted to buy my altered books. They were cute and the perfect “screamer” for my friend in her new gallery. Then I went overboard with my time and money and find myself on the losing end. I’ve swapped learning new things for what has become a drudge and not the joy the creating once was. So I’m finishing up my commitment for a trunk show, signing up for a local craft show, getting rid of my inventory and closing shop so I can go back to learning and creating again, finding satisfaction in every day. You gave good advice. Love what you do. Give it the time it needs to grow and nurture your heart and soul along the way. Thanks.

  15. First time commenting but I loved this post so much I just shared it in our Canadian blogging forum on Facebook. The part about the laundry got me the most because I say that all the time. That I always have laundry to fold because I’ve run out of time in the day. This year I said enough and decided to start organizing my home life and my online content. I appreciate your honesty so much with this because I’ve heard the same voices in my head many times last year. Life is short so do what you love. I agree.

    • Alex, thanks for chiming in! 🙂

      I’m all for keeping up our homes. We have to live there and we enjoy them more when they are organized. I’ve just trained myself to overlook the bad until I can get to it! LOL Not everyone can do that.

      But I liken it to this. People and connections are more important. So I have a choice. I can either apply all my extra time towards a spotless home or use some (most) of that time towards building a future so I have more time to keep that house spotless in the future.

      And that is why I have a pallet sitting on my sofa, and unfolded clean laundry on my floor. HAHA

  16. Thanks so much for sharing. Have been trying to get started for a few years, but couldn’t seem to do it. Couldn’t find the time, now I am inspired to MAKE the time. Excellent advice. THANK YOU!

  17. You are so right and I needed to hear this today!
    I have been building up an antique business, it is my dream job. But I live in CA and it is difficult to find the “good” stuff and at prices that I can afford. I was getting very discouraged.
    Thanks for the pep talk! It helps! karen….

  18. Wow!I just discovered your blog this morning and this post certainly hit home for me. Divine intervention maybe? I have been debating starting a blog for quite some time but fear has kept me from doing so. I have had many friends and family encourage me to take this leap of faith, but I have been unable type the first words or post the first picture. I am at a crossroads in my life. I either go back to work fulltime and do something that I might not love but will pay the bills or do something I love and have wanted to do all my life. I have been a DIY girl for over 25 years, starting with my first apartment and very little money. Thank you for the inspiring words. Your blog is wonderful and one I will visit often.

  19. 30 minutes a day and 5 years of it… sigh. I am on a blog hiatus right now because I had no energy for it anymore. I am feeling a little more inspired after reading your post. Sometimes you have to walk away for a time to realize how much you love what you were doing/living.

    Thanks for the pep talk. Guess I have 2 more years of blogging to go…


    • Anne! Breaks are so important! Sometimes we get in so deep we can’t see the light of day. It’s good to clear your head.

      I think there’s something very telling about those that take frequent blog breaks. It may be that blogging itself isn’t the ultimate path but maybe focus on all those forks in the road instead.

      Writing and documenting isn’t for everyone. As for me? Try and pry this keyboard away from me! 🙂

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