bread jobsA “bread job” is a job that you only do to pay the bills. Franz Kafka originally coined the term when he described his work in an insurance company. It paid the bills for him and it was necessary to keep this job since he could not live off of his true passion, writing. It made him miserable that he wasn’t able to focus fully on his passion and for his entire life had to deal with the discrepancy of doing a job that he didn’t love by day so he could afford to work on his true passion by night.

The tyranny of bread jobs

This is quite common: we have something in our lives that we are truly passionate about, something that fuels us, inspires us, something we feel like we could keep doing forever without ever getting bored of it. But for very few does the dream come true to turn their passion into their profession. So while still pursuing their passion, hoping that someday they will get their big break, generations of writers, actors, athletes and alike had to get bread jobs as well.

The problem is that bread jobs are time- and energy consuming. They will deplete you throughout the day, even more so since you are doing something you don’t particularly love, and when you come home from work you will be so tired that you barely have the strength to follow your real passion. It is a vicious cycle that sucks you deeper and deeper into a profession that you only chose for the money, but at the same time you depend on the money in order to keep following your passion (that still doesn’t pay the bills yet). 

So how can you handle a bread job without getting too drained by it and even use it to build skills for the career you really what to pursue? The following three, easy-to-apply tipps will guide you the way.

1. Overachieve in your bread job

It seems counterintuitive at first. Why would you do more than what you are expected in your bread job? Shouldn’t you instead try to do the bare minimum, save the energy and later use that when you are really pursuing your passion? No, you shouldn’t. Only doing the bare minimum and underperforming at your bread job will soon lead to complaints from customers or colleagues, you will have to justify yourself, your boss might pay extra attention to your results… it’s just not worth it. Instead, positively surprise people with your work ethic. This will secure your income,  keep your stress levels at work at a minimum and will even help you get extra treatment, which can come in handy (for example if you need a day off for your passion project, have special requests for your working hours etc.)

2. Take your bread job as training ground

Sure, your bread job might not be what you truly love. But the main principles of success are surprisingly similar in every profession. Whatever you do, you need work ethic. Whatever you do, you need precision, endurance and commitment. So why not use your bread job to develop that “mental muscle” of acting successful? Why not get a little momentum going and let it drive you further after work, when you are working on your real passion? Human beings are habitual, so it is much harder to “take it easy” and chill in your bread job, but then kill it once you get home, than to just kill it 24/7. Learn how to work hard and smart during your bread job and adapt that skill when you work on your passion. If you are truly passionate, you will find ways to develop in your passion, even when you are doing something else.

bread job

3. Find skills that intersect

Lastly, analyse your bread job carefully. What are skills you can development in its environment that could also benefit you in your passion project? Can you learn how to be be more decisive? Can you work on your leadership skills? Or could you use the bread job to learn how to read other people better and connect with them on a deeper level? If all of that fails: develop the skill to endure boring tasks with a smile on your face, without letting your inner state be affected by it. There is always something valuable you can improve in, some area you can grow and develop. Find the ones that are most beneficial for the path you are on and then make sure to work on them relentlessly while hustling away at your bread job. This way you make sure that the time spent there is not wasted.


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