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I quite often stumble across young aspiring entrepreneurs, most of whom are working corporate jobs which provide a nice salary but very little fulfillment and creativity. If this is you do not throw the towel in the rink and quit your day job. Chances are you are living in an expensive urban area where the money goes out a lot quicker than it comes in. Feeling unhappy now, then just wait until you don’t have that paycheck coming in. Don’t top your felt stress with financial challenges – that will only magnify your problems.

Plenty of sources will tell you to follow your passion and make that your living. But doing that is only about 10% of what you need to succeed. I have read some material of Ryan Holiday’s.
Holiday is an author and media strategist and a former director of marketing for American Apparel. He’s written six books on topics ranging from marketing to stoicism including Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts.

Holiday chose to drop out of school after securing a full-time job offer and realizing that he had a unique opportunity to jump start his career earlier than his peers. “The purpose of going to school is to secure some employment or advantage in this field that you’re pursuing. I reject the idea that one’s parents can let them do anything. At 18, you’re an adult. You can make your own decisions, and you have to be able to own the consequences. The consequence of my decision was that my parents were very upset. It made a very difficult thing even harder,” says Holiday.

Of course, it was a calculated risk, but one that paid off. After landing an opportunity to work with international best selling author Robert Greene, he soon landed a job at American Apparel quickly climbing the ranks to become the Head of Marketing at the age of 22 proving that a college degree wasn’t the only thing that is needed to get ahead in life.

You don’t need to burn the boats

The good news is that you don’t need to drop out of school or quit your day job to make meaningful changes in your life. As admirable as Holiday’s journey was, there are many ways to progress if you are feeling stuck at the moment. As someone who has worked at large technology corporations for the first decades of my career, I can relate to the feeling of being miserable and unfulfilled in a corporate job. Instead of doing something drastic, try to take that miserable situation and turn it into something productive.

One of the chapters in Holiday’s previous book called Ego Is The Enemy is titled “Alive Time Or Dead Time”. He credits this concept to Robert Greene and in the book he goes through the story of Malcolm X who was by all counts a criminal that deserved to go to jail. Malcolm X did not sit around feeling sorry for himself, but used his time to read, learn and be productive which was the reason for his great achievements after serving his time. Prison time became Malcolm X’s “alive time”, not “dead time.”

If you loathe the bare thought of your job then try to find a constructive way to let your situation support you in making progress towards your goal. If your job is demanding and requires your full 9 to 5 attention then get your side hustle on and be productive during the 5 pm – 9 am window.

“I think that if you’re really good at what you do, you don’t need to quit your job to have things on the sides because it doesn’t require the full breadth of your capacity in the way that might for someone who’s not quite as good as that same occupation,” says Holiday.

Choose your response

Holiday explains stoicism as a practical philosophy that we can use in our everyday lives. We are as humans not masters of the world around us, but we do choose how we react to it. This may sound discouraging but if you think about it, you will see just how empowering this concept is. It is a unique way of re-framing your mind and how you react to situations in life. Regardless of what the world throws at you, say the pettiness of your boss, you have the power to choose how you react to it and that option is ultimately your freedom.