008: Finding Time For Your Illustration Passion with the Overlap Technique
In reality my last post, which covered discovering your passion, could be seen as an idealistic approach to your career. It relies so heavily on time; something that in this day and age not a lot of people posses. The answer? Queue the Overlap Technique.
Affording to find your passion
One of the questions I’ve seen asked time and time again is: “How can you afford to take your time exploring different interests? Surely you have bills you need to pay?”
And yes, that’s true. All of us have bills we need to pay and people we need to support financially.
The way that I can support my passion of illustration is by having a day job.
By typically working 9 hours a day, 5 days a week it means that the bills are covered and there’s freedom to pursue the passion in free time outside of work.
I’m not saying you have to work that many hours, just whatever you need to support your lifestyle.
By making sure the bills are covered, there’s time to explore interests while not putting any financial pressure on the passion.
The goal of using a day job to support yourself is to ultimately phase the illustration passion into a full-time career when it’s business has the means to support you.
This strategy is called the ‘Overlap Technique’. It’s a way of making sure that you’ve got everything covered.
It entails becoming good at something on the side, building an audience for it and eventually supporting yourself financially through it.
Imagine that you’re doing something you love, you’re being supported by the people you care about in doing it full-time and that it can pay your bills – how amazing would that be?
It’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to be something that happens overnight. However, making a living out of doing something you love is worth the hustle, don’t you think?
I mentioned defining a passion by asking yourself if you would still do it even if you weren’t paid too. Well, do you care enough about that thing to build it up slowly in the proper manner first?
If you’re looking for a quick way to turn something you love into a moneymaker then this isn’t it.
In contrast, if you’re looking to nurture something you love into a long-lasting business you enjoy, you’re in the right place.
Don’t rush. Do it right.
There are four stages to ‘Overlapping’. These are:
Discovering your passion
Protecting your passion
Investing into your passion
Monetising your passion
The crucial mistake that everyone seems to make is monetising his or her passion first.
By relying on the passion to support them financially, too much stress is put on it succeeding. Putting the passion under too much stress will kill it.
“Killing the passion” may sound a little dramatic but it’s true.
Everybody has a friend or knows someone who quit their day job and tried to follow his or her dreams.
It’s not necessarily because they were terrible at what they loved doing. They failed simply because they were premature in trying to monetise it.
Even if they were successful they probably came to hate it right? It just became another job doing something they didn’t enjoy. They killed their passion.
Nurture your passion
You’ve got to follow the system if you want to succeed in making a living doing what you love.
Think of a lioness with her cub. If she doesn’t hunt for food, protect it from danger, if she doesn’t provide for her cub after it’s born then it will die.
However, given time the cub will grow, become stronger, learn skills, assets it can rely on to survive.
Ultimately the cub will grow into an adult lion and will be able to provide for the pack. Consequently, his mother will be able to rely on him to support her. One day he may even have cubs of his own.
Your passion is the lion cub. As it’s mother you need to nurture it. Moreover, you need to provide for it and give it the time it needs to grow to survive.
Motivation and the golden handcuffs
There’s a common problem I’ve heard being brought up by a lot of fellow illustrators. Similarly, motivation is something I’ve struggled with in recent years too.
Finding the motivation to produce when you’ve spent all your creativity up at the day job is a challenge.
This is one of the trickiest scenarios you can find yourself in. No doubt the solution may sound a lot simpler than the reality too.
The key to making the Overlap technique work is getting a day job unrelated to your passion.
If you didn’t go to university that might make complete sense to you. In contrast, if you spent a ludicrous amount of money getting your degree, like I did, that idea just doesn’t sound plausible.
The idea behind getting a day job unrelated to your passion is so that you don’t use up all of that precious creative energy at work.
I know from experience that sitting in front of an iMac for 9 hours a day can drain your creativity. After arriving home, cooking and eating dinner it’s a real struggle to attempt anything creative.
I also know from experience that a post-graduate job pays a lot better than most work out there. Moreover a post-graduate job that you’ve been progressing through for a number of years. So, why would you want to give that up?
Being employed in a well-paying job you don’t particularly enjoy can be referred to as being stuck in golden handcuffs.
I’ve been a prisoner of the golden handcuffs too. The reality is the day job you’re spending all of your creativity on during the day is actually more damaging to your dreams than you think.
Your Creativity Tank
Your creativity is precious. Preserving it is imperative to your success.
So, let’s put this into context.
It’s Monday morning and you’ve got to travel to and from work every day this week. However, on Saturday you’ll be heading home for the holidays to spend it with your family.
The problem is that money is tight. Moreover you’ve only got one a tank of petrol to last you the entire week. It’s going to take that entire tank to complete the road trip home. Consequently, the predicament arises: Are you just going to miss out on going home for the holidays?
Or, are you going to sacrifice the luxury of driving into work for this week? By doing this you can use the petrol to get home and see your family like you’d planned to.
Let’s be real: you’re going to walk. You’re going to ride a bike. It’s going to be hard but you’re going to do what it takes to preserve that precious tank of petrol.
It might rain a couple of days, it may even snow, but you’re going to persevere. Ultimately, you’re going to use the precious resource in the most effective way.
When you arrive at your destination you’re going to be so happy you made it. Incidentally all the effort is going to feel worth it.
Your creativity is that tank of petrol. Your Creativity Tank is a precious resource you need to preserve.
Protecting your Creativity Tank with the Overlap Technique
I’m not saying that it’s impossible to achieve your dreams while working at a day job related to your passion. However, achieving your dreams is going to be infinitely more difficult when you’re draining your Creativity Tank.
You’re going to need so much more to fill up the tank and it’s going to cost you.
You’ll be burning the fuel quick and you’ll burn yourself out, loose interest and kill your passion. We don’t want to kill the passion – we want to protect it.
The Overlap Technique is designed to allow you to take the time to find your passion and then protect it. Systematically you build it up to a stage where the passion can be monetised to support your lifestyle long term.
Therefore by working a day job unrelated to your passion, you can achieve this goal. Consequently pursuing your dreams in your spare time away from work is the most efficient solution.
In conclusion, the reason the job is unrelated to your passion is so you can protect the precious fuel in your Creativity Tank. You need to protect this so the fuel can be used to get closer to your dreams.
More about the Overlap Technique
Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing my own experiences and knowledge surrounding The Overlap Technique through a series of blog posts.
In the meantime, you can learn more about the concept of ‘Overlapping’ by visiting OverlapBook.com. Purchase the book written by the expert who came up with the overlap concept,Sean McCabe.
Sean truly is a master of business and pride’s himself on teaching people how to make a living doing what they love.
He provides a plethora of brilliant free and paid learning resources including courses. However, if you’re new to Sean’s work I recommend listening to his podcasts that are guaranteed to change your life. Click this link to get started with 5 FREE Episodes.
Overlap your passion and keep hustling.