Regular readers of my blog The Present Writer might notice that I always do more than one job at a time. Many have asked me if I have ever felt exhausted or how I make sure I manage both roles effectively.
Contrary to popular belief, juggling two jobs doesn’t necessarily result in more fatigue. From my experience, it might be less stressful than dealing with one single occupation.
This article will reveal why I have pursued more than one career and why it matters to do so, especially for young and ambitious people.
When did I start doing two jobs at a time?
It can be traced back to when I was still a university student majoring in International Studies. I liked this discipline, but at such a young age, I could not clearly understand how to apply such macro-knowledge in real life.
Also, witnessing some acquaintances struggling to find a job and transitioning to a different field after graduation, I realized that if I did not want to share the same fate, I had to take the harder road as a student.
Besides studying on campus, I decided to juggle multiple responsibilities, such as tutoring, volunteering, and even doing business. I have detailed them in another episode entitled “Jobs I Did in My Life.”
I become more productive when I do two jobs at a time.
This isn’t probably true to anyone, but I am actually less productive when I have abundant time at my disposal. More time doesn’t equal more things done because I do not perform at my best when I feel I have all the time in the world.
For example, if I have eight hours for an English assignment, it will take me exactly eight hours to finish it though. But give me more work in the same amount of time and I’ll finish them all on time. What happens to me is consistent with Parkinson’s Law, where work can expand to fill the time available for its completion.
I managed to keep the habit of studying and working at the same time, even when I studied abroad. For one thing, it helped to enhance my time management skills. But it wasn’t the only reason. Some other external conditions played a part, and the following story was one of them.
Juggling two jobs for a better life
An unexpected event set me on the path of building more than one career, realizing the equal importance of a second career regardless of having a dream job.
In my fourth year as a Ph.D. student, I was selected to attend the faculty board’s meetings to contribute ideas from the perspective of a Ph.D. student. The experience meant a lot to me as it enlightened me about what life professors have — the tasks they handle, the pressures or administrative issues they struggle with, and so on.
Had I not been in those meetings, I would have assumed that professors only managed research and teaching tasks. And if so, I would not know that my beloved associate professor (who I featured in another episode of The Present Writer) was denied promotion to full professor again.
The news was a real shock to me. My teacher was a kind, intelligent person and a learned, influential scholar in the academic world. I supported him during the dossier preparation process, and it took me two days to compile his several-page-long list of research.
I could not understand why he was not awarded a promotion. Some problems with his dossier or the faculty infighting probably caused his failure.
From his perspective, the tenure and promotion system has its deficiencies. For example, an associate professor can keep reapplying for promotion to full professor until they eventually make it. Yet, assistant professors (beginner-level professors like I am now) have a single-shot opportunity to become associate professors. They will be fired if they fail on their first try.
Another older professor recalled being rejected because a board member voted against him out of personal disfavor. The news came as a shock and plunged him into a crisis that needed a year-long treatment.
That sounds like an exaggeration, especially for those unfamiliar with the academic system. But that kind of crisis does happen, I can affirm.
Most professors focus on a single job, thus they are often under heavy pressure. They are pressed to have their works published in international journals and have grants to support their studies. My teacher had dedicated himself to the university for 12 years when he applied for promotion to full professor. It is easy to tell how much the job meant to him.
I felt at a loss for words sitting in such a tense meeting for the first time. So I pulled myself together by scribbling in my notebook.
Running repeatedly all over my notebook was the one sentence, “Never just work as a professor.” Why so? I desperately wanted to pursue my dream of becoming a professor. However, with such a living example, I decided not to put all my eggs in one basket by sticking to a single profession, no matter how passionate I was about it.
Then, you guessed it, I launched The Present Writer, started my own business in America and Vietnam, published a book, and diversified my income in other ways.
Your multiple careers should start with doing what you like
It’s never easy to take on more than one job at a time. I do feel pressured sometimes but never discouraged as they are what I love to do.
I used to commit to a nine-to-five job as my only career, but I felt like dying a slow death. I was in a constant state of burnout and too drained to do anything after work.
Meanwhile, I am always full of energy and enthusiasm now that I’m juggling multiple jobs. And such enthusiasm pays off with more income. My passion-based careers allow me to enjoy more positive feelings, freedom, and happiness.
Besides, managing more than one job at a time is beneficial to mental health. My second career has transformed my attitude and perspective in good ways. A second job can enhance your image in your co-worker’s eyes as they can feel your positive energy. They are impressed because you do not bury yourself in a single job to make ends meet and because you have choices.
Your second career can also earn you more respect at work. More often than not, many companies press their employees into taking on extra tasks or working longer hours only because they seem to desperately need the job and unwillingly give up their only means of livelihood. You are more likely to stand up against those unjust practices when you have a second job.
On the other hand, you will experience bad days at work even if you get a dream job and stay in a non-toxic environment. Your second job will allow you to take a break and distance yourself from pressure, which will improve your mental health and well-being.
When a hobby turns into your second career
You can do what you enjoy for the sake of a hobby without making money out of it. Or you can turn your hobby into a career that can do you wonders. It’s profitability that draws the line between a hobby and a career. Speaking of this, many argue that we should not monetize our hobbies as money can spoil them in the long run.
I used to bear the same thought. Over time, I have been aware that it is such an outdated perception. My blog, The Present Writer, was born out of passion, and I poured my head and my heart into it without thinking of making a profit in the first place.
However, I have realized that a solid financial resource allows me to focus on creating content wholeheartedly. I do not need to bother about collaborating with other people who I may not necessarily like.
There is more to the story, but in short, you can have a hobby for your own sake or make it your second career that has a positive influence on the community, creates values, and earn you an income.
Building a second career from what you enjoy doesn’t mean ruining your passion. Your passion will continue to fuel you and even grow stronger if you can keep your values and have the financial resources to nurture them.
Hopefully, this article inspires you to consider starting or strengthening your second career. It might not be glamorous, but it can be as simple as running an online business.
For those who have yet to start your first career, you should neither rush nor worry too much. Instead, focus on diversifying your experiences and stepping out of your comfort zone to figure out what you want to do and how you can set up your second career. More importantly, you should prioritize personal growth to create a positive influence on the community or aim at higher ends in life.