You can get fired from a fallback job

Artist Anna Kincaide majored as an interior designer. She thought it was the safer route to go creatively, rather than “becoming one more starving artist.”

During the crash she was let go when her company went out of business. Out of desperation she turned her attention to her first love: painting. 

Lo — behold — today she is earning a better living as an artist than she ever did in her fallback career. And it is far more gratifying.

Fallbacks are likely to be no safer than your dream career. You can get fired from a fallback job. You can get downsized, rightsized, capsized . . . 

I’ve spoken to a number of successful artists who went for it after suffering the humiliation of losing their safe choice.

Look, your day job is a means to your dream job. I believe it was Austin Kleon who first alerted me to a variation on this theme. It’s something I’d always lived but hadn’t articulated.

You needn’t rush out and quit your job to simulate the terrifying effects of having no income coming in. 

But it does mean you can work steadily each week toward the ideal. So you can be the one to quit the safe job when the time is ripe.

The corollary: No jobs are safe anymore — why not go for what you really want? 

Safe jobs come with deadening effects if you stay in them too long. Side effects like boredom. Like overwhelm in the face of demands you don’t care about. Like feeling you’re in an empty pursuit of goals set by others.

Anna’s stint in the design world served her well in her art career. She learned she was capable. She learned how to deal with an array of personalities. It honed her desire for autonomy. It spurred a fiercer dedication to her own artistic expression.

Which brings us to a second corollary: There are no mistakes, only pathways. 

For you 

Evan Griffith
Click here for (occasional) notes at the intersection of creativity and spirit. Once a month, maybe.

I want Alan Watts' hair
"Failure's such a creative gift"