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Don't Live to Work, Work to Live: The Unseen Path to Building Your Dream Life While Surviving Your 9-5

Escape The Hidden Costs of Your 9-5 Before Regret Eats You Alive

By Jerrell JohnPublished 3 months ago 13 min read

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all people are created equal, that we are endowed with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

These immortal words, penned by Thomas Jefferson, capture the deepest desire within every human heart - the longing for freedom, the autonomy to participate in the creation of our lives, and the ability to pursue our versions of the good life.

Yet today, these self-evident truths seem more like distant dreams reserved only for the exceptionally committed few.

The cold, hard truth is that the vast majority of us remain trapped on the Hamster Wheel of Mediocrity - running ever faster yet seemingly getting nowhere.

We dutifully play out the same script that society hands us:

Graduate high school > Get a college degree > Land an entry-level job > Work your way up the career ladder > Retire at 65 > Hope you saved enough money to afford leisure and healthcare in your golden years > Die

This life path is sold to us as the American Dream itself - a one-size-fits-all roadmap to success, financial stability, and fulfillment.

But scratch away the shiny packaging, and you'll discover it's actually a Beautiful Prison that gradually sucks away decades of precious resources (time, attention, & potential) while chaining you to the steering wheel of someone else's vision.

That sentence should scare you.

Over a long enough time horizon, within the corporate grind, that initial wide-eyed optimism gets replaced by a numbing acceptance - "At least I can pay the bills."

But a spark of hope lies buried deep within.

A splinter in your mind telling you this can't be all there is...there MUST be more to life than mindlessly racing on this neverending hamster wheel of mediocrity.

A path that rejects exchanging the majority of your waking hours for a modest paycheck and 2 weeks of vacation a year.

A trail that leads to freedom over your time and income while doing soul-nourishing work.

Because it isn’t obvious to me, it’s work altogether that people despise. It’s more like the work we’re assigned is not only nonstimulating, but it’s DRAINING - not in a good way.

My name is Jerrell and from 2019 (getting my first job at McDonald's) to 2024 (currently working at Dominos as a delivery driver), I’ve been racing on this Hamster Wheel of Mediocrity right alongside you… however, just a little differently.

After a month of college, I quickly realized - it was producing the same dread I experienced in high school, so I dropped out & ignorantly started down my path of personal development.

With no real plan, I followed & listened to the advice the gurus at the time were telling me was the best money-making avenue to go into - Forex. I decided to pursue that while working at any job I could get hired for, which primarily consisted of warehouses.

So. Many. Warehouses...

I hated every soul-crushing minute of these jobs - the rigid 9 to 5 schedule, the meaningless busywork, the unstimulating conversations about trying to get laid on the weekend.

But I told myself this was just a temporary stepping stone on my way to bigger and better things.

As the weeks turned into months (adding up to the first year out of high school), nothing changed.

I realized Forex wasn’t for me (there was no passion cultivated for it), but during that time, I learned that I had a deep passion for learning.

I stumbled upon Jordan Peterson at this time & he convinced me to focus my efforts on writing.

While I kept diving into that rabbit hole, my day jobs did nothing but keep me afloat financially & drain my soul of joy.

I kept waiting for that magical day when everything would just click—when I'd be able to cash out on the (seemingly) courageous decision to venture down the unbeaten path I chose and start truly living.

All that came was unnecessary conflict & foolishness (meaning, doing the wrong thing even when I have the right set of beliefs to act on the right thing) on my part.

However, I never quit. I kept experimenting, exploring new avenues, & noting patterns observed across my various job ventures & business attempts.

6 months ago (three & a half years in), I realized even though I’m not quitting… I’m not taking this seriously either.

Although I was doing more than those I observed locally around me, I started to think: Comparing myself to those who have radically different goals they're working towards is pretty dumb.

That's when I discovered this whole universe of people (starting with Dan Koe) building personal brands and digital businesses based on their interests instead of what their college degrees said they should do.

They were writers...making a GREAT living doing what they loved through the power of their personal brand.

When I switched my focus to them, something snapped. I refused to continue wasting my creative gifts and precious time in exchange for poverty-level wages.

I began voraciously executing on the things I knew I needed to do:

- Evolving the thing in my that aligned with my vision

- Disposing of the things that didn’t align

- Learning while building

However, the first roadblock I faced almost IMMEDIATELY was: How was I supposed to sustainably increase my inputs in favor of my personal brand while balancing my day job.

I share all this because I don’t think enough people tackle this topic.

Granted, everyone’s situation is subjectively unique, but in sharing how I approached overcoming this hurdle, I hope an “aha” moment is sparked & you can apply what’s useful to your situation.

But I won't lie to you - it takes persistence and faith during what can feel like overwhelming odds.

Because as badly as you might want to break free from soul-crushing work, fear & pain are ever-present forces keeping you trapped on the Hamster Wheel of Mediocrity.

Fear hisses its malicious lies:

- You hardly deserve more.

- Callings are for other people.

- You're not nearly good enough.

Pain plays its part, too, numbing us to fear's falsehoods. Why fight for more when it hurts less to settle for less?

And so we resign ourselves to colorless survival - Our brightness clouded by fear's lies, our fire doused by pain's indifference.

But what if I told you there is another option ready for you to access RIGHT NOW?

An option that trades reliance on a single full-time job for leveraging your unique skills and specific knowledge to attract an audience who want your unique perspective?

That option is Personal Branding (aka, building a readership).

And it's an absolute game-changer.

Here's the reality - huge shifts in society and the economy have created massive opportunities for regular people to build income stability by cultivating a readership through the cultivation of digital presence.

Let me explain...

For most of recorded history, individuals relied on large entities for employment, identity, and overall guidance.

Things began shifting towards individual empowerment during the Renaissance days when artists broke free from wealthy patronage by selling their work in this cool little marketplace called capitalism.

But institutions still dominated...that is, until the internet came and turned everything upside down.

Whereas success used to depend on being accepted by gatekeepers of large institutions, the democratization of knowledge and platforms on the internet allowed regular individuals to compete.

A blogger can reach as many or MORE people as a New York Times reporter.

An indie musician on Spotify gains the same distribution channel access as signed artists.

A YouTube chef attracts bigger audiences than shows on the Food Network.

And this shift of power from institutions to individuals has been accelerating rapidly over the past decade.

Just look at how the internet reshaped entire industries practically overnight - destroying longstanding business models while minting new millionaires.

Even traditional employment is experiencing major uncertainty as artificial intelligence threatens to eliminate 40% of jobs in the next 15 years.

Rather than pouring endless energy climbing the rungs of a corporate ladder that could disappear overnight, smart people (Creative thinkers) are taking control by building their own financial stability.

They are creating unique personal brands to attract like-minded, engaged, & supportive audiences who gain value from their voice, knowledge, and creations.

And with multiple streams of income fueled by the leverage of their personal brand, they are finally free to live life on their own terms.

The goal here is NOT building wealth for wealth's sake but the FREEDOM, SECURITY and AUTONOMY that comes with it.

Freedom to direct your most precious resources - your time, energy, creativity, and attention - towards your deepest passions rather than sacrificing them to build someone else's dream for meager wages.

This is what I call: Building Your Dream Life While Surviving Your 9 to 5.

It's about taking active control NOW over your participation in the creation of your life on your own terms instead of passively accepting mediocrity until age 65.

Look, I get that trading the security of your full-time job paycheck to risk striking out on your own sounds scary as hell.

But for me:

The pain of being stuck where I am surpasses the pain of actualizing my potential.

Significant freedom requires risk. Staying trapped on the Hamster Wheel of Mediocrity might seem "secure," but it comes at the enormous price of wasting your best mental resources building someone else's visions for poverty wages.

Every day, week, and year that ticks by in a purposeless job steals portions of our short time here in existence, bringing that bitter taste of regret closer and closer.

I don't want that for you.

You deserve so much better.

But wishing for a different life won't change anything... Execution will.

The exciting news is the opportunity for change is closer than you think.

Odds are you already possess far more than enough knowledge, talent and skill needed to begin building your freedom path right now.

Cultivating personal brand leverage is simpler than you probably realize too.

It just requires consistently showing up to add value within your niche.

The more you give, the more gravitational pull your brand gains to attract the perfect opportunities and income streams for you.

But before we dive into the specifics, I want you to start wrapping your mind around personal branding for what it truly offers.

This isn't just learning some tactics to make money online so you can quit your job.

It's reclaiming AUTHORITY over how your most precious resources - time, energy, creativity, and attention - get utilized each day.

It's boldly proclaiming FREEDOM over fear - where external limitations cease to control how you choose to live and earn.

It's accessing abundant living through pursuing your PURPOSE rather than conforming to society's monotonous roadmap that benefits the few at the expense of the many.

You contain TREMENDOUS gifts just waiting to enrich the world...but first, you must break free from the shackles of mediocrity keeping you trapped.

You hold the power to leverage your skills, knowledge, and creativity to build multiple streams of income through an engaged audience who wants what you have.

But you must choose to take the first step…

We've explored why exchanging the majority of your waking hours solely for a modest paycheck gradually drains your most precious resources—time, energy, creativity—to build someone else’s vision.

This painful truth doesn't need to be our fate.

Personal branding allows you to establish multiple income streams fueled by audience engagement rather than sold hours. This grants the freedom to focus your resources upon creative projects that light your soul on fire.

But this pathway requires strategy and systems to prevent getting overwhelmed by the swarm of problems arising with each new endeavor.

That's why I developed The Purpose Pathway - a roadmap guiding intentional movement from abstract ideals into concrete wins.

The Purpose Pathway is designed as a transformative roadmap that guides individuals through the journey of intentional success—The progressive realization of a worthy ideal.

It is structured to help you align your actions with your deepest values and visions, transforming abstract aspirations into concrete achievements.

Here's how The Purpose Pathway unfolds:

Vision and Anti-Vision Clarification

You need to create a vision & anti vision (get clear of what you want & don’t want).

Define Your Vision: Start by vividly picturing your desired future. This vision should encapsulate not just your goals but the essence of what you wish to achieve and become. Imagine your ideal lifestyle 5 or 10 years (or just pick the farthest time horizon you can) from now.

- How you spend your time.

- Who you surround yourself with.

- The impact your work has on others.

Envision this future until it feels real and attainable.

Define Your Anti-Vision: Equally important is defining what you are moving away from. Identifying your anti-vision helps create a clear contrast between where you are and where you don't want to end up, sharpening your focus on your true direction. What habits, behaviors or environments currently drain your energy or fail to align with your values? Imagine how sticking with the status quo will make you feel 5 or 10 years from now if you don't course correct.

Let this contrast fuel your motivation.

Set Transformational Goals: Break your overarching vision into transformative goals. These are significant milestones that, once reached, will collectively move you closer to your vision. For example, if financial independence is part of your vision, set tangible targets for your ideal income level per month or year. If creativity is key, define projects or platforms that will let you showcase your talents.

Skill-Level Adjustment: Keep breaking them down till you’ve reached your current skill level (The sweet spot between overwhelmed & bored). This step is crucial for maintaining a balance between challenge and capability, ensuring continuous engagement without burnout.

This takes humility.

Be ruthlessly honest with yourself here - no shame in admitting you have more to learn. The goal is progress, not instant perfection.

Focused Project Initiative: Now pick ONE goal to focus on for 1-3 months by creating a project that will be the vehicle you’ll use to achieve the goal. This goal becomes the centerpiece of a project that will concentrate your efforts and resources. Limiting your focus is essential so you can channel energy into one breakthrough at a time.

Establish Daily Contributions: Commit to a daily quota of work towards this project. Regular input guarantees momentum and gradual progress towards your goal. Make this quota specific and trackable - hours spent writing each week, number of emails sent, social posts created.

Measurements drive accountability.

Develop a Supporting System: Construct a system for maintaining & improving your ability to perform tasks necessary for the completion of the project (ensuring sustainability). This might involve creating new habits, utilizing tools, or scheduling specific times for focused work. Sometimes the project will be the construction of the system itself.

The system carries you.

Incorporate Essential Daily Blocks

Deep Focus Block: Intense, dedicated work periods for project advancement. Protect a chunk of time for uninterrupted creation. Over time, refine and ritualize conditions to enter flow states consistently here.

Research Block: Time set aside for exploring new ideas and solutions. Never stop learning. Dedicate pockets of time to consume books, courses, case studies to expand your vision and toolkit.

Recharge Block: Intentional breaks for mental and physical recovery. We drastically undervalue rest. Recharge blocks replenish resources to channel into deep focus periods. Move your body, stimulate your senses, & nourish relationships here.

Self-Correction Block: Reflective periods for evaluating progress and making necessary adjustments. At least weekly, assess what parts of your system boost or hinder goal progression. Self-correct instead of self-criticize. The system evolves through your commitment to improvement.

Engage in Active Problem Solving: As you invest in your system, you'll become more attuned to potential threats and challenges. Problems will begin registering in your awareness. You’ve attached your identity to the survival of your system. This heightened awareness leads to a proactive stance towards problem-solving. Loss aversion is fuel for firefighting and future-proofing your system.

Experience Meaning-Enriched Days: The Purpose Pathway turns every day into a meaningful quest. You'll cycle through identifying issues, experimenting with solutions, & documenting your journey through self-correction, eventually solving the problem, then putting measures in place to prevent a similar problem from occurring & making steady progress until the next problem rears its head then the loop repeats. Each problem solved strengthens your system and brings you closer to your vision.

The Purpose Pathway reimagines the journey to success as a series of intentional, strategic steps. It persuades you to craft a life of meaningful achievement by aligning your daily actions with your highest desires. This pathway is not just a guide but a way of living purposefully, where each step taken is a deliberate move toward realizing your most significant potential.

I hope walking through the Purpose Pathway framework has sparked insights into how you can escape the 9-5 grind by taking an intentional approach to building your dream life. But I understand - this all sounds simpler than the messy reality of execution.

The Purpose Pathway requires deep trust in the process of constant refinement and self-correction guided by your vision. But uncertainty and messiness are the currency of creativity. By boldly stepping into the unknown, fresh lands awaiting your exploration gradually unveil themselves.

This is what Building Your Dream Life While Surviving Your 9-5 demands - transforming fear into fuel for the creative impulse to guide you one awakened step at a time.

The only way out is through. And what lies on the other side of persisting through doubt, distraction, and uncertainty are rewards exponentially greater than the effort endured.

I'm reminded of visionary Steve Jobs' famous commencement speech revealing his secret for overcoming what felt like a hopeless situation when initially booted from Apple.

He said: "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever."

You hold the pen - and power - to author your life on your terms instead of accepting the narrative of mediocrity society hands you.

But wake-up calls rarely arrive as magical epiphanies but instead, as whisperings urging you to notice what doesn't align between how you spend your days and how you wish they felt.

Stay persistent, and victory is inevitable. The world needs your unique creative gifts.

Everything you need is already within you.

Now go leverage it.


About the Creator

Jerrell John

A visionary constructing his life purpose as an Author/Educator by building an impactful personal brand (& documenting the process).

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