Getting the Most Out of Your 9 to 5

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So many of us spend years in a 9 to 5 job with a slight feeling of discontent.  There’s got to be something else out there right?

Remember those younger days, when we dresssed in our favorite career costume to school? Giggles and dreams of schoolchildren’s becoming a doctor or football player permeated the hallways.

Aaaah!! Where did those dreams go? The truth is that most of us never pursued our childhood fantasies and allowed our career to drift aimlessly.

But what happens when that 9 to 5 is not only boring, but leaves you unable to meet meet your financial needs?  I was once in that place, and trust me, it sucks.


My Experience

Working is not just about meeting basic needs;  your 9 to 5 should be rewarding enough to make you fulfilled and enjoy a bit of luxury. How big of a luxury? Study after study proves it doesn’t matter. We humans just want to feel human and connect with others – be it around a billards table, at the bar, or at the coffee.

I once worked in the print industry in 2000, and shortly afterward, the printing industry faced many challenges with the advent of social media. For two years, my company experienced downsizing and dwindling business.  Growth? Ha! We only hoped to maintain our jobs under increasing stress.

I could have passively stood by until my job was obsoleted, but I chose action. Within a year I transferred to the wastewater compliance industry and eventually parlayed my skills into a remote position with a high degree of autonomy.

Working remotely and with flexible hours afforded me the opportunity to upgrade my skills though formal education. After two years of working in the new company, I earned a certificate as a valve corrosion specialist. My new skill gave me a substantial pay raise and got me out of the office. I now consult with other engineers and product specialists on how to maximize valve life.

A 9 to 5 career becomes boring only if you box yourself into a linear way of thinking. This isn’t 1953. There’s no gold watch waiting for you after 50 years of service. You will change jobs. Let that changing of jobs be at your own pace, not someone else’s.

And do whatever you can to make that next job bring you ever so close to your dream job.


Tips to Make the Most of Your 9 to 5

Plan the Work, Work The Plan

This common project management adage makes a lot of sense when applied to your career as well. Every stop on your job path should be planned, with the understanding that nothing is set in stone.

Recently, I started feeling less challenged with my 9 to 5, so I ventured into freelance. I enrolled in a short course on content writing and joined the freelancer world.

The new challenges pushes me in a different direction. My goal? To get myself a robot vacuum for Christmas this year strictly from my freelancing jobs. Having a set goal gives me financial clarity and something I can celebrate when my goals are met.

As of now, I put in three hours every day: one hour in the morning and two hours after my 9 to 5.


Keep The Connections Warm

Let me repeat: 50 years and the gold watch doesn’t exist anymore. Don’t let this prospect dim your enthusiasm, rather adapt accordingly.

I have lunch with people in my industry once a week. I even reach out to strangers on LinkedIn that I believe could mutually benefit from connecting. Doing so is insurance in case my job goes the way of the print company I worked for some 20 years ago.

I also once had a 9 to 5 that slowly made me a stranger in my home. At the beginning management touted work-life balance and by the end they expected me to work regular Saturdays for I had no time for my loved ones. It was not worth it for me even though the pay was great.

We’ve all heard “your network is your net worth.” As you build your career, concentrate in building your social networks as well. The kind of social capital you have as investment determines the value of your work-life.


Consider Commission Based Jobs

One sweet way to enjoy your day job a bit is when commissions/bonuses are attached to the work. I am an advocate of getting paid to perform. We all perform a bit better when there’s some pressure involved. Should you have the right commission based agreement, the sky is the limit.


Start a Side Hustle

For years I djed on weekends and even built a multi-op dj business. There’s no right side hustle, but there’s a right one for you.

Big on family time? Here’s some jobs you can do from home without interrupting family time.

  • Content writing
  • Data entry
  • Picture and video production


If you are the type that likes spending time outdoor after your 9 to 5 then you may want to consider these options: The skills don’t require schooling are easy and rewarding in non-monetary ways:

  • Uber driver
  • Dog Walker
  • Tree trimmer