April 07, 2018

Some Ideas on Living a Creative Life (Despite Having a Day Job)


Here at Preen, we’re fully aware that adult life doesn’t always go as smoothly (and look as beautiful) as curated Instagram feeds. We all face challenges amidst all the good things. Meet Mikka Wee, a former food editor-turned-working gal in Singapore, who’s about to share all the ups and downs that come with adulting and living. Welcome to Bless This Mess!

I am the type of person who needs to love what she does for work. In my three years here in Singapore, I’ve done two jobs—one in an advertising agency’s accounts department (not for me), and another in a PR agency’s social media department (I was a one-woman team handling eight accounts, and I burned out pretty quick). I guess the word that I am allergic to now is “agency,” as it is obviously not the work environment in which I thrive. However, I am very fortunate to be currently employed at a company that runs my favorite dessert cafés in Singapore. The reason I know I am happy is because I find joy in what I do—whether it be scooping ice cream, brainstorming for new product offerings, or creating social media content plans. The feeling is similar to what I felt as a food editor back in Manila—lots of fulfillment and good energy.

But I won’t discount the fact that it could be stressful. I work 14-hour days sometimes, especially if I have back-to-back office and café duties, which is why I’ve started to take my rest days very seriously. Apart from the hustle at work, I very much enjoy slow days with a warm mug of green tea and creating something with my hands. In my case, it’s traveling, journaling, getting lost inside a good book, writing in my blog, taking photos with my film camera, and of course, writing for my weekly column here at Preen.

People who are close to me like to tease and say I have a Napoleon Complex. This makes me laugh and roll my eyes, but I still wonder if I do. I’ve always liked keeping myself busy ever since I was young, so maybe it dragged on until now, but in any case, I like doing a lot of things. And for me, having a creative life separate from work where I can make things with my hands (whether it be journaling, writing, or taking photos) has always been special and meditative to me—it’s my key to not burning out. Here’s how I try to balance a hustling day job and a nourishing creative life.

Set Clear Boundaries Between Work Days and Rest Days

Your day job is very important, and it is a huge part of your life, but this doesn’t mean you should allow it to take over your entire life.

What I’ve learned in my advertising jobs is that putting your health and well-being on the line because you “work too hard” is not a badge of honor that you carry around and should be proud of. I used to think that burning the midnight oil and working weekends made me a good employee, but now I think that it was a dumb mindset because I plummeted to my lowest of low.

My dad always told me not to work hard but to work smart, and for me, part of working smart is knowing when to take a break and recharge. On rest days when I plan to journal or write, I put my phone in a separate room so I can really focus and not be tempted to check WhatsApp, or worse, fall into the deep, dark hole of social media.

Consume Heartily and with Purpose

Our days are limited, which is why I’ve learned to make the most of every action I do. Social media is tricky, but exercising awareness with the media you consume can steer it to your advantage. Choose your media wisely—whether it be books, social media, or online articles.

Plot Down Creative Milestones or Goals. Invest in them.

Every month, I map out the things I want to accomplish from a creative, self-fulfilling standpoint. Whether it’s traveling (which I always plan ahead for because of funds), finishing this particular scrapbook, or writing four blog posts every month or finishing two books, it pays to write down your goals and plan for them.

I like doing this because I feel that it gives my life purpose beyond my day job. I think of what I’d like to achieve apart from my work’s milestones and write them down on paper because it’s my medium of choice. Take some time out, think of that Big Project or whatever creative goals you want to achieve and plan for them.

Learning Is a Two-Way Street

Apart from the financial stability it provides, there is so much you can learn from your day job. This sounds so much easier said than done, but if you try to view work as an opportunity to learn and grow, I’m sure you can see that there is so much knowledge and helpful tips that you can pick up and apply to your personal creative projects, and vice versa.

Knowing when it’s time to loosen your grip on the reigns of your day job and succumb to the freedom of me-time is one of the most important things I’ve learned in this lifetime. I’m taking it bird-by-bird, step-by-step. I get excited about all these personal plans and projects, but of course, I need to prioritize. Through planning, exercising willpower, and taking small, progressive steps, you can definitely achieve little wins that’ll get you closer to achieving your creative goals.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.


Photo courtesy of Pexels

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Filed Under:

adulting, Bless This Mess, Creative, culture, Day Job, Guidelines, Mikka Wee, tips

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