Earlier this year I gave a talk about my career progression and the ultimate quitting of my day job to pursue e.m.papers as well as creative side-projects like Steal This Process and Wahlmünchnerin (my blog about Munich).

Towards the end of the talk, I used the graphic pictured above to describe the place I’m continually striving to get to, ‘the sweet spot’. A state of balance between meaning and creative fulfillment, financial security and freedom.

This image seemed to resonate with a lot of the audience (several asked for a copy of it afterwards.) As exciting as it is to pursue your dreams, once the initial thrill wears off, the very real concern of making ends meet can easily overshadow everything. Ironically, this puts a damper on creativity. Rather than focus on creating work that we feel inspired by, we start to think about what will sell.

This year, I’ve remedied some of this conundrum by freelancing for a few months. The honest truth is, I can make exponentially more money doing what I used to do, even though I hate it, than I can with all of my indie-business and creative pursuits. Hopefully that won’t always be the case, but it’s a fact, and it needs to be said.

The good news is, I only needed to do this for a short time to create enough ‘cushion’ for well until and after the end of the year. It was hard for me to do this, it didn’t fit my vision of the happily ever after of ‘Quitting My Day Job’.

Having to suit up and go back into the world of ‘day job’ work had it’s benefits though. After after almost three years away, it showed me how much I value being able to work for myself and have control over my schedule. And by easing some of the financial pressure of generating my own income, I feel I can give myself permission to experiment, explore my creativity and put the fun and love back into my work again.

Finding the sweet spot is an ongoing process of experimentation, and the road is not a straight one. How about you? What’s your sweet spot? How do you find your way there?