Combining a Side Business, Volunteer Work and a Full-time Career?

How to find time to do all the things you are passionate about, the best you can? A question I have been learning the answer to ever since I was 6 years old.

I have always had to keep several balls in the air, and being devoted to more than one project at the same time. The story of my life. But I must elaborate, it is a life that I chose myself. Do you also have a passion for doing different things and do you gain energy from being involved in and/or leading multiple ventures, including a full-time job? If yes, then keep reading:)

As a kid, I was dancing all the time, and everywhere, so when I turned four, my parents thought it was a high time I stopped dancing with the furniture around the house, and signed me up for dance lessons. Growing up, I had to learn to successfully balance studies and doing ballroom dancing and sports on a professional level – I was competing at national and international tournaments. Starting as just a little girl’s hobby, dancesport turned into a main outside of studying occupation.

When I chose to continue my university education abroad, I also knew that I could never live with having dancing part-time. I wanted all of it, or nothing. So, I had to move on, and find something else I believed in, something that was exciting me and was worth fighting for – and to conquer it. Saying “goodbye” to dancesport was a tough decision, but it opened the door to other new and amazing opportunities I had never considered.

Ever since, I have been on a journey to discover what are the things I love doing, and what my next dreams should be. During my bachelor and masters degree at Aarhus University (Denmark), I found out I had a solid interest in business development and entrepreneurship. Meanwhile, I wanted to continue my work for human rights, equality and anti-discrimination. At the same time, I aspired to write a book, have a personal blog, and still do sports and to travel as much as possible. Since I love working on business development and sustainability projects full-time, I have found out that with a lot of drive and good planning, I can still work on my other passions on the side. Here are some examples of those:

  • My boyfriend and I developed an athleisure clothing line in 2016
  • I wrote and published my debut non-fiction novel How to Thrive Abroad in September 2017, sharing personal stories and lessons learned by living abroad, within topics such as career, going after your dream job, goal-setting, and finding your place in the world. The project has received a lot of positive feedback so far, and it fills my heart with happiness to see the book being available around the world!
  • In my spare time, I am a goodwill ambassador/volunteer at UN Youth Denmark, where I am responsible for one of our working groups called Equality and Projects, which works towards promoting gender equality and anti-discrimination.
  • Even though not professionally, I keep doing sports as much as possible, currently focusing on gymnastics, yoga and weights workouts for strength and endurance.
  • I am fortunate to be able to travel the world, and I try to see as much as possible, experience other cultures as fully as I can.

How? Below are few of the main lessons I have learned about achieving my goals, when combining a full-time job I am passionate about, with a side business, without compromising any of my dreams:

Do not be afraid to be bright and different.

When I was a kid, I often had moments when I felt uneasy about coming up with ideas that were different from the mainstream opinions. I sometimes even felt concerned that I was having them, and quietly thought that this ‘different thinking’, which I later found out was referred to as ‘thinking outside of the box’, was odd. I even wondered whether I should try to hide it. I have learned that you are not wrong to be bright, creative and to think differently. You are never wrong to be yourself. If you meet people who do not appreciate, understand or welcome the ‘challenging of the conventional thinking’ approach, it only means that they do not wish to go outside of their comfort zone.

Start with the things you are passionate about.

What did you always want to do? Start your own company, write a book, create your own blog, draw paintings, or do fitness coaching, even if it is on a volunteer basis. Your passion does not necessarily need to be your main source of income! However, it can be that extra thing that gives you energy, purpose, light. These are much bigger rewards than any monetary compensations.

Don’t stop learning.

There is no such thing as being ‘accomplished enough’. Everything you learn is only a foundation for you to continue developing. Turn mistakes into your pool of lessons learned. I have a reserve of mistakes, which I am now extremely grateful for, as thanks to those, I have grown and developed tremendously. (Examples of those mistakes I have turned into trial-and-error experience you can read in Part II, Making Things Happen, Chapter 8 of my book).

Be open for opportunities.

Hold on to your principles.

I get extremely unnerved by things that do not feel right, and always speak up openly when something is out of place. You must be true to yourself, clichéd as it is, and not do what you think people would approve of; instead, stand up for what is right, challenge common believes, and do not compromise your ethics, but go after what you want, and what makes you happy.

Find an issue you care about.

Admit what is meaningful to you, and where you would like to make a difference, and then start solving the problem. You may think, ‘Who am I to change the world? It is much bigger than me’, and this is where you are wrong. If not you, then who? (…)

You can read the rest of the lessons, as well as my personal stories, aspirations, and tips about how to go after your goals in my book How to Thrive Abroad. (Available on all Amazon distribution channels as paperback and Kindle, as well as on SAXO book portal). Be the best person you can be and follow your passion to the fullest.


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