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It’s a dream many of us have: launching a side business in our spare time that will one day grow so big we can officially quit our 9-5.
I’ve been living the day job/side hustle double life for six months now, and I’ve come to realize it’s not quite the glamorous vision I had when I first started (which largely involved me banging away at the keyboard at 2 a.m. while “She Works Hard for the Money” played inspiringly in the background).
If you’re genuinely interested in joining the league of side hustlers, I’d like let you know you’re getting into:
Work is still work. I adore writing, editing and anything related thereto — so freelance writing and editing truly is my “dream job.” But work — even work you love — is still hard, and just because you enjoy doing it doesn’t mean it won’t be exhausting at times. Especially if you’re trying to squeeze it into the evenings and weekends around a full-time job.
Be prepared for some resentment and frustration. Be prepared to get tired of the thing you love sometimes. It doesn’t mean you’re on the wrong path or that you don’t still love it. It just means it’s work. And work isn’t always fun.
Get used to 24/7. You know to expect some late nights and early mornings when you’re trying to pull off a side hustle in addition to a regular job. But you’d better get used to juggling this new, always-on schedule, because even if you manage to make your side hustle a full-time gig, the hours probably won’t change all that much. It might be a little less stressful because you won’t be torn between two sets of schedules, but a work-for-yourself life often requires you be available far more than at a traditional 9-5.
You will suddenly find a million previously dull things infinitely interesting. When you finally make the commitment to attack your side hustle for real, you will suddenly find yourself deeply compelled to attend to all sorts of random things instead o f your side hustle. This is the result of several factors: fear at failing if you begin, passive-aggressive resentment of all the work ahead of you, procrastinating because you’re not sure where to start.
A priorities list is your best friend as a side hustler. Not a To Do list (which just lets you pile up tons of things you’ll feel guilty about never getting around to), but a simple, actionable list of the 2-3 big things you need to accomplish that day. Get those done first, then worry about the rest if you have time. No matter how psyched you suddenly are to tackle that loose tile in the basement you’ve been ignoring for 10 years.
You will wonder why you’re doing it. Wouldn’t it just be easier to go back to the way things were? Were they really so bad? At least then I had some down time…
These are some of the things you will find yourself thinking, secretly in the back of your mind, even though you feel guilty about it. Because hustling is hard. It takes a lot of persistence, prioritizing, and sheer moxy to pull off. It’s only natural that at some point you’ll find yourself longing for the days when you could leave work behind once 5 p.m. hit, go home, and zone out in front of Dancing with the Stars with no other care in the world.
My strategy when this false nostalgia hits? Reminding myself why I started my hustle in the first place: Because I was miserable with the way things were before.
Other people will second-guess you. You’ve already got a job. You deserve a little rest. Be honest — are you ever really going to get this business off the ground?
These are some of the things your well-meaning friends and family will say to you when they find out what you’re trying to do. If they say them around the same time you’re saying similar things to yourself, it will be especially tough.
But hold to your dreams. You embarked on this crazy quest for a reason; keep reminding yourself of what that is, and don’t let the well-meaning naysayers discourage you.
You’ll get a glimpse of what you’re in for (and whether you’re cut out for it). Most people launch a side hustle in the hopes of one day working for themselves (cue to images of sipping mimosas on a beach with a laptop on your sun-warmed legs).
But the truth is that working for yourself isn’t necessarily easy; it’s just a different kind of challenge than being “in the grind.” It requires a whole different skill set of dedication, discipline and hard work. Which is why a side hustle is a great trial period for anyone thinking of working for themselves.
It gives you a chance to see what you’re getting yourself in for and to decide whether it’s right for you before you cut all ties with your steady paycheck. It gives you a chance to learn important self-employment skills like how to juggle multiple priorities, manage your energy and develop a work-life balance that works for you.
Mastering a side hustle may be a challenge, but if you dream of something better, it’s a great way to test the waters.
Kelly Gurnett, a.k.a. “Cordelia,” runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits, where she documents her attempts to rid her life of the things that don’t matter and focus more on the things that do. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.