Are you on the schedule of work, eat, sleep, repeat? Here’s why it’s time to take up that side hustle or project you’ve been dreaming about.
People sometimes say entrepreneurs suffer from “Shiny Object Syndrome.”
Remember when you were little and wanted to play the drums or soccer, or take up dance? Your parents would sign you up, buy the required gear, and drive you to practice. But maybe you didn’t practice as much as necessary, skipped a few lessons, and eventually quit those hobbies.
Fast forward to now. Let’s say I told you to commit five years to a hobby like karate. You’d probably get pretty good at it, earn a few belts, and advance to higher levels. You have the stamina and attention span to stick with it and improve. You’re 100 percent in and down to learn martial arts.
Replace karate with that desire to work on the side hustle that has been on your mind for some time. Maybe you have a great idea for an ebook or blog series. Maybe you have some rough sketches for creating a new product or app. Maybe it’s a community group or event you’re dying to launch in the wild.
Whatever your side project is, how long have you allowed yourself to think about it without actually doing something?
Here’s why you should dedicate yourself to the side hustle you’ve been dreaming about:
Side projects allow you to experiment
Try picturing your idea as an experiment rather than a side project. Unleash those shiny thoughts floating around your mind.
This “learning by doing” approach is called experiential learning. It gives you the testing grounds for experimenting with new ideas and ways of working. Since it’s an experiment, you may apply the lessons learned to your business or career.
Side projects can be very beneficial for you, both personally and at work. You could even develop a new revenue stream, skill or career while pursuing it. Who knows, the side project may not be on the side for long.
There’s so little to lose
Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from pursuing an idea. Since the side project is yours, the margin for error is significantly minimized. You’re not taking time away from coworkers or investing money in a new business venture that affects your day job. The only risk is relinquishing some of your free time. Besides that, what have you got to lose?
Here’s how you know if your side hustle is a bust. If the project is taking too much time away from your actual, salary-earning work, you need to change something. Try partnering up with someone to share the workload or designate a specific time of the week for working on it. Don’t eliminate your key responsibilities at the expense of a side project.
Side projects keep you fresh and motivated
The more balls you’re juggling in life, the more you’re forced to train a laser focus on side projects. Your time is precious, so you want to spend it well. Back in high school, I got involved in choir, track, student clubs, and still managed a 4.0 GPA. I perform best in my life when more of my time is consumed.
When I’m not at Lemonly, the infographic design agency I co-founded, I work on a few side projects, including my 8 for the Day notebooks, Point Letter newsletter, and running the local Startup Weekend. All of this helps me unplug and open my mind to new ideas and possibilities.
Every single time you bring a fresh perspective into your life, you’re able to stretch your creativity and push yourself further. Challenging yourself will leave you hungry for more. This newfound energy will feed back into your work life. Trust me.
Tips for getting serious about your side hustle
Here’s a few tips I’ve discovered through my experiences: (Click here to tweet these side hustle tips.)
Force time constraints
Wake up an hour early or spend a few hours after work on your side project. Short sprints like this add up over time and could equate to accomplishing something amazing. Try setting due dates. After all, a deadline is the best motivator there is.
Find an accountability partner
If you can’t count on your own ambition, pair up with a partner. Think of it as starting a band with friends or training for a marathon together. People are dependent on your contribution and participation. Knowing this can certainly help keep you accountable.
Eliminate the fat
If you have three side projects going on at once, and one is taking over your day job or just adding unnecessary stress to your life, say good riddance! Ask yourself, are you learning anything? Would it be better to instead spend this time on work, health, or family?
Seeing problems you want to fix and having ideas is great. But bringing something new to the world starts with taking action. Whatever your side project may be, be wary of the dangers. If your time is better spent on other tasks at hand, terminate the side project. But there’s no reason you can’t begin drafting that book idea, recording that podcast, or learning karate today.
Get serious or get over it. Go commit yourself, young grasshopper.
John T. Meyer is the CEO/Co-Founder of Lemonly, a visual marketing firm that helps create understanding through visuals with infographics, animated videos and interactives. John loves to cheer on the Minnesota Twins and write about focus and productivity in his PointLetter.com newsletter.