Regardless of who you’re working for (yourself or someone else), you should have a side project. Period.
It’s not about hustling to make millions. If it happens, great! If not, that isn’t the point anyway.
I’ve been working on numerous side-projects since 2007. And I’ll be honest, I haven’t made a nickel off any of them! (Barring a few consulting/coaching gigs, which I did charge a nickel. Quite literally.) Some would ask, “why even bother?” A great question but I’ve got a better question, “why not?”
If you were to count the benefits a side hustle can help you gain, you’ll go crazy! Let me share a few examples (based on my experiences):
- Freedom to be creative. And if you’re not creative, you’re forced to be one. Something your dead-end job or venture wouldn’t offer. Not at all times at least.
- A sense of responsibility/accountability. Once you commit to a project, you deliver. Period. The focus is not on shipping out something that’s perfect, but on staying committed to your word. Which both you and I would agree is the best antidote for procrastination.
- Develop that “drive.” People are addicted to “hustle.” Some just don’t know how. Having a side project teaches you to develop that hustle and drive to push the envelope, test your limits and most importantly care deeply enough to take calculated risks (sometimes dumb ones too!).
- Discipline. Being accountable for delivering a project (on an agreed upon time or perhaps daily, like this blog) forces you to be disciplined. To figure out ways to prioritize and systematize tasks to be part of your daily routine. You develop the attitude to “do it anyway.”
- Skill development. This one is big. Staying with an organization would only take you so far compared to working on side projects where you are forced to develop yourself to get things done. To move the project forward. Think about it — your day job doesn’t require you to have compelling writing skills, but you know deep down good writing skills are important. You have two options
- stay stuck at the job and worry about developing your writing skills overnight (which never happens) after you’re either laid off or have had enough of your boss; Or
- start publishing a blog post every week. Share among your friends, family, and social media for feedback, inputs, and encouragement. Over time you can’t help it but become a better writer and communicator. Why? Because you keep working on yourself, pushing yourself to set new standards only to break them again.
Those are some of the obvious benefits of investing time in a side-project. Right now, I’m working on the following projects:
- The Razor’s Edge (this blog)
- FirstPrinciple Consulting (my microbusiness that focuses on coaching, training, and speaking) [website under construction, will update soon]
- Renegade Barbell (my other microbusiness that focuses on strength, conditioning and nutrition coaching for working professionals and recreational athletes) [website under construction, will update soon]
I’ll be adding a podcast to this list in 2019. Super-excited about the possibilities it will bring. And I love the part where I would be able to meet and interview people who’re smarter than me.
People ask me how the hell am I able to take out time to focus on these projects. And the answer isn’t easy. Because I’m passionate about learning and purely see these projects as learning tools that make me a better person and professional.
Sure, I’m just beginning to focus on monetization but that’s only because I got the feeling that people (in general) stop valuing “free” stuff after a certain point in time. That said, I’m grateful to have had so many opportunities that helped me figure out what I’m deeply passionate about, which is to learn and teach.
And I’m cocksure, I wouldn’t have been able to figure out if it weren’t for my side-projects.
If that kind of experience sounds valuable to you, here’s the good news — you don’t have to wait for anyone or need someone’s permission to get started. You just need to decide and jump right in.
Trust me, it’ll be fun.