The Argument Against Having a Side Hustle

woman teaching yoga as side hustleSide hustles are all the rage. Hate your job? Develop your hobby into a side business and slowly build it while you work so you can eventually quit that job and live your dream! Need extra income and a safety net if things don’t work out? Your side hustle can save you when the going gets tough and keep you satisfied in the meantime.

Or so the arguments go.

I get the lure. I get the logic. If you hate your job, find something that you love, experiment with it on the side, and eventually turn it into a living.

It’s such a nice thought. And I just don’t think it lives up to the hype.

A strategic plan is always better than an escape plan

One problem with a side hustle is that, more often than not, it’s an escape plan from something you hate – not an intentional choice to seek out something you love. One of my proudest feats in my transition from legal counsel to career coach is that I didn’t just up and leave the practice of law and run to anything that was better. I got very deliberate. I decided that I’d take all the time and energy I didn’t use in determining whether i wanted to be a lawyer and put it into deciding what else I did want to be. As a result, I was unhappy at work a bit longer than I’d have liked, but I ended up with a career path that is perfectly suited and fulfilling for me for the long haul. Because who really enjoys changing jobs or careers all the time?

Running from something you hate typically doesn’t get you very far. I often analogize the job search to dating and it holds water here. We all have that friend (or maybe we are that friend) that leaves one partner, hating X about them and finds another partner that doesn’t have X, but has Y, which is way worse. That’s what you get when you’re just running from something – a different problem. And without a long-term career strategy, it’s what you can get when you turn to your side hustle out of escape instead of as part of a long-term career strategy.

Turning your hobby into a job

A side hustle is often fun precisely because it is a side hustle. When I was a full time lawyer, I also taught yoga. I thought I might do it full time until I put thought into what I really wanted from a career and realized that teaching yoga wouldn’t give it to me. That said, when I started my coaching business I intended to teach more – it was a big incentive for running my own business. But what I found was that when I was doing work that I loved and had chosen very deliberately, teaching yoga didn’t sound as appealing as it had when it was an escape from practicing law. Had I just picked up my side hustle and left the law to teach yoga full time I imagine I’d be quite disappointed and feeling trapped.

Another thing to remember is that hobbies are fun because they are hobbies! Because they don’t require you to give them your all all of the time. Because your success has a human isn’t riding on your success at this activity. Turning a hobby into a business can royally eff with your relationship with that hobby and you might find that you ruined a perfectly good pastime by trying to support your life with it.

woman meditating about career

A focused mind is a happy mind

Finally – and I think most importantly – having a side hustle doesn’t give your “full-time hustle” much of a chance. It turns out, according to a host of psychological studies out there, we’re happiest when we have a single, clear focus. Our minds crave order and goals and progression against those goals. If you haven’t given your chosen career a fighting chance, a side-hustle is just going to take away from any chance it has, creating confusion and mis-aligned goals for yourself.

So, how do you focus yourself on your career when you’re not in love with what you do? You take back control. Sit back and consider how you got into your current career, what you envisioned your path would be and what you really want your future in this career to look like. When you have that clear picture in your mind, create a strategic career plan to get there. Focusing on your plan will keep you happy and engaged in your work and, if you’re lucky, the idea of a side hustle might just end up being crowded out by your happy, focused mind while pursuing your dream career.



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