WHY Starting a side hustle IS the MOST FULFILLING THING you’ll do
By Tabitha Roberts
If work isn't satisfying your appetite for creativity or there's a project shaped-hole left in your life post-uni, perhaps a side hustle is what's missing?
It has been said that for quarterlifers to thrive in the modern workplace, we need to feel as though the work of our company has purpose, we want to be flexible in how we work and we crave instant gratification in everything we do. Harnessed correctly, these “wants” can lead to a job that is socially important, allows for a flourishing personal life and creates a sense of reward and purposefulness. But trying to find a job that meets these criteria can be hard, if not impossible.
Many of us thrive on creativity, but it is often absent in our 9-5. Quitting your job to find the elusive “perfect job” is one possible solution to this imbalance, but it’s also a very drastic one. It’s a gamble; it could lead to the the best opportunity of your life or turn out to be a big risk that reaps little reward, leading you back to where you started.
So, I present to you a compromise: one where you keep your regular job, however uninspiring or demotivating it may be, and you focus any surplus energy and attention on a secondary project.
It’s what the zeitgeist has deemed a “side-hustle”.
I work full-time for the Civil Service, which has purpose and flexibility in buckets, but in an organisation of 333,000 employees, you really are a small cog in a dizzyingly large machine.
I also had a strange realisation after leaving university: day by day I felt as though I knew less and less about the world we live in.
Lectures, societies and a melting pot of new people had been replaced with stuffy commutes, rigid workplaces and sorting through piles of washing. This was the driving force behind my side-hustle, Chatter.
Through Chatter, I organise informal breakfast briefings and evening seminars for young professionals in London.
I see it as a way to learn for the sake of learning, outside corporate training structures, and providing an opportunity to discuss some of the biggest challenges facing society today in a relaxed environment. The topics we discuss are wide-ranging; so far, we’ve held events on using social entrepreneurship to tackle the global water crisis, the challenges of social housing in the UK, the importance of education as a cornerstone of development in Afghanistan and the complexities of unconscious bias.
Running a business alongside a full-time job has been an adventure and the responses I have received from people have been hugely rewarding.
If you’re reading this thinking you’d like to start your side-hustle, I say do it! To those tempted to dip their toes, here’s my realistic two cents, from my personal experience, which you won’t find in those wildly unattainable Forbes’ Thirty Under 30 lists:
It should feel like something you’d happily do for free for the rest of your life.
When you’re replying to emails at midnight or rushing to a morning event at 6am you have to make sure that you care about what you’re doing. Make sure it’s something you’re passionate about.
Not everyone will support you and that’s okay.
I’ve been really blessed to have supportive friends and family, but there are lonely moments and people who won’t want to see you succeed. When you realise that you are the only person who can progress a piece of work, it’s sometimes hard to keep going.
Celebrate the small wins.
When I was recently bogged down in budgeting spreadsheets, I decided to put up an Instagram post of a curious-looking sheep. Making the post made me laugh and sharing it was a really enjoyable experience. It might not seem like much, but the curious sheep moments push you through.
Don’t take criticism personally.
When you’re starting up a new project, you’re entirely responsible for it, and the amount of effort you put in is directly proportional to the results that you see. This can make it hard though, as you and the project are so intrinsically linked that any criticism of the project can feel like a direct criticism of you. Trying to separate the two and maintaining a healthy amount of distance is crucial.
Starting Chatter has been a genuine challenge but, it has given me a new sense of purpose, and something to focus my mind on.
It demands a surprising amount of responsibility and accountability, but it allows me to juggle my full-time job, social commitments and friendships. In turn, that is what makes it so fulfilling. It also means my day job doesn’t have to be perfect, or even that “right” for me every day. With spring approaching, I challenge you to think about what your side-hustle could be. Focus your attention on something you genuinely enjoy doing.
It doesn’t have to be a “business” idea that could be monetised; it could be a personal challenge such as running a marathon, writing a blog or joining a dance troupe.
Whatever side-hustle you choose, committing to something regular will give you a new sense of belonging, satisfaction, and peace within yourself that you didn’t even know you needed. Try it, I’d love to hear how it goes.
Image by unknown Pinterest artist