Do What You Love Without Losing Your Mind

What’s your “thing”? You know, that thing that you could spend hours doing. That thing you’re completely passionate about. Having a passion is extremely important. Even if it’s not making you money (right now) it’s important to have something that makes you feel excited. But trying to balance a job and your passion can become overwhelming really quickly. It’s like you’re working two full-time jobs.

Jenny Blake, author and life coach, wrote this great piece about “Managing Your Side Hustle” successfully. I think her advice is really helpful, especially if your “side hustle” (read: passion that is not a full-time job) isn’t making you money at the moment. Jenny emphasizes that you need to stay super-focused on your “side hustle” even if it isn’t a job you’re paid to do. This takes motivation, discipline and maturity. Not the “no laughing at dirty jokes” kind of maturity, but an ambitious kind of maturity that is hard to find and can’t be taught.

In many ways I think working on a hobby can be more difficult than working at your job. When you’re working on your hobby you have no supervisor. You don’t have anyone holding you accountable. If you don’t want to work on your passion for three weeks, no one will call you out on it. But your work will suffer. Hopefully if you really love this hobby, you want to spend a lot of time on it. Too much time, in fact. But you can’t be staying up until 4 a.m. every night and then trying to get to your day job. You need to set limits for yourself.

via allisonj.org

To do this, Jenny suggests creating a schedule for your managing side hustle. This will help you stay properly and healthily committed. You won’t be slacking but you also won’t be overworking yourself. Everything in moderation.

Jenny also emphasizes the importance of being transparent with your employer, friends, and family. This is such a great point. For a while I tried to keep my blog a secret. I don’t really know why. It’s not like I blog about anything bad. I just felt like I was cheating on my day job. I also didn’t really tell my friends and family what I was doing because I didn’t consider my writing “real” yet. Then I realized…I’m spending a lot of time writing. I love it. That means it’s real. Time to own it. Now when people ask what I’m up to I tell them about my writing. If my blog somehow comes up at work I don’t get flustered. I feel so much more relaxed about the whole thing.

There are a few other important aspects to managing a side hustle successfully. You have to use your time well. For me, I write a new blog post for this blog every day. I also write a new blog post for my other blog, The Endo Files, almost every day. I also do writing for several other sites. That’s a lot of content to come up with at night and on the weekends. If  I have to write a new post for both blogs and one of the other sites I write for all in one night, that’s several hours worth of work. Therefore I probably shouldn’t sit and watch three episodes of Toddlers and Tiaras on my DVR (not that I would do that of course…) if I want to get all of my writing done. When you’re managing a side hustle you have to look at free time differently. Yes, it’s your free time. You’re not at work. But there’s a difference between free time and couch time. You should be using the time when you’re not at work to pursue your side hustle. Creeping on Facebook can wait. This type of productive work is hugely important to keeping your passion afloat and making progress.

It’s also really important to have supportive people in your life. My boyfriend works a lot too, so I don’t feel bad sneaking into the other room to write for an hour or so. If I was dating someone who thought every Tuesday night should always be spent at the bar, then I might have a problem. My friends are also supportive of my writing and encourage me to pursue it. I’m not saying you have to surround yourself with people who hate drinking and general merry-making. Definitely not. But your friends should support your venture, encourage you, and understand if you can’t always make it to XYZ event, party, etc. With a limited amount of time in the day (and probably a big chunk of that taken up at a job) you need to choose your hours wisely and sometimes sacrifices need to be made.

And speaking of pursuing your passion, you may want to check out Pursuing Our Passion. It’s one of my favorite sites and the ladies offer lots of great tips and inspiration for people who are going after what they want. I’d also recommend checking out Milk the Pigeon if you’re looking for advice about finding that passion, making it work, and making things happen. It’s another one of my favorites. I find the writing inspirational and really helpful.

Do you have any tips for balancing a passion and your job? I’d love to hear them!

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Comments

  1. Haha I love the word “Side hustle,” which pretty much is the most accurate way to put it.

    And I think the passion part of the equation really comes in because in reality you’re probably going to be working daily on something that won’t pay you for 9+ months, and for people who aren’t *really* serious and consistent, maybe 2+ years.

    For me, writing is difficult. It’s not natural.. I’m really good at talking with people in person, public speaking, and have good body language reading skills (Introvert power!). So writing comes off as awkward and strange to me..

    But one thing I love love love about this time period is that i’m meeting more and more people who have a side hustle. I still think ambitious youth are a dime a dozen (I’m definitely not meeting them anyways), but I meet more and more people looking to do huge things with their time which makes me really happy.

    And sometimes you gotta probe because they’re afraid to admit it — like you said I don’t mention my blogs or the free ebook I wrote on my interviews. I only started recently mentioning that for some reason.

    Re: “free time vs couch time” Totally agree. I watch 0 hours of TV per week. For me it’s like sweets — once I start, I can’t stop. So in general I don’t eat sweets and don’t watch TV (I’m starting to sound really boring.. haha).

    It takes a lot of focus and a lot of time-failures to get back on track and be consistent.. it’s the hardest part for me when no one is holding you accountable!

    — Alex

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