Losing your job and other threatening circumstances can scare the living crap out of you and be very powerful motivators that could force you to get off your behind and do something about it. But do you really need to hit rock bottom in order to start that project or side hustle you always dreamt of, but have been putting off forever?
You can come up with endless reasons and excuses for why you haven’t started or perhaps you have started but stopped and never continued.
Would you like to know what your biggest obstacle is?
What’s Your Excuse?
After listening to many people tell me why they “can’t” start that side hustle or project they’ve been thinking about for a long time, a pattern started emerging.
Here is a list of excuses I’ve heard over and over again:
1. I don’t have enough time (the most common).
2. I’m just waiting for (fill in the blank) to happen.
3. I don’t know where to start.
4. I just don’t feel very motivated.
5. I need a clear mind.
6. I just can’t get myself to start.
7. I don’t have enough money to start.
8. What if I fail/I have tried before and failed.
9. I don't know enough about it.
10. I don't have enough experience.
11. I'm just not ready yet (This one that makes me facepalm).
12. It's too difficult.
13. People/circumstances are holding me back.
14. It's too risky.
15. I'm not creative enough.
16. I'm not confident enough (people tend to obscure this one with other excuses).
17. It's not the right time.
18. I'm afraid of what people will think of me (another one that is usually obscured).
Should I keep going? What’s your excuse?
“Nothing will ever be attempted, if all possible objections must be first overcome.” ― Samuel Johnson.
A side hustle does not have to mean doing something on the side just for some extra income in conjunction with being a full-time employee forever. This is an unhealthy way of framing it because it means that it is just a secondary, expendable thing that’s not that important to you, making it more prone to be abandoned.
Just the mere thought of wanting extra income on the side, means that the time you're spending on your job isn’t worth the money you're currently making to live the life you want to. The cost-benefit ratio is so high that you want to balance it out by generating more money from another source.
Besides starting a side hustle, the other option of killing yourself at your full-time job to satisfy your employers in hopes of getting a promotion/raise, in my opinion, is a waste of life. You are spending a lot of energy, toiling away at someone else’s goals, counting on people who might or might not give you that raise or promotion.
I'm sure that you or someone you know experienced situations where office politics or some other dramatic, energy draining, toxic crap came in the way of being rightfully recognized or getting a raise/promotion. There are just too many variables and unknowns to deal with.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not supposed to put you in a negative thinking cycle and make you quit. On the contrary, especially if you are at the beginning of your career, are in debt or this whole idea is new to you, you should always be as happy and grateful as you can for having a job that provides you with sustenance, experience, knowledge, a network of people, etc. but we should always be determined to better our situation and have a long term strategy to eventually live the life we want, on our own terms, not someone else’s.
No more being bossed around, no more dealing with toxic people, no more office politics, no more working hard long hours to be underappreciated and perhaps even underpaid, yes more autonomy and financial freedom, yes more taking control of your life and living it on your own terms.
Starting a side hustle can have fantastic benefits including:
1. Having something to look forward to and be excited about every day.
2. You will tolerate your current job more and be less stressed out since you know you won’t be stuck there forever. You will have something to escape to and work on.
3. Working on your side hustle can provide you with a sense of deep fulfilment and purpose knowing that you are doing something productive for yourself, instead of making someone else rich.
4. If you are not yet an “expert” in the field of the side hustle you want to start, learning about it is still considered working on it and learning new things is proven to make you happier.
5. Once you start seeing results such as positive feedback and money rolling in, you’ll experience a deep sense of accomplishment, fulfilment and motivation to keep going harder and produce even better results.
Start with the why
The why is a very important factor in determining whether you will face yourself and your obstacles, start your side hustle and keep at it, or just simply put it aside and do something that will provide you with instant gratification in order to avoid pain and resistance like binging on a TV show, swiping up and down your phone or endlessly “researching”.
Quite simply put, if it isn't an important enough reason; if it doesn't matter enough to you, it is doomed to fail from the start. You need to sit and figure out why it is important to you. What is the meaning of what you want to do? What is your purpose? Your mission? What do you hope to accomplish and gain?
Be truthful with yourself, your answers don’t have to be the solutions that will bring about world peace or eradicate famine. They can be as simple as wanting to provide a better standard of living for your family, making more time to meditate on the beach or get lost in the blissful flow of creating a sculpture perhaps. Whatever your reasons are, make sure they are deeply meaningful and exciting to you.
Write them down somewhere so you can refer back to them later and remind yourself of why you’re doing what you’re doing when the going gets tough, because it will.
Resist the Resistance
When you do anything new that requires you to step outside of your comfort zone, you will always feel a resistance at first. Things will come to mind like what if I fail? How am I going to make the time? What will they think of me? That’s too much work, etc. along with the other excuses I listed earlier. These mental blocks can be very convincing and can talk you out of taking even the first step.
Naturally, just like with anything new, you won’t be the best in the world at it initially. You will need to face obstacles, run into issues, experience problems that you did not foresee and would have never known about without going for it and trying, uncovering these obstacles and learning from them.
There are uncertainties associated with doing anything new, and as adults, we tend to blow them way out of proportion into these vague and scary things that exist only in our minds.
Look at child who is just learning to grab objects or walk. Do they know how to do it instantly? Or do they keep trying and trying day in and day out until they are able to do it and be better at it than the previous day? Children never think what if I fail? They get up, fall, and get up again. They never think what are these people going to think of me? Instead, they are totally consumed by the task at hand with laser focus until they learn how to do it. They never say I don’t have time; they make time.
Unfortunately, as we grow older, we start to learn and internalize limiting, often invisible mental scripts and assumptions without questioning them and we let them dwell in our subconscious minds constantly whispering to us things that aren’t true about ourselves and reasons why we should not try working on something new. One of those things is the perceived sense of security we derive from a full-time job. This is just an illusion we were made to believe early on. Look at what’s happening around you now, perhaps even at your own workplace. Not too secure now is it?
The Motivation of Importance
The more important something seems, the closer to the top of your list it will be.
We deem tasks important and are motivated to do them for two reasons:
1. We look forward to the good things we will gain if we do them.
2. We’re afraid of the bad stuff that will happen if we don't do them.
The latter is a more powerful motivator for prioritization and getting things done.
We can visualize good things such as being your own boss and having financial freedom to do what you like, and bad things (very briefly) such as being stuck in a full-time job with that boss for a long time. Thanks, but I’ll pass. Don’t spend too much time visualizing the negative; just get an idea of what would happen if you don’t start working on your side hustle. That’ll help spring you into action.
a peculiar opposite effect could also take place subconsciously.
The same way an unwanted negative consequence can motivate you into taking action, it can also prevent you from doing so and instead, cause you to waste time.
Doing something that we consider time consuming, hard and requiring a lot of effort is perceived as somewhat painful. A resistance will be created in your mind using the previously mentioned excuses to get you to avoid this pain and instead, seek immediate pleasure and waste precious time.
Be mindful of When this happens. Resist it and keep moving on. Get comfortable with getting uncomfortable.
Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, advises to turn towards this resistance instead of away. He writes “you will feel uncertainty, fear or discomfort around some of your most important tasks. That’s called ‘groundlessness’ — the uncertainty of not having solid ground under your feet. Instead of turning away, turn towards this task. Stay with the groundlessness, mindfully. Be present with the fear and uncertainty, but don’t let it force you to exit. Let it be an act of love and devotion to stay in the middle of the groundlessness as you do the task.”
Past Just Fantasizing About it
Let's have a look at the most common pains and how to address them.
• Not enough time. Time can be made for very important tasks. Take a look at your day and see where you can glean time from less important, perhaps, self-indulgent tasks. You'll be surprised by the amount of time you can create daily by doing this.
For example, you could be watching Netflix/YouTube or mindlessly browsing the internet, checking social media and what have you for a couple of hours, which you can use to work on your side hustle.
You could be spending too much time with people who aren’t contributing in a positive and meaningful way to your life, and are literally sucking the life out of you. This is your precious time. Grab it and work on your side hustle instead.
Make use of your commute time to listen to audiobooks and/or podcasts on a related topic and gain useful knowledge and insights that will help you with your side hustle.
Think of other things in your life which you could eliminate, and take time from, and you're ‘not enough time’ excuse becomes invalid.
“Too busy is a myth. People make time for the things that are really important to them.” ― Mandy Hale.
Once you are able to make some time, block it off completely with absolutely no distractions like your life depends on it, because your good life does depend on it. Silence your phone, lock your door, open up a brown noise track if you're in a noisy environment, speak to your partner and let them know that this block of time is going to be dedicated to work on your side hustle and explain the benefits. Treat this as sacred time and get that side hustle up and running baby!
• What if I fail? No, really, ask yourself this question. Ask yourself what is the worst that can happen.
Your least far-fetched answers will most likely not include a colossal loss. Keep in mind that failure is a must initially to learn from previous mistakes and fix, then try again, then fail, then learn, then fix and try again, etc.
I'll let you do the research to find out how many times successful people failed before reaching where they are. That’s because they don't stay stuck at the level of the problem. They move on to the level of the solution, even if it means having to face of the valuable, experience-inducing failures.
• The Illusion of perfection. Perfectionism is another common pain point that could prevent you from starting a side hustle. Let me remind you that nothing is perfect. You can keep working on something forever. You have to decide when it is good enough and move on.
Do you think people create things perfectly from the get-go? Of course not! You don't see the messy sketches, rough drafts, voice notes, pieces of paper lying around. Initially, these first couple of drafts seem terrible. It's through a process of refinement, that things become better.
No matter how crappy you think your work is initially, you can always make it better. Nothing is set in stone and irreversible forever. Just get started somewhere and don't worry about breaking things.
Here are some successful businesses that initially started as imperfect side hustles:
- Apple. Steve Jobs was working full-time at Atari, while building the Apple I.
- Facebook. It started out as a side project from Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm room.
- Craig’s List. Craig Newmark started it while working as a full-time programmer.
- Twitter. Jack Dorsey created Twitter in his spare time while working for a company called Odeo
- Virgin Records and Virgin Atlantic. Both were side projects created by Richard Branson while working on other things.
This is why Google allows its staff to devote 20% of their time to side projects. The tech giant understands that what starts as a personal ‘side project’ can ultimately become one of its most important products. In fact, Gmail and Google Maps were once side projects.
Get to know your side hustle
Your side hustle has to be something you are really interested in because if you're not, you simply won't tolerate working on it when the inevitable obstacles come around. See yourself as a crafts-person who is providing an excellent service that is extremely valuable to others, no matter what your topic or niche is. All business is essentially about an exchange of value, so provide value like no one else can. Learn and get good at it.
Examples of side hustles can be:
o With individuals
o With businesses
o Group coaching
• Creating informational products/courses
• Selling products
o Your own products
o Licensed from another entity
Activities related to your side hustle, to get you started can be:
• Learning about your side hustle topic including:
o Reading books, eBooks, blogs, etc.
o Listening to audio books, podcasts, having in person conversations
o Taking courses, attending seminars, webinars, workshops,
• Market research/networking:
o Competition analysis
o Target audience
o Meeting people via meetup, or through other friends
o Facebook groups
o Anywhere else your market can be found.
• Planning and marketing
o Creating a business plan
o Creating a marketing strategy
o Inbound marketing
o Sales funnels
o Social media marketing
o Affiliate links
o YouTube videos
o Blog articles
o Podcasts and audio products
o Social media content
o Digital and physical tools
o Combinations of the above
The previous lists are not exhaustive and are just meant to provide you with some things to consider to get you going.
While working on your side hustle, you will lose traction and motivation at some point. Just remind yourself of the benefits and the why. Visualize what succeeding and ‘making it’ and will look and feel like. Also keep in mind what will happen if you don’t start.
Motivation is sustained through feelings of winning so create small wins via milestones in your plan.
Remember, you will never feel 100% ready. Just start somewhere. You will face setbacks and get frustrated, get comfortable with that. Don't expect your work to be 100% perfect from the start, that never happens. Keep improving yourself one step at a time and before you know it, you’re off to the races my friend.
Still here? Get started, NOW.