How A Side Hustle Helped Me Discover What Matters Most
My story might sound familiar to a lot of millennials.
Fresh out of college, I navigated the treacherous interview process and ultimately landed at a tech startup as a Social Media Manager. I was eager to start my career and ready to hustle hard to prove my worth. So I dove head-first into my role, working long hours and taking on extra projects whenever I could. I felt proud to be earning my own way for the first time in my life and fortunate to have a job given the economic climate.
Then one day, nearly a year into my position, my coworker asked what hobbies I enjoyed outside of work. I sat there frozen, unable to think of a single thing I had done in the past few months that was not related to work. I drew a complete blank and it took a few seconds to compose myself before I was able to make a joke and get the spotlight off me.
Inside, I instantly felt frustrated and confused. Throughout my life and well into college, I had a ton of hobbies and I consistently engaged in meaningful volunteer work. I always considered myself to be curious and creative so I was especially shocked at how quickly I had lost sight of what mattered to me outside of work.
That moment with my coworker was the catalyst to raise my head up from my laptop screen and take stock of what I cared about. I started reflecting on what fulfilled me in my current job and what didn’t. This created the distance I needed to recognize what I truly wanted to spend my time on instead of what I thought I “had” to do to be successful.
One thing became very clear to me: I wanted to start living with more intention. When I realized my purpose wasn’t tied to my job, but that it was in fact, much bigger than that, I felt a sense of freedom. It was my prerogative to to explore what truly brings me happiness. I knew, however, that it would be easy to fall back into my old routine without some form of accountability. That’s when I adopted a side hustle.
The best definition of a side hustle I’ve found comes from Bill Peters:
“A “side hustler” is a passionate, hard-working individual who is dedicated to a sideline that provides him or her with something valuable and tangible in return, such as cash, skills, or exposure.”
I’d also add “purpose” to Bill Peters’ list of returns. So I started a blog and I took it seriously. I wanted my own space to write about living intentionally, finding joy in the everyday, and finding ways to prioritize traveling. I hoped that in sharing these practices, I could inspire others to do the same. Most importantly though, this blog was a creative way for me to stay on track and get back to cultivating a life I loved.
Over time, I was able to share content that struck a chord with people my age and it’s given me more opportunities than I ever expected. From collaborating with brands I love to traveling more and earning extra money on the side, my side hustle has fueled lots of new adventures. In the past year, I’ve leaned into this side hustle even more, taking on freelance clients to generate more income for myself and quickly expand my skills in new ways that matter to me most.
One surprising bonus of a side hustle? It became an alternative to job hopping.
Because Millennials tend to prioritize purpose over salary or status, it’s not surprising that 90% of us expect to stay in a job for fewer than three years. With a side hustle, I no longer felt pressure to have my 9-5 job be “perfect” and instead looked for other ways to fill the gaps myself. Regardless of your professional journey, side hustles can be used to discover what activities light a fire in you. Take your time to determine whether it’s a viable career, or if it should remain a side hustle.