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It seems we are living in the age of the “side hustle.” Everywhere you look there are articles and ads for ways to make more money outside of your day job. The idea of the side hustle has been romanticized as the entrepreneurial spirit hard at work, where dreamers go to start living their dreams while being supported by their “day job.” It’s the person working on a fixer-upper house on nights and weekends in hopes of turning a profit on their first flip. It’s the savvy thrift shopper with an eye for diamonds in the rough they can polish off and sell at a profit. The media has sensationalized side hustles like these through numerous television programs like American Pickers, Flip or Flop and Storage Wars.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to make a little extra cash, or even better, wanting to try and start your own dream business or career on the side. The circumstances around the American side hustle craze, however, are alarming. Side hustles are overwhelmingly not rooted in someone pursuing their passions or dreams or saving for an added luxury, like a vacation. Instead, American side hustles are a phenomenon because Americans simply are not making enough money from their primary jobs to pay their bills. In other words, side hustles are due to the fact that too many companies do not pay a living wage.
Related: 9 Lessons From 9 Years in the Side Hustle Trenches
The slippery slope of side hustling
A recent finder.com study reveals that nearly 70% of Americans are in need of more money and are not making ends meet from their primary jobs. Another study shows that 41% of side hustlers relied on their secondary income to cover monthly bills. This is anything but the American Dream. This is the American scam.
We live and die by the almighty dollar in this country, and side hustles have us doubling down on this toxic addiction. From a young age we are taught, or rather trained, that we need to “get a job” in order to be responsible, self-sufficient adults in society. Many are convinced by their parents and teachers that their dreams are unrealistic and that what they should focus on is finding a good, well-paying job with benefits. We go into enormous amounts of debt trying to finance an education that will land us the highest paying job, then we spend the bulk of our day away from our family and loved ones working to pay off that debt at a job that leaves us unfulfilled at the end of the day.
Now we are being told that one unfulfilling job is not enough to make the money we need to be responsible, self-sufficient members of society, and let’s face it, loyal consumers. Now we must find a second job, a “side hustle,” in order to make more money just to make ends meet. Now we must spend more time away from our family and loved ones and have even less time for the things we are passionate about and actually enjoy. Money is all that matters. Money and more money.
Related: How to Effectively Start a Side Hustle While You Have a Full-Time Job
How to avoid that slippery slope
Money, however, does not a happy human make. Feeling a sense of purpose, having good relationships, being fully engaged with what you do and accomplishments do. The key is finding your purpose. Once you do, following your purpose will lead to those positive relationships, engagement, accomplishments and positive emotions that lead to a fulfilling life. If you want to avoid the slippery slope of side hustling, if you want to avoid waking up with multiple unfulfilling jobs just to make ends meet, follow these steps:
1. Discover your life purpose: There is nothing more important in life than knowing your purpose. It is also the thing that will bring you the most joy and personal fulfillment. Without knowing your purpose, you lack direction and do not know the right path to take in life. Your “side hustle,” your dream job in the making, should ultimately fulfill your life purpose.
2. Follow your creativity, not money: Creativity is defined as the ability to produce unique ideas of value. Everyone is creative in that they see the world through their own unique lens and perspective. Your creativity is something only you can produce (nobody else has your ideas), so it functions as the gateway to fulfilling your life purpose. Understanding how you are creative will help you determine what value you can bring to this world through your side hustle.
3. Budget forward, not backwards: Let’s face it: Most people struggle to make ends meet because they budget backwards. Instead of starting out looking at what their income is, they instead look at the cost of rent, their car, food, etc. They spend before they save. The right way to budget is to start with what you make each month. Then the first thing you should do is allocate a certain amount to savings and a budget to invest in growing your side hustle (i.e., the “side job” that you really want to be your full-time job). Once you have done so, then you see how much you have left for life’s essentials — food, shelter, clothing, transportation — and you force yourself to live within those means, which leads to the next step.
4. Be prepared to make sacrifices: The reality is that money may be very tight in the beginning. For example, you may only have enough to rent out a room instead of an entire apartment. Sacrificing your personal comfort, in the beginning, may be necessary in order to invest in growing your dream business. Remind yourself of your goal. Is it to acquire a life of material things (none of which will make you happy in the long run)? Or is it to live a fulfilling life?
There are many positives to starting a side hustle. However, as you can see, there is a dark side to it as well. By discovering your life purpose, following your creativity, budgeting the right way and being prepared to make some sacrifices, you can avoid this slippery slope.
Related: 3 Lies That the Side Hustle Culture Leads You to Believe
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