These days the side hustle has become norm. So many people are busting their butts working their 9-5 only to come home, or stay home, and work on another project. People spend their down time on money-making initiatives with the goal of one day leaving their day jobs. I applaud these people. They make the extra work seem appealing.
The glory of the side hustle is short lived. What happens after you’ve spent years working a regular day job and spent nights working on your side hustle. You wake up one morning and see your children have grown yet you don’t remember doing much with them. You wake up and see how gray your hair has grown. You may have more money in your bank account but at what cost? Is it worth it?
I too was mesmerized by the side hustle. What if I could devote a couple hours in the evening in learning a trade that was more fulfilling than my day job? What if by devoting this time, I could become good enough at my side hustle so I could monetize it? What if I could leave my job to work on my side hustle full time? While daydreaming about my side-hustle-becomes-real-job goal, I envisioned financial freedom. I envisioned having enough money to do things I wanted to do.
That’s when I woke up. Literally, I woke up.
From what I’ve read, the goal of the side hustle is to monetize a skill you have in an area outside of your current day job. Many times, it’s in an industry people are passionate about. In this way, they can make money doing what they want so that work would not feel like work. That’s the glory part.
“Hustle isn’t just working on the things you like. It means doing the things you don’t enjoy so you can do the things you love." - Unknown
When I sat down to think about what I love, it became clear that money wasn’t a driver. I wanted to spend more time with my family. I wanted to stress less. I wanted to hike more. I wanted to learn more. These things didn’t mesh well with having a side hustle. The only thing a side hustle could bring me was financial freedom. But financial freedom doesn’t come quickly. And even after you’ve established yourself, would it be easy to disengage?
It didn’t make sense to me. It was then I realized I don’t need a side hustle. In fact, I decided to live an anti-hustle lifestyle. I want to slowly sip my coffee in the morning while speaking to my husband about our plans for the day. I want to have time to make breakfast for the children before sending them to school. I want to have free time in the evenings to walk my dogs and spend time with my family. I wanted to spend my weekends hiking. My life goals don’t revolve around money. The things I want are not driven by money, they are driven by time.
As we’ve just started a new year, we should consider how we spend our time. I’ve revisited the concept of side hustles and side gigs only to come back to what I want. Simplicity. The pandemic has shown me tomorrow isn’t granted. I need to ensure I live enough today. I want to feel accomplished by the things I’ve done, the people I’ve impacted and the life I’ve lived.
For some, this anti-hustle lifestyle is equivalent to a lack of ambition. Shouldn’t I want to work harder to have more? Shouldn’t I work harder to make sure I can provide more for my children?
I have a desire to learn. I have a desire to experience. I also have a desire to make as many memories as possible. This, to me, is more important than the desire for rank, fame or power. I have debated this, with myself, for many years. I work hard and am lucky enough to have a day job I enjoy that adequately pays our bills. That is sufficient to let me also enjoy my life outside of work.
As you think about your goals for the new year, think about how you currently spend your time. Are you consumed with your side hustle? Is your side hustle your passion? Does it bring you happiness? Is it worth the time spent?
Then, consider the anti-hustle. Consider spending time doing things for personal gain. Consider doing things without financial benefit. Consider slowing down and being present. Consider enjoying what you currently have instead of focusing on what you don’t.
When we focus on what we have instead of what we don’t, life has a way of becoming easier. We become less stressed. We’re not focused on some arbitrary end; we’re focused on living.
I still occasionally think about a side hustle. After all, I write. Writing is outside of my normal day job. Is it then classified as a side hustle? I write because it frees my mind. It allows me to put my thoughts on paper so I can think about other things. Often times, I make decisions as I write. Writing is funny, it has a way of helping you while helping others. I don’t write as a side hustle. In fact, it’s not a hustle at all. Writing contributes to my anti-hustle by freeing my mind so I can focus on the present.
The moments my thoughts shift to side hustles, I think about time. Reflecting on the finite amount of time I have in this life brings me back to the anti-hustle. Once you experience loss, you understand the finality of life. Each time I think about the death of my father, I am brought back to my anti-hustle.
Living simply has a way of giving you freedom. I’ve often confused this with financial freedom. If only I had enough money to do X, I’d be able to do Y. This thinking is illogical. If what you want is freedom, living an anti-hustle lifestyle will get you there faster.