A side hustle is a must.

A side hustle; a back-pocket, late night, coffee/wine-fuelled creative escape.  

There are very few of us who love our jobs and even if you are engaged in a corporate romance, in order to be creative, connected and fluid with problem-solving a side hustle is key. This is a place where you can flex the other side of your brain and throw yourself wholeheartedly into something you genuinely care about. The effects of a side project/gig/freelance job have direct translations into your daily job performance, along with mental health, your network, your IQ, imagination, and every other valuable component that makes up the human body & mind. Having experienced the benefits of all forms of side gigs (from filmography to hairdressing), I am going to discuss 3 reasons why a side hustle is essential for success.

1. In Generation X & Z of Hunter-Gatherers, we forage for data and we dig for code, but we must not dismiss the psychological benefits that stem from digital freelance tribes.

In the eyes of a millennial – if you had a good education, you own a mobile phone and you don’t freelance… you have social issues. Gen X and Z entered the workforce aged 14, selling their belongings on Depop, demanding money for the code they downloaded from GitHub, and spending weekends fixing up garden sheds on TaskRabbit.

Millennial’s are changing the job market; a generation of freelance natives who demand naturally flexible job positions to ensure they can continue to operate with many hats on. They understand the value of networks like no other generation (Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat), and their drive to freelance stems from affiliations, from platforms, from connections. Their motives for pursuing a side hustle are much greater than money. It brings them an identity and independence, elevating their dwindling motivation to work, building purpose into their digital lives. When they side hustle, they are associating themselves with a digital tribe.

No matter what age you are, there is a high chance that you will feel empowered by this sense of connection and affiliation that comes from being part of a bigger picture, working amongst this new tribe of people. Whether it is a digital or physical connection, there is something to learn here from our fellow millennials.

2. Making money won’t ever go out of style & you can’t pay for a better skills test

The obvious driver for the side gig is to increase your income potential. Whether it leads to saving for emergencies, paying off debt, reaching financial goals or building a business, you aren’t going to regret spending time building a second income stream. Ideally, a side gig will provide you with a reality slap as to what your true career passions are, painting a picture of the entrepreneur you could become.

You can do all the Business Chemistry tests in the world, you can meet with career councillors, mentors, and advisors, but failing or succeeding at a side gig is the most rational, honest and fair determination of your skillset. I have tried to make a short film, to write for Vogue, to dog walk, to front-end code, and to highlight hair. No career coach could have accurately informed me that I would be shit at all of those things. The proof is in the dodgy film, the unpublished article, the stray dogs, the error-ridden website and the bob cut. But you don’t learn if you don’t try, and you may even be paid to try.

3. Fluid problem solving

Writer’s block theory occurs when an author loses the ability to produce new work or experiences a creative slow down. The inability to produce creative content can be mirrored in our corporate lives, and a leapfrog for this barrier is running with multiple side projects.

When I am working on an Employee Experience Ideation Workshop at a client site and I run dry of empathy forming activities, I don’t accept writer’s block. I turn off my laptop, I go home, and I turn to brand & logo visual design. I look at my brief, the constraints, my ideas thus far, and I dive straight back into concept development. Deep down a design rabbit hole, when I am trying to find a symbol that represents a motion of change, I uncover a newly found stimulation to resolving my workshop problem. A new line of thought, direction, and compassion that can be translated into my previous working scenario. I can then return to my laptop, refreshed.

Fluid side gigs lead to fluid problem-solving. Never abandon your problems, as you can always find new directions via another project. Side gigs don’t have to be within the same field as your day job, but as long as they encourage you to problem solve they are going to assist you in solving problems elsewhere.

To conclude, having a single source of income really is a thing of the past, and the good news is the options for side gigs are endless. There are so many opportunities to build a personal brand and business, but the key takeaway from this post is that the most sought after benefits are much greater than money: identity, tribe connection, genuine skills assessments, and fluid problem-solving capabilities.