The phrase goes as follows: “I have a 9-5 and a 5-9”. In reality, you have a 9-5 and a 24/7 side hustle. It’s not always the most glamorous of lives and usually leaves you with heavy bags under your eyes, but in the moments when it seems to be working out, it feels like perfection.
I like to think that after many years of getting it wrong I’m quite well-versed in staying motivated for my side-hustle and so here I am to impart some of my brief coping strategies on how to not just breakdown constantly. I’m not always a huge fan of listicles, but dag nabbit they work nicely to break it all up, so here we are!
- Treat It Like A Job.
It sounds simple but when your side-hustle is usually your passion, it is very easy to let it become last priority and to be lazy with it. The best way to defeat that is just by treating it as a full-time job. If you’re like me and your side-hustle is being a writer, this will also help for the future when you work for yourself and need strict discipline to get anything done. Use lunch breaks, commuting time, hometime to make up for time lost. Any gaps you find where you can open your laptop and write, or email prospective clients or contacts (depending on what your hustle is) and make strides in your future career, do it. If you’re inspired to work, be inspired and don’t just sit on it. Get up and make it happen.
- Work Hard. Play Hard.
Okay, so again I’m a writer so ‘playing hard’ rarely means going to the club, or having it large in a sweaty room full of drunk people. What I mean is that when you spend so much of your time essentially working two jobs, you need to take breaks. You need to treat yourself. You, in general, need to look after yourself. Working hard means realising you deserve to have some time off. If you’re treating it like a job, then you have to let yourself have holidays and contracted hours and some set of rules that stop you from completely falling apart. I write on the train to work, then I do my actual job, I then write on the train again, come home, have dinner, relax in the bath, do some more writing, watch a film, do my exercise, sleep.
It’s good to switch it up sometimes but having that consistent structure that allows you to rest as well as working hard allows you to actually feel motivated. You only ever feel totally motivated to work once you’ve had the weekend to rest, right? Go out, explore, see friends, see family, HAVE A LIFE. A lot of people say that having a side-hustle means getting used to being lonely, which in some ways is true, but I also think that being social and being around people is an important part of it. You are inspired and motivated by the successes and positivity of people around you. You support yourself, but they lift you higher.
- Be Inspired.
I guess this is a sort of adjunct to my last point, but being inspired is like 50% of your potential success. If someone tells you no-one inspires them, they’re either lying or not going to get very far. Something and someone will always inspire you, if they don’t, you might not be looking properly. A lot of people can be quite stubborn and refuse to be anything other than independent, but the fact is you can still be independent with inspiration. The point is not to mirror someone, not to copy them, but to be enamoured by their approach, their methods and their style that you become driven to achieve the same.
I read Plath, Whitman, Bukowski, along with more modern writers like John Green, David Levithan, Rupi Kaur etc. When I read their work, I drop every sense of self-degradation and demand of myself that I create something that makes someone feel like I do reading those books. You’re not looking for a mentor or for someone to hold your hand, you’re looking for a reason to keep pushing on when you forget why you’re trying.
- Be Patient and Be Realistic
Nothing feels more frustrating than waiting for your hard work to pay off. You spend one day being uber productive and then stare at your laptop and watch your phone waiting for the moment that will change your entire life. Unfortunately, it takes time. Even when your hard work does give way to some successes, it still trails along at a snails speed, which can feel very demeaning. In those moments you have to be realistic, but not in the pessimistic way of denying any idea of future success, you have to understand the timescale these things can stretch across. I’ve published a poetry book, have this blog, and publications across a few different mags and papers, but I’m still buried with many other writers. I’m realistic in understanding that it will take a while, but I’m also positive enough to know it will happen. My side-hustle is not a side-hustle forever, whenever it happens, it will still happen. When you remain determined there is nothing that will stop it.
- Allow Mistakes But Be Prolific.
It’s not easy to fall on your face and make a mistake. It’s not easy to put your work out there, or show your side-hustle to everyone and then have it crushed in a second. However, it’s much harder to give up. Mistakes, embarrassment, all are temporary. Ditching a life long dream and goal can feel like an eternal nightmare. If you have changed your mind and now believe your happiness is defined by something else, that’s perfectly fine, that happens too! But if you’ve given up because you don’t believe in yourself, you will always still have that scratching ‘what if’ at the back of your head.
So… what if?
Do as much as you can when you can. If you make a mistake, forget it and figure out how to avoid it next time. Learn from everything you do. Be prolific, be determined, be positive, be rested, be you, be successful.
I hope you enjoyed this post, share it around if you did! If you don’t know me, my name is Liam Xavier, I’m a corporate filmmaker by day and a writer, performer and poet by night. You can find me posting daily on Instagram (@LiamXavier95) and you can buy my debut collection of poetry and prose on Amazon.
Go forth and hustle!