Don't Have A Side Project? Here's Why You Should Focus On Something Other Than Your 9 To 5

by Kathryn Cicoletti
"What are you doing with your website? What's the point of it? Why do you spend so much time on it if you don't get paid for what you're doing?"

Let me start by saying that all of you who have asked someone those questions definitely don't have a side project. You have no goals or endeavors outside of your typical 9 to 5 job. I guarantee it. You don't have a side project because if you did, you'd never ask anyone those questions.

This Is You

You go to work, you come home, you stalk people on Instagram and then you meet your friend for a drink (who can't meet for dinner because she's working on her side project).

While having a drink, you ask her all sorts of stupid questions about what she's doing with her side project, like "What's the point of it if you're not getting paid?"

Let's be honest, here's what's really going on: you don't have a side project you're working on so you look for reasons why someone would work so hard at something if they're not getting paid. Reasons that you'll inevitably shoot down to further justify your laziness.

Have you ever had a friend that never asks you what's going on with your side project? Or when they do, they only seem half-interested?

Yeah, that's you. You're that friend.

That's you, and we know who you are. You're not happy with what you're doing with your life. You probably hate your job, and you're not doing anything about it. Or you might not be realizing your full career potential and you know it. It's hard for you to be excited for those working on multiple projects because you're not happy with yourself; we get it.

And that brings me to my next two points: you don't have a side project because you're too lazy and also because you're afraid of failing.

You're Lazy

You're too lazy to carry your laptop everywhere you go. You're too lazy to come home from work and start working on your side project because you've been working all day (probably at a job that you hate). And you're too lazy to work on something when you're not entirely sure what the payout is, so you ask yourself why. And that last point is the biggest difference between you and those of us who strive for more.

Those who have side projects initially don't worry about the end goal or payout with our endeavors. We know it will take us on a new adventure, where one thing leads to the next, which leads to the next. The path to the end goal, whatever it is, isn't a straight line. There are offshoots that happen each day that get us excited to keep on working. And I'll tell you this: unlike you, we're sure not worried about failing.

You're Afraid Of Failing

Dangerous Complexity

There's a big difference between people who believe their intelligence can grow and people who believe their intelligence is fixed. Studies show that people who believe their intelligence can grow learn from their mistakes. And guess what, they do in fact learn from them, make adjustments, and get better and better.

We fail every single day. We fail when we don't post enough articles. We fail when we reach out to someone and they don't call us back. We fail when we make every rookie mistake when setting up our side project, which usually wastes lots of money. But our brains work differently than yours; we're not afraid of failing.

Here's the thing: there's really no way to fail with a side project unless you just keep making the same mistake over and over. We use these things that seem like failures as springboards to get smarter and smarter. Meanwhile, you're doing nothing because you think your intelligence is fixed, which makes you afraid of failure.

The #1 Reason To Have A Side Project

So let's settle this once and for all: the reason you should have a side project is to get going in the general direction of where you want to go. Maybe you just want to get exposure to an area you want to learn about. Your motivation to work on a side project is not necessarily to get paid along the way.

The payout is when you see something happening as a result of your side project that you "could" get paid for. Maybe it's not exactly what you were doing with your side project; maybe it's some sort of offshoot.

Look at Paula Pell, a long time writer at “SNL.” She was working at a theme park in Florida and doing some sketch comedy on the side. The creator of “SNL,” Lorne Michaels, saw Pell’s work and asked to meet with her. Seventeen years later, Paula Pell is still at “SNL” and still writing jokes about sh*tting the bed.

The Takeaway

So, to all you who don't have a side project and keep asking your friends why they're working on something and not reaping the immediate benefits, now you see why you’re the foolish one.

You're going to sh*t the bed one day when you see that working on something you enjoy eventually does pay off in bigger ways than you could ever imagine.

To read more from Kathryn, visit The Money Site For Non-Finance People. Finance People Are Annoying.

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