Do I need a side gig?

Side gigs have been gaining popularity lately. But why are they so valuable?

Side gigs provide a wealth of benefits even beyond the additional income. Pursuing at least two careers not only allows you to diversify your experience, but also comes in handy if you decide to leave either of them. Providing additional flexibility without losing stability or safety, side gigs are gaining momentum as more people want extra control over their careers.

Many of my colleagues, friends, and customers are among those with multiple careers. While they all have different individual specialties and skills, their side jobs all provide an additional income stream that sticks around if they are looking for (or designing) a new job opportunity.

The rarest type of person: the one who knows what they want

There are people out there who have dreamed about pursuing a very specific career path from their early childhood. You may even know someone who has always wanted to become a doctor, an actress, or an architect - lucky them! Yet, in the majority of cases we tend to follow the career path that seems to be the most reasonable – “Engineers are paid well, I will become an engineer’ or with which we are most familiar with – “my mum worked for the same company for 35 years, I will search for a stable employer that I can retire with”.

There is nothing wrong with either of those examples. The problem starts when you are pursuing a career that you thought was suitable for you, but in which you have no genuine interest.

It may have started when you enrolled in a university for a major that was trendy at the time, or close to the place you lived, or because your grandpa insisted on you going to the same school he went to, or any number of other ways. But when you find yourself in a job that isn’t fulfilling it’s time to break the pattern.

Perks of having a day job

Having a 9-5 job that pays the bills while developing a personal project on the side sounds like the way to go, especially for those who are considering a career transition. But this begs the question, ‘Do I need a 9-5 job at all?’ or ‘Why do I need to keep a job I don’t like?’

You don’t! You need to answer a few questions before you leave it, though:

  1. Do I have enough funds to support myself without a day job? If the answer is ‘no’, you may want to think twice before you quit it. You can start saving for the time you might not have a steady income, but you need a plan that will help you to secure the required funds for the transition period. If the answer is ‘yes’, think how long those funds will suffice for and what measures you will take during the transition period to land a new job or create a new opportunity for yourself (a new gig, your new company, etc) that will replace the previous income.

  2. What do I want instead? What career do I want to pursue?

  3. Do I have the skill set to transition to my dream career? What’s missing?

  4. How do I start the transition? Do I need any help in creating a game plan that I will want to implement?

Then you get to work! Remember, ideas without execution remain in the ‘wishful thinking’ zone, and you don’t want to stay there for too long.

As you probably know, pursuing a day job you dislike might be tough, but if you have an exit plan, you can not only make the transition period comfortable but also a learning experience.

Job security and other vicious cycles – will you break it?

It’s super common to want a job that provides security, a steady income, predictability, and a part of something bigger. That’s what we are being taught at school: get good grades, graduate, land a good job, save some money to buy a house in the suburbs.

Does it sound familiar? Well, it did to me. Is it the only option out there? I don’t think so.

From childhood until my mid 20's, I sincerely believed that my place was in a big corporation with very tight etiquette, very rigorous protocol, lots of procedures to follow, suits, and elegant dresses with high heels.

Side note: Before I entered the ‘corporate phase’ in my life, I wanted to be like one of the Spice Girls. But we will get to this story in a second.

When I got my first job at a mid-size firm with a very hierarchical structure, a culture that promoted treating its employees like servants rather than assets, and pushed for sales even if that meant misleading its customers, I realized it was not for me. So I left.

Did I have an exit plan and enough funds to leave? Sure I did.

The perks of having a side gig

Back in my corporate days in Poland, I pursued two jobs: my corporate 11-7 (a variation of the well-known 9-5), and a side gig performing with a group of like-minded artists, singers, and dancers, with a musical show. This was my passion project that brought additional income to my monthly budget.

It brought not only money and an opportunity to explore what a different career path might look like, but it boosted my confidence as well. One needs guts to perform in front of thousands of people who paid to see and listen to you, believe me. It showed me what can be achieved when we step outside of our comfort zone and work hard to excel at something. When I started, I was absolutely terrified before entering the stage, but as time passed and my skills became more polished, I learned how to turn it into a motivational factor.

Performing showed me as well that I wanted to keep the arts as a hobby instead of transforming it into a way of living. Moreover, it saved me from spending the rest of my life wondering what could have been. What a blessing!

Surprise, surprise!

For many of my friends and colleagues, having a side gig provided not only money but new skills and confidence. With time, some of them used their new skills to transform their day jobs into their dream careers, especially after they came to realize that their careers were not providing what they needed.

In a comment below, let me know what your day job and what your side gig is – the most unexpected combination in the next week will be rewarded with 2 complimentary coaching sessions! 😊 Good luck!

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