Updated: 5 days ago
I love the idea that I can share stories from my own life (and more importantly, mistakes) and it helps someone like you reach their goals faster. But in the beginning, I didn’t have a focused concept. I wrote and created on a bunch of different topics and although I had my own perspective, I don’t think I’d done enough introspection to say anything very different than anyone else. Plus I never felt like I was making headway. I was always searching for something, but I didn’t really know what it was. I was putting off joy and feeling fulfillment until later… whenever I accomplished my goal.
If you’re thinking about starting a side-business, diving into a hobby, or you’re already *in it* at the beginning stages of your hustle, you might be feeling the same way. Like you’re working, working, working, but not really making any progress. You’re not joyful, content, living your dreamiest life yet.
I’ve curated nine of the lessons I’ve learned that I wish I would have known before I took the plunge into that side-hustle life. Here they are just for you so you can leapfrog my mistakes and make it to the other side that much faster!
1. Be Prepared for the Long-Game
This sort of parallels my feelings about my college career. I wish that I would have chosen to take a year off and job shadow people in my preferred industry or to experiment in different disciplines. It would have provided some vital clarity around what I truly wanted to do with my life.
When I began dabbling in side-hustles, gigs, and creativity, I didn’t really have a focus. I had this container everything fit in: helping others. But apart from that, all the parts inside lacked hard edges. Nothing had a definite shape.
I had this confusing period in my mid-twenties where I was interested in so many different things (still am, btw) and it made my free-time efforts erratic and scattered. It was my quarter-life crisis. Trying to figure it all out after the promise of “a healthy wage if you get your college diploma” was wearing off and I was spending my life doing shift work. Without a focus, I couldn’t really niche down to build a real business.
It took almost a decade for me to figure that out. I’m happy where I’ve landed and always knew I was playing a long game.
2. Nail Down Your Direction and Stick To It
This compliments #1. But this is a question on repeat in soooooo many message boards and Facebook groups devoted to the side-hustle. HOW do you pick your direction?
I’m a supporter of dabbling and not staying in your lane to figure this one out. When you push yourself past your comfort zone you find out what you love and what you don’t love. It’s how we grow and it is a key piece in discovery.
Once you’ve discovered something you’d do for free, then you know you’ve found a passion.
Then you can focus into a zone of genius and do your best work. You go farther faster once you’ve chosen *and stick to* a niche.
That doesn’t mean you’ll never iterate and evolve. Of course, any healthy business does, but everyone starts somewhere.
3. Trust yourself
For way too long I tried to be someone else’s definition of success and well-adjusted. It was uncomfortable and stifling. It lead to intense bouts of depression and hopelessness coupled with anxiety and migraines.
Once I began seeing the weird things about myself as assets, the entire game changed.
Not only was I happier, hopelessness and depression hardly ever pop their heads out of the sand anymore.
I heard on a YouTube video, and I can’t remember which one… but there was a young woman who said her friend had described her once as...
"a scared person with occasional bursts of confidence, but now she was a confident person with an occasional burst of fear." **super paraphrase.
(Does anyone know who I can credit here?^^^)
This feels like my relationship with trusting myself. I used to rely on other people so much (their systems, curriculum, policies and procedures) to make sure I was going in the right direction. Hardly ever would I check in with myself to feel out the right next move. But it’s the opposite now. I follow my own intuition because its my life and I’m the best guide for that.
4. Love and Appreciate Who You Are
The more time I’ve devoted to learning about myself and how I am uniquely designed and equipped, the more I appreciate who I am as a person.
It helps me in my personal relationships, work-life, raising my kids, how I prioritize, what I focus on and what I let go of and more.
5. Allow Time and Money for Learning and Development
I am not sure why but I waited a looooooong time before I started to invest time and real dollars into my side-gig.
I know that it was partly financial at first and then it was guilt at spending. But before I ever spent a dime, I didn’t even spend time on my development.
I think it all began to change to the morning I was driving to work and instead of turning on the Top 40s radio station, I listened to a podcast instead. I kept hearing about them and I finally caved and downloaded a few. From that moment on I was hooked. I think one of the first podcasts I listed to was The Goal Digger Podcast by Jenna Kutcher. It’s still a favorite.
It was probably my first exposure to modern entrepreneurship, e-courses, digital products. I was so mind-blown and excited.
Listening to podcasts for free lead to me *very guiltily* pulling out a credit card to buy a book on marketing by Seth Godin. Then I bought another book. I bought my first online course when I saw it on deep discount and then another. Now it’s totally normal for me to invest actual time and money into my passions and development.
It started by telling myself I was at least worth the investment of time. Then I felt comfortable with this type of personal growth, I moved on to tiny purchases of books and courses until I finally was ready to plunk down serious cash for some pivotal online education.
I’m not saying you need to spend any money on personal development and growth. There are so many free resources available by amazing content creators. But eventually, you may discover a passion or hobby that you want to get a deeper understanding of. Then you can think about investing financially. But at first, you may not feel that’s necessary. And that’s fine. But at least make a commitment to yourself that you’re worth the time.
6. You’re Gonna Meet Some Amazing, Inspiring People
Creating content, offering services and/or products is going to introduce you to new spheres of people. These are awesome people who will support you, collaborate with you, offer advice, and want you to succeed. Lean in and say hi!
7. You’re Not Going to Make Sense to Some People
I think I make the least amount of sense to people that know me the best. I’m talking about my family. They have almost no idea what I spend my time on. And if they ever ask, my explanations just seem to confuse them.
So just know that not everyone is going to *get it* and that’s totally ok! Work isn’t the only thing you’ve got to talk about.
8. It Can Help to Improve Other Areas of Your Life
All that personal development has to be good for something, right? I’ve used the lessons I’ve learned to process my emotions and feelings, which means I’m less likely to fly into a nerd-rage over things anymore. I’m more understanding, ask better questions, and allow time for things to cool, if I need to.
I am a better mom, wife, friend, and daughter because I’m investing in personal development.
I have also used what I’ve learned to improve my value add at work. Understanding yourself and how you operate is invaluable and it certainly helps productivity and morale on any team.
Now, if I could email this to myself 10 years ago marked *URGENT*, that’d be great. But since I can’t, I’ll am overjoyed to be sharing this with you. All of these lessons are valuable and I’ve given you a springboard to accelerate your own journey.
9. Know Your Core Values and Beliefs
It’s difficult, if not impossible, to know you’re heading the right direction or to appreciate yourself for who you are if you don’t understand your CORE VALUES.
This is key to going anywhere fast. When your actions are aligned with your core beliefs, you feel boundless energy, fulfillment, and satisfaction. Because you’re aligned, you understand what’s important and unimportant, what is worth your time and what is not.
Core Values also can lead you to where you’re supposed to go. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, directionless, or confused, you probably need to go back and start here.
This was me for the longest time…
**cue the song** Oooooh-ooh-ooh-ohh, for the longest time**
I have always been a hard worker: top of my class, started college classes at 15 years old, full course loads plus leadership roles in school clubs, community work… The list goes on. I value hard work but I didn’t understand myself, how I was uniquely equipped with certain gifts (or even what they were), and I had never clearly defined what my core values were.
So the bottom line here was that I was working around the clock and going in circles. I never felt like I was getting any closer to my goals until I figured out what fueled me at the cellular level (metaphorically speaking, of course).
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One Secret You Can Adopt Today Feeling Joy and Fulfillment
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