How do you know what you should be spending the rest of your life on? What is your THING? For some I suppose that might seem like a strange questions. Some people are born knowing exactly what they want to be and what they want to do.
Those people probably don’t look up from their keyboard three years into an “entry level” job realizing they couldn’t care any less about the latest development from the world of printer cartridges. Those people probably set their sights on their dream in elementary school and work toward it with a single minded focus of a pit bull on a bone until they get it.
I’m more of a Jack Russel Terrier. No one has ever accused me of having an especially long attention span. I get excited quickly, jump in whole heartedly, and bore easily. I always knew I loved to write but lacked the sticktuitivness to make it my business, partially because I honestly didn’t think I could. I didn’t really ever believe I could make a living from writing, so I never put the work into it that I should.
I’m trying to change that.
In the meantime, I’ve discovered lots of other things that make me happy, that I could spend all day doing and never feel bored or restless. And that Jack Russell Terrier-like energy and go for it has made me kind of an expert at finding new passions.
So whats yours? Or how will you know it when you find it?
How long can you sit and do it?
If your main long term goal for your side hustle is to turn it into your main hustle, this question is crucial. One day you may be doing this as your 9 – 5 (or 5 – 9, or whatever, the perks of working for yourself, amiright?) and you need to be okay with that. Even better, you need to be ecstatic about that. You’re going to be taking care of yourself and possibly a family with this income and you have got to be able to make yourself do it even when you don’t want to.
Sorry to tell you this, but sometimes you won’t want to.
And when you don’t it’s a lot easier to make yourself fill that order or write that blog if it’s about something you really really love.
Otherwise you might as well be reading printer ink newsletters.
So sit and think, ask yourself, and answer honestly. Could I do this day after day, day in and day out, for years? Do you routinely lose yourself in the task? Do you lose track of time? Do you miss meals? If so, I’d say you’re pretty safe inside your wheelhouse. If not, you might want to do a little more soul searching before you hand in that two weeks notice at the printer job.
Do you enjoy learning more about it?
Have you ever seen the movie Gone in Sixty Seconds? It’s a great car flick (although Nicholas Cage leaves a lot to be desired as a car thief, but thats another passion for another time) and in it Cage approaches Angelina Jolie to ask her to come work with him on one last big car boost. In the scene, Jolie is working as a car mechanic and then has to rush off to her job as a bartender. When Cage’s character asks about her working two jobs she says “you have to work twice as hard when it’s honest”.
I certainly hope being a car thief isn’t your side hustle, but that line always stuck with me and I think it really applies to us hustlers. You have to hustle twice as hard when it’s for yourself.
You cannot rest on your laurels when it comes to your side hustle. Even, and especially, when it becomes your full time hustle. And if you’re just starting out you can never assume that you already know everything you need to know. Because no matter what you’re doing, somebody else is probably already doing it, has been doing it longer and is probably better. You need to be constantly working to pull the edge back to your side.
Never stop learning about your THING. If you want to be a designer, read design blogs, learn about the latest trends. If you aspire to be a chef, you need to be in the kitchen, learning new combinations and techniques, watching cooking shows and making your friends and family your taste bud guinea pigs.
Read books, read blogs, watch documentaries, listen to podcasts. But whatever you do, don’t stop learning. Become an expert, bore your friends and families with sentences that start with “did you know…” and remember theres always something else to learn.
Does the thought of doing THE THING make you want to leap out of bed in the morning?
This is important when THE THING is your full time job, but it’s even more important when it’s just your side hustle. Because you’ve already got a job. Which means you’ve got a pretty small amount of time between job, family, kids, chores and general life responsibilities to be working on your THING. You will probably have to carve time out of other things…like sleep.
Like it or not, and I fall squarely into the second category, most people are most productive first thing in the morning. You’ll probably get more of your custom book covers sewn between 5 and 6 am than you will between 8 and 9 pm when your husband has the tv on, the dog needs to be fed and the kids need help with their homework.
If you’re not a morning person, heres a tip: Start small. If all you can do is drag yourself out of bed in the morning, start with reading a book that relates to your THING. Brew yourself a cup of coffee and read a few chapters from that latest entrepreneur book you’ve heard so much about. When you’re used to it and are able to feel like a human that early in the morning, take other steps to be more productive like writing a blog post or sketching out some new designs in those quiet early morning hours.
I’m a firm believer that everyone has a passion. Everyone has a THING. Not everyone’s THING is the same, and thank goodness because that would be boring. But when people say “I’m just not good at anything” or “I’m not really interested in anything” I am left pinning them with a completely disingenuous smile. I can’t help it. I just don’t think it’s true. It’s not that you’re not good at anything, it’s that you haven’t looked hard enough.
So it’s time to sound off, Passion People. What’s your THING? And how do you know?