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5 Steps to Stay Sane When Launching a Side Hustle

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side hustle

Slash careerists, moonlighting, freelancing. There are many terms for working extra jobs, but no matter what you call it, more than 44 million people have side hustles.

Millennials aren’t the only ones creating new sources of income while holding down a day job. Baby boomers are cashing in on the trend as well. Soon-to-be-retirees out-earn Millennials when it comes to side hustle income, taking home an average of $1,000 a month.

The opportunity and potential for side hustles is exciting. Many successful entrepreneurs have turned a passion project into a full-time business.

But making the time for a side hustle when you’re already busy can be a challenge. Starting a new venture also carries a lot of stress. There’s no shortage of emotional ups-and-downs when you’re embarking on any creative endeavor, side hustles included. The late nights and hard work can take a toll.

How do you stay sane while building a side hustle?

Here are a few tips to help:

1. Rely on systems and a schedule

Look for ways to limit decision fatigue by automating parts of your life. Create a capsule wardrobe. Outsource laundry, dry cleaning, or meal planning. That will create more margin and white space so you can focus on meaningful work.

What gets scheduled gets done. Build time for your side hustle into your schedule, even if that means waking up a few hours earlier for a month or zeroing your inbox after the kids go to bed. Experiment with when you’re most productive to find a schedule that works best for you.

2. Create strong boundaries

If you’re going through a stressful period trying to get your side hustle off the ground, it’s important to let people know that. Family and friends can’t read your mind, so be clear about expectations. Err on the side of over-communicating.

Boundaries become all the more significant if you’re going to be working from home. Be sure to implement rules on when it’s OK or not OK to interrupt you. Designate a workspace that’ll allow you to fully focus on your side hustle. Commit to stop working at a certain hour to transition to downtime.

3. Avoid the comparison trap

Fear of missing out (FOMO) will only distract you from side hustle success. Be conscious of your social media consumption. Don’t get caught up in the cycle of compare-and-despair.

Embrace just-in-time learning and focus on pursuing client work, passion projects, networking events, and conferences that are aligned with your values and personal goals.

4. Build well-being into your business plan

Side hustle burnout is a real risk, especially if you’re skipping sleep, exercise, and sacrificing self-care to get your venture off the ground. In fact, nearly three-quarters of business owners have concerns about their mental health. Almost half have struggled with depression or anxiety.

Your well-being is your best business asset. Just as you schedule time for work, restorative activities related to your emotional and mental health need to be on the calendar.

5. Focus on small wins and celebrate often

Humans are motivated by a sense of mastery, so aim for small wins within big goals. Break down your side hustle mini-milestones into that are reasonably attainable and incremental.

For example, aim to write consistently for 30-minutes a day. Or shoot to have your About page created this month and your entire website finished by the end year. This way, you can measure your progress and have metrics to measure against as you go along.

Most importantly, don’t downplay your achievements. Stop talking about your accomplishments in a diminutive way. Nix defeatist thinking like “This side hustle is going nowhere” or “My business will never be successful” in favor of motivating self-talk.

Regularly reviewing your progress is a great way to ward off dream-killing doubts and Imposter Syndrome. Celebrate each success as you achieve it, no matter how small it seems right now.

Starting a side hustle can be stressful and stir up challenging emotions. Choose to see fear — when it inevitably pops up — as a sign that you’re pushing the edges of your comfort zone. After all, that’s where the most rewarding growth happens.

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Hi, I'm Melody

I help smart, sensitive high-achievers overcome insecurity and overwhelm so they can thrive in the workplace.

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