Is what you’re doing what you’re doing or is it a side hustle? According to fool.com, which is actually a pretty good financial site, some 37% of Americans do. Perhaps you’re selling Tupperware, or you’ve found a way to make something cool in your basement and sell it at fairs or the lure of driving for Uber or Lyft has drawn you in.
I know one couple who made soap in their home. But their side hustle wasn’t just about making a few bucks on the side, it was about laying the groundwork for their future. Perhaps your side hustle is this - doing something on the side that you’d much rather be doing as your full-time gig.
This is a much smaller group but, for whatever reason, a good number of people who I know are in this category. They’ve got a dream situation that they’re trying to work while also balancing another gig that pays the majority, or all of, the bills. Sometimes it even subsidizes the side hustle.
As you know I’m an avid listener to podcasts and spend at least two hours per day listening to various podcasts. That’s all car time. While I certainly have my favorites, every once in a while a new one enters the mix and takes a seat at the table. That was Speak Your Success with Jonathan J. Jones.
The most recent episode of Jonathan’s podcast really hit home with him speaking out “burning the ships.” Essentially, the advice is to concentrate on the area you seek to make your full-time hustle and abandon the side hustle strategy altogether. His advice: burn the ships.
The analogy goes that when some ancient explorers got to their destinations they had a mission; either to conquer the lands they reached or change the religious leanings of the people they met or whatever. Since ocean travel was the way to go in those days, one way to enlist the commitment of the crew who sailed with you is to burn the ships you arrived on which meant the crew was forced to accomplish their mission. Or die trying.
Burn The Ship was born from an idea that originated in 1519. That year, Hernán Cortés set sail to Veracruz, Mexico with his crew. Upon arrival, Cortés' men became weary and scared, with hopes of turning back home to their old life.
As legend has it, Cortez had the men burn their ships, leaving no option but to press on. Their ability to retreat to their previous way of life was gone; their safety net had been removed.
The burning of those ships represented much more than a separation from old ways. The same fire that set the ships ablaze also allowed Cortés’ men to complete their mission and be a part of something greater than themselves.
This easily translates to us nowadays as our having a side hustle means we’re diluting our efforts and making everything we do not 100%. By doing “what we want to do” on the side but working at something else the majority of the time, we’re taking our pool of capability and creativity and not using it to its greatest effect.
For some there’s an end game in sight. For example, my friends who built the soap business in their home had the vision of opening a retail establishment and ultimately building a mail order/web-based business. It took a while to get that going and they spent many, many of their waking hours away from the “day jobs” working on the soap business. Today, they’ve exceeded their goals and continue to push forward.
But, for some, the side hustle is just a distraction or isn’t reaching its full potential because they’re just not investing the time and passion into it to make it hit its targets. Make no mistake, some people will never be able to translate their side hustle into a full-time operation for a variety of reasons. And, there’s nothing wrong with having a hobby either.
But, for some people, it may be time to grab a can of gasoline, a few matches and a row boat. I hope this blog post, like Jonathan’s podcast episode, makes you take a second look at that ship out in the harbor. His post absolutely caused me to take a new look at the way I’ve set my world up and there will be some changes.
It’s great to have a stretch goal as well as short-term goals, especially if they’re measurable and you hit the steps along the way as intended. And sometimes you just have to burn the ships.