2020 has been a rough year, huh?
Globally, we’ve been faced with more challenges and hardships than any of us could have predicted when we rang in the new year.
If you’re among the lucky ones who work in an industry that has allowed you to maintain your job and health at a safe distance (like me), one of your primary battles during this time might be the feeling of having too much time on your hands to finally reflect on and assess how dissatisfied you might be with certain areas of your life.
With limited weekend outings and socialization (fun distractions), all you can do is take a good long look at yourself.
At your life.
At your relationships
At your career.
At what you want out of life now that the better part of a year has passed you by without the ability to do much of what you had initially planned going into 2020.
What is a side project (or side hobby)?
Side projects come in many forms but are typically projects or activities started and worked on outside of normal work hours.
It can take the form of:
- Looking for a new challenge or learning opportunity
- Teaching yourself a new skill (whether for your job, a potential future job, or a hobby such as playing guitar)
- Pursuing an idea for your own business in a low-risk way (i.e. without quitting your day job)
- Picking up a new creative hobby that gives you something to share with people (check out my mural hunting Instagram account — it let’s me be artistic and creative in the photos I take, as well as giving me a fun & interactive excuse to spend time with my loved ones exploring any new city I visit!)
Whether it’s a creative outlet, a too-long-ignored passion, or a side business you’ve long convinced yourself you “do not have time for”, a side project can have many positive impacts on multiple areas of your life — during a pandemic or not.
Side projects helps you be more efficient and creative
The right side project helps you manage your time better.
If you find the right side project, you’ll be so excited to work on it that you can’t wait to be finished with your regular responsibilities.
Plus, the side project allows you to use your brain in a different way, often sparking your creativity which translates into more and better ideas in other areas of your life.
You might find yourself more excited to wake up earlier and work on it in the mornings, rather than hitting SNOOZE and sleeping more to pass the time.
Your excitement really helps drive you to get what you need to get done in as little time as possible, in order to allow you time for your side project.
This can boost your performance at work IN ADDITION to freeing up your time to do more of what matters to you (aka new side project!)
A lot of times we passively allow our life to drift from work to non-work time with loved ones and back. Spice it up a little, exercise your creativity, and in doing so, make yourself more efficient and effective.
Side projects build your skills
Are you convinced you’re in the wrong career field, but you’re scared of taking a huge risk in doing a complete 180 and starting something new? A side project is a great opportunity to learn new skills with lower risk.
Or maybe you’re not sure if you’d prefer something else better than your current job, and want a low risk way to see if you like other types of work — or if you’d even be good enough at it to pursue a career.
A side project is perfect for this. And these days, if you have a computer and Internet access, the possibilities are endless for building your skills (provided its something that you’re excited and motivated to pursue).
Side projects can help your mental health
Plain and simple, side projects can boost your mental health by providing an escape from work. This can be particularly helpful when you’re struggling to feel fulfilled at your current job, feeling trapped, or simultaneously working through other obstacles in life.
Side projects enable you to bring your best self into ALL your relationships
We humans are complex beings. When we put all our eggs in one basket, we start to feel all our needs aren’t being met. When we feel genuinely unhappy, it can bleed into all our relationships (romantic, professional, or otherwise) and cause us to feel like a different person. We then blame aspects of the relationships, or even the people themselves.
When in reality, something as simple as finding and pursuing a passion can bring us a level of happiness and fulfillment that helps us on a personal level, which in turn strengthens all our relationships.
It’s similar to how we thrive when we have a variety of fulfilling relationships in our life, and feel loved and cared for in different ways, rather than simply placing all our happiness on a single person in a romantic relationship and that’s it.
I’m not saying a side project will magically mend a broken or toxic relationship. But if issues that arise truly stem from feelings of dissatisfaction within ourselves, and a side project can really help you recognize the distinction.
Side projects make you a more well-rounded, interesting person
A side project or hobby is a great way to pursue variety and balance in life.
It’s a break from the normal cadence of our weeks where we spend so many hours doing the same or similar things. Many of us, when asked how our week went, don’t have many interesting stories or information to share.
Side projects or hobbies are a way to explore a unique side of ourselves. A passion that truly lights a fire within us.
They are a way to take our knowledge and learning into our own hands. I may have studied [X] in school, but I’ve always wanted to know more about [Y].
A side project provides us more structure and incentive to pursue these interests, and enables us to share more of our true selves with people who know us and also with the world.
Side projects help you connect with new communities of like-minded people
And finally, a side project can be a great way to meet like-minded individuals who also share the same interests. This is primarily done through social media (though not exclusively). Not only can it provide you with motivation to continue to pursue your side project, but you will also learn a TON from others, as well as meet some amazing, supportive people along the way!
Side projects (or hobbies) come in many forms but are typically projects or activities started and worked on outside of normal work hours.
6 ways a side project helps you live more fully in other areas of your life
- Side projects helps you be more efficient and creative
- Side projects build your skills
- Side projects can help your mental health
- Side projects enable you to bring your best self into ALL your relationships
- Side projects make you a more well-rounded, interesting person
- Side projects help you connect with new communities of like-minded people