Pretty frequently, I get asked when I’m going to quit my day job to pursue consulting full-time. People can see that I’m pretty busy with my side-business, so it’s not a strange question to ask.
However, folks are usually surprised when I tell them that I’m not planning on quitting my day job. I happen to like my job and I’m — fortunately — not in a situation where I dread my work during the day and live for my “dream job” on nights and weekends.
This is not the story of many entrepreneurs. In fact, there are lots of resources out there — some good and some not so good — about how to escape your day job and pursue your side-business full time.
I’ve found less stories of people talking about how they are happy with both their day jobs and their side-hustles.
Hence this essay.
Although it can be fun to dream about what it would be like to write all day, have complete control over my schedule, and just have more time for creative projects, when I really think about it… I already have those things.
I’m fortunate that I get to write for my day job (this is why I applied for it, actually), that I get to choose (for the most part) the projects I work on each day, and that I get to create fun things like podcast episodes and research reports.
Here’s the other thing: I actually wonder if part of the reason I’m so productive with my side-business is because I have limited time to devote to it.
I’ve also heard from other people that when you make your passion project into your full-time work, it loses some of its shine and sparkle.
And that makes total sense to me.
Currently, my side-business:
- Pays for itself. I can reinvest side-business revenue into growing the business to better serve my clients.
- Doesn’t pay my mortgage or other living expenses. This means I don’t have to stress if I have a slow month.
- Doesn’t have to provide me (and my partner) with health insurance or benefits. Not having to worry about this is huge for me.
- Can be experimental. Since I’m not relying on my side-business income to support anything other than the business itself, I can afford to fail at things that I want to try for fun.
Sure, I’m investing a lot of time in my side-business and that can cause some stress, but I get to make all the choices about how much work I do and when I’m going to start and launch new projects.
I have the power to shut down any of my side-business projects any time I feel like it. I can also move my (mostly self-imposed) deadlines when needed.
I know that not everyone has a job they enjoy, and I understand that I’m in a privileged place because of my degrees and the work experience I’ve built up over time.
That said, I think it’s important to note that the grass isn’t always greener.
I wouldn’t want to wreck the fun I’m having with my side-business by giving it the full responsibility of supporting me, my partner, and what is now a growing business.
That seems like a recipe for suffocating what, for now at least, is a very good thing.
I also wouldn’t want to give up the relationships I’ve built in my day job and the good work we’re doing there to contribute to online teaching and learning research.
So, for now, I’ll be continuing the juggle and living in the best of both worlds.
To think on:
- When have you realized in your professional life that the grass isn’t always greener?