A side project (a free lance gig, home project, goal or hobby) will drive your passion, fuel your energy and enrich your life. If you do it right, taking on a side project can be a rewarding and life changing experience.
I haven't always been a life coach or a business owner. In fact, if you told me 5 years ago that one day I would be self employed I might have just laughed in your face! You see, for over 3 ½ years I was a project manager in one of Ireland's top universities. I was working 9-5 in an office job that I used to dream of and in a discipline I felt very passionate about. However, during a particularly stressful time in my personal and professional life I reached breaking point.
I was stressed, anxious and slowly starting to realise that my passion for work was diminishing - I was no longer fulfilled! I began to sense that I needed a change but I wasn't ready to quit my job.
However, in June of 2013 James said 5 words that would change my life forever, 'The Better Life Project Centre'. This was the moment my business was born! Nevertheless, before the money, before TEDx or business awards, before being invited to travel for work or meeting with clients from countries all over the world, The BLP was a meaningful side project that I nurtured and grew for over 15 months when I got home from the office. I have to pinch myself whenever I think about how my stand out life coaching business began... as a hobby!
The benefits of a side project are endless, even life changing! A side project can help you feel like you are back in control of your life again, give you something to look forward to and increase your over all happiness, improve your career, give you a sense of purpose and fulfilment and inspire you to learn new skills, grow in confidence and vitality.
But before you register the domain name, hand in your notice and spend all your savings check out what I have learned about starting a side project; 5 tips that might save you a lot of hassle, heart ache and confusion. Also, don't miss out on some inspiration so make sure to read all the way to the end for a list of ideas to help you get your side project started.
Don't quit your day job (yet!)
Though your day job may feel like it eats up all of your time, the numbers don’t lie: If you spend eight hours per day at work, you still have eight hours to sleep and another eight to do what ever you want. I know for a some people reading this a 40 hour week is a dream but none the less it remains the standard thereby leaving a lot of space in your life for other things. A side project will take the focus away from any problems or anxieties you are feeling about work and inspire you to think more positively about your future. For me, my side project provided a healthy distraction and gave me perspective - my job was important, but I learned that it was not the most important thing. Side projects are liberating. My side project had an amazing impact of my career because it meant that I wasn't stressed, anxious or overwhelmed anymore. I was happier, more creative and more productive.
For as long as you let it, your full time job can 'fund' your side project and your side project will repay you with increased joy, productivity and success. So, don't quit your day job (just yet).
Whether or not you are hoping that your side project will reinvigorate and enrich your life, be the start of something bigger or simply create space for you to pursue your passion always remember that small steps will lead to big changes. One of the biggest challenges to starting is the risk of overwhelm or stress. Be generous with the time you give yourself to get your project off the ground and completed. Slow and steady wins the race!
Follow your passion
Your side project should be about something you are passionate about, something that makes your heart soar and your eyes glimmer. Yes, one day there is no reason why you can't monetise it but in the beginning your only job is to love what you do. When you are passionate about something and excited to share what you love with the world the money will naturally follow.
Learn as you go
When you are starting out your focus should be on learning so let go of any ulterior motives you have (such an creating additional income, gaining notoriety) for the moment and just enjoy getting started. Make mistakes, meet new people, try new things and simply enjoy losing yourself to this new found hobby.
My failures have taught me more than my successes ever will. Don't be afraid to make mistakes or fail and always remember to aspire to progress, not perfection. As an idea maker, goal setter and passion pursuer the best way for you to learn is by doing.
Make a plan
I knew, straight away, that The BLP wasn't going to be a side project forever so a plan was vital to my success but it is not necessary for everyone. Your side project can be what ever you want it to be, for how ever long you want it to remain in your life. Nevertheless, if you are ready to make the transition from side project to part time, or even full time employment establishing some sort of plan will help you remain clear, confident and secure.
Taking on a new project successfully can change your life. I hope these helpful tips will help you add value to your free time and enrich your life for the best. The BLP changed my life in more ways than one and I hope that one day you will give yourself a chance to experience the benefits of a side project.
Sarah is a life coach and motivational speaker. As the co-founder of The Better Life Project, a movement dedicated to helping you live happy, healthy, positive and confident lives and with oodles of infectious energy she is super passionate about helping to inspire feel, life and be better. She’s the “go to” life coach for anyone feeling stuck in a rut, lacking in confidence or struggling with low self-esteem or body image. Sarah offers life coaching and mentoring services and works with clients in person in Dublin, Ireland and over Skype around the world.
Side Project Ideas
- A travel, food, fashion or make up blog (start by using Instagram).
- Sharing your creative pieces online using Etsy or Depop.
- Acting (Register with Movie Extras), voice overs or modelling.
- Evening or part time courses.
- Learn a new language, musical instrument or take up a new sport.
- A house project such as renovating a room, garage or shed.
- Planning a holiday including daily excursions, learning about the language and culture.
- Volunteering at a local charity (See Volunteer Ireland).
- Volunteer to sit on a not-for-profit Board (See Board Match)
- Register as a freelancer with Upwork or Fiverr.
- Become a teacher with L-School and join a growing community of women helping women.