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Nights and Weekends: Learning to Embrace Your Passion as a Side Hustle

“Follow your passion.” “Live your dream.” Inspirational sayings like these make it seem like whatever your creative passion is must also be your full-time career, or that having a day job unrelated to your personal interests is a hindrance to pursuing that passion.

But just because certain pursuits don’t often lend themselves to a reliable paycheck or a healthcare plan doesn’t mean you should abandon them altogether. On the contrary: Whether you’re a writer, juggler, tattoo artist or the next big business mogul, it’s time to start thinking of a full-time career as an enabler of your passion, not a roadblock to it.

Here are three reasons why a steady job could be the best thing for your side hustle.

1. It gives you financial stability

There was a time when having a 9-to-5 job with a predictable paycheck, insurance benefits and a retirement fund was considered boring and antithetical to a creatively fulfilling life. But the truth is these things can afford you the flexibility to pursue your passion on your terms without constantly scrambling for financial security.

“We see people from all walks of life coming to Harper College, not just to pursue a new career path, but to pursue their passions as well,” said Scott Cashman, Director of Community Education at Harper College. “Whether it's painting, woodworking or learning French, everyone from full-time attorneys to teachers come to Harper to enhance or elevate their personal interests.”

When there’s less pressure to make ends meet or pay rent every month, there’s more time and energy to dedicate to brainstorming a business plan to your startup or working on a chapter of your novel. Not to mention more income to help pay for your passion, whether that’s supplies for homebrewing or gas money to get to the open mic. Plus, if you have children or plan to in the future, your paychecks can stretch even further in helping to pay for their education and interests.

2. Embrace your creativity limitations

When you’re not beholden to your passion as your only means of income, you can pursue it on your terms rather than out of desperation. You can create for the sheer joy of creating. And because humans are naturally creative, it makes you feel happier and more fulfilled – no matter the quality of the end product. To deny that impulse is to deny an essential part of yourself.

You’ll still have limitations to overcome, whether it’s a demanding work schedule or the costs of doing business – not to mention the all-consuming exhaustion of being a caregiver to kids or the elderly. But limitations are actually a good thing when you’re a creator, as you know you’ll have to make the most of whatever time or brainpower you have rather than always waiting around for inspiration to strike.

So, book that tour. Schedule that audition. Set up that farm stand at the local market. Whatever your thing is, you can and should make it work for you.

3. A better work/life balance

A steady career can provide a dependable schedule, which allows you to better plan your life to pursue your personal interests outside of work. This could mean more quality time with family and friends, more time for extracurricular activities like sports or gaming and more time for vacations, dinners out, concerts and other activities that make for a richer life.

Yet all these things, as rewarding as they are, might be a little more difficult to schedule if your passion is your full-time gig. Blending personal interests with professional obligations can throw your work/life balance out of whack and create a persistent, often unhealthy pressure to work even when you need to rest or play.

The side-hustle life certainly has its benefits – including a more flexible schedule, no bosses to answer to and potentially higher income – but also downsides like inconsistent work, high upfront costs, extreme pressure to succeed and a livelihood tied to performance. As a career model it isn’t for everyone, yet to pursue your creative dreams alongside your professional path is available to anyone willing to use their nights and weekends to improve their lives however that can look for them.

Harper College offers a wide range of career opportunities you can use to develop your professional skills and support your side hustle. Programs such as Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Project Management, and Customer Success and Sales will help you in any aspect of your life.

And if you’re looking for a new passion project, check out our Community Education schedule for classes such as Drawing for Beginners, Improv for Everyone, Judo and Self-Defense, Introduction to Woodworking and much more.

Everyone’s goal should be to live their best, most fulfilling life. So, if you have that passion – that special hobby or activity that really lights you up – you can find a way to make the most of it without compromising the other parts of your life that give you joy as well.

Last Updated: 4/18/24