If you lost your job tomorrow, how long would it be before you started selling things? How soon before a truck pulled up outside to repossess your car?
If you’ve read my posts for a while (here, and at midlifetribe.com), you’ll know how much I advocate multiplying your income with a side business. That’s because relying on a single source of income makes you pretty vulnerable, and a successful side hustle can minimise that risk.
I’ve always worked a job plus one or more side-hustles at the same time. Even when I was a spotty teenager working at the local gym, I never wanted to rely on one company for my money, so I did photography, sales and odd jobs as well.
Today, it’s a hundred times easier thanks to this thing called the Internet, where almost anyone can create side-hustles from their kitchen table. The world is awash with ideas you can turn into a lucrative money-maker.
The thing is, though, finding the time and energy for a side hustle is hard when you work full-time. And if you have a family or you commute long distances to work, it’s REALLY hard.
To mitigate those problems, I push the idea of restructuring your work arrangements so you can work remotely. It frees up a huge amount of time and energy when you dispense with all the commuting, the meetings and the morning prep before rushing out the door.
But whether you make that change or not, the fact is it’s going to take consistent effort and a stomach for playing the long game. Believe me, it was so much harder 20 years ago when we didn’t have cheap computers, smartphones, the Internet or social media.
So let’s look at five things that have worked for me – the practices that give me enough energy to freelance for billion-dollar companies, have a writing career, create a podcast and become an active investor. These ideas mightn’t give you the stamina of a 20-year-old, but they’ll go a long way to making your trailblazing dreams a lot more plausible.
Make sure you love it.
Whenever you try something new, there will always be setbacks, disappointments, and screw-ups. To add insult to it all, if you do something just for the money, you’ll almost certainly fail. Worse, you’ll have wasted time pursuing something you shouldn’t have started when that time could have been put to something you might have enjoyed – with or without the money.
I can’t stress this one enough. It’s why high-flying corporates burn out. It’s why lawyers, senior VPs and captains of industry quit their careers.
If you do something you genuinely enjoy; something that falls easily to hand – something you’d almost do for free, you’ll make it through the grind. In fact, it probably won’t even feel like work.
If you’re going to create a side-hustle, pick something you’ll happily do for years before it turns a buck. This decision alone will give you most of the energy you’ll need to keep going when no one’s paying attention to your grand idea.
Sleep early – start early.
Whether you’re a morning person or not, science has proven that most people’s brains produce peak creative energy in the first few hours of the day.
Rising early each day to work on your side-hustle has the added benefit of boosting the rest of your day. Knowing that you’ve put in a couple of hours towards your business before you head off to your day job is great for your morale. You feel you’re making progress with something that matters. It also allows you to focus on your day job without wishing you were somewhere else for nine hours a day.
I recommend scheduling everything, including the things that fall outside your job. My schedule covers each ‘segment’ of my day, including when to wake, when to exercise, when to write and when to spend time with my kids. It includes reading, breaks, meals and sleep.
Sleep, incidentally, is one thing you shouldn’t mess with. If you want to live a better life, and especially if you want to ‘crush it’ and be super-productive during the day, this is one the single greatest life hacks you can master. Sure, if you’re 19, you’ve probably got more energy than you know what to do with. I used to work 16-18-hour days all the time in my twenties, and I loved it. At 51, though, I think it would kill me.
“The way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is getting enough sleep.” – Arianna Huffington (co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post)
Get off your arse.
Sitting is the new smoking…and drinking and over-eating and cheating, and probably a dozen other things.
Sitting all day affects your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure, and its capacity to metabolize fat. If you sit for more than six hours a day, your risk of heart disease goes up more than 60%, you increase your risk of cancer and it shaves years off your lifespan.
So, it’s very bad, then.
If your job requires that you sit on your arse all day, you’ll know what it does to your energy levels. It obliterates them. So what should you do?
I have two very simple tips. Walk at least twice a day for twenty minutes each time (I do it at 8:30 am and 3:00 pm); and get yourself a stand-up desk so you can stand and work at different intervals throughout the day. I use an Uplift electric desk and it’s brilliant! If you’re in Australia, you can get yours from endoofficefurniture.com.au.
A stand-up desk needn’t be a glamorous affair. I bought a fancy electric one with presets for my two favourite positions but you can buy a simple mechanical thing that sits on top of your desk so you can raise the area with your computer on it. Don’t stand all day, though. Alternate from standing to sitting every couple of hours for the full benefit.
Almost immediately, I promise you’ll notice a change in your energy levels.
Just a 2% drop in your fluid levels constitutes dehydration. Dehydration reduces your cognitive power and as a result, your productivity.
Many of us reach for coffee or energy drinks when our energy levels drop, but more than likely the real culprit is a lack of water.
Dehydration is such an easy thing to combat just by upping your daily intake of water. The key is awareness and working towards developing the habit of drinking more.
- Keep a bottle of water on your desk. Chances are you will develop the habit of sipping it frequently.
- Don’t drink chilled water. Your body won’t absorb it until it reaches body temperature and you’ll waste energy just heating it up in your stomach.
- Watch what you snack on – replace processed snacks with nuts and fruit. Keep a bowl of it on your desk so that reaching for something healthy becomes habitual.
- Be aware that caffeine and alcohol are diuretics – they simply make you pee more, so you lose fluids more quickly. Restrict their intake.
- Sip a glass of water with your meals. Not only will your intake of fluids increase but you will also eat more slowly and feel fuller sooner.
Chronic mild dehydration and inadequate fluid intake create an increased risk of kidney stones, urinary tract cancers, colon cancer, mitral valve prolapse as well as diminished physical and mental performance. Take a look at this article for more.
Forget perfect. Aim for done.
I’m a perfectionist, but I’m trying to grow out of it. Perfectionism saps energy by slowing progress and diminishing pleasure. And if you no longer enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll find a dozen ways to quit.
Rather than demand perfection, seek execution. You can always polish things later. No one’s going to criticize you. At least you’re doing something; you’re making progress. Setting activity-based goals (write for 30 minutes each morning) vs outcome goals (publish a book) far more satisfying. And the best thing is, you feel successful immediately because you’re doing the thing.
In any case, your version of ‘good enough’ is probably someone else’s version of ‘awesome’. By all means, do great work, but don’t become so obsessed with the minutia lest you decide it’s all too hard and give up.
Starting a side business isn’t easy. But the beauty of it is, you can start small, and you can take all the time you need. No one’s standing over you with a gun, a whip, and a chair.
By taking small, deliberate steps each day towards your dream, you’ll find yourself in that rare group of people who started something they cared about and didn’t give up on it. That alone is pretty satisfying. But more than that, the world – the market – values consistency. It rewards persistence.
Many of the world’s greatest businesses started in garages and on kitchen tables.
Often, they began with very simple goals, predicated on serving a particular niche in a particular way. Yours might work, or it might not. But if you believe in what you’re doing and you enjoy doing it, you’ve already won.
If you persist and you listen to what the market tells you, and you iterate as you go, you’ll probably wake up one day with the life you always dreamed about.
The question is, will you give this dream of yours the energy it requires?
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