How To Find & Embrace Your 'Side Hustle' As A Path To Fulfillment

Photo: Dragana Gordic /
Woman working at home with child in background

If you’ve contemplated a career change recently, a side hustle could be the bridge to get you there.

A side hustle, or part-time job you perform on your personal time, can bring in some needed extra cash while adding purpose and meaning to your life.

A family embraces the side hustle

I’m surrounded by a family of entrepreneurs and side-hustlers. My daughter does photography and my middle son has already started three businesses, including his current videography gig.

Our eldest son is starting a side-hustle to edit and proof research papers from Ph.D. students. My dad started his own barbershop more than a half-century ago — he still offers the occasional cut.

My brother has a successful car detailing business. And my sister is a teacher who has authored and co-authored a number of books as her side hustle.

Over the years, I did voiceovers for a little extra cash. But I mostly played it safe, leaning on the security of government communications jobs. My career choice allowed my wife to stay home to raise our three kids.

However, in today’s economy, a single-income family may seem further out of reach.

With inflation rising and the chaos and uncertainty of ever-changing work models, more people are reimagining a better way to take greater control over their work.

RELATED: How To Find A Career You Love — 5 Steps To Identifying Your Passions & Your Dream Job

Why now is a great time to pursue a side hustle

Working a corporate job from a home office these past two plus years has had its pros and cons. My coaching clients told me it took time to adjust, yet many have opted to remain working from home.

Keep up with inflation

While working from home has cut down on commuting expenses, inflation is eating away at the dollars we spend and try to save. With prices increasing faster than the 1981 recession, people want to have the security that extra cash provides.

The additional time many have due to working from home provides an opportunity to earn more cash.

Reclaim lost time

Some of my clients, especially those in major cities like Los Angeles and New York, have regained as much as three hours a day in commuting time. A few would open their laptops when their morning commute would normally begin, mindlessly frittering away their time answering emails that could have easily waited.

By the usual time of the evening commute, they were still at it. When they realized they were essentially donating their commute time back to the company, they wanted to repurpose that time to benefit themselves and their careers.

RELATED: 10 Steps To Move On To A Better Career For You

Imagine a Better Future

Many used the net gain in time to contemplate a better future. Were their careers providing passion and purpose beyond a paycheck? Or did they come to realize that more than a third of their waking hours were spent in what the late author David Graeber considers a bullsh*t job?

Meaningless work

Graeber notes, “BS jobs are jobs which even the person doing the job can’t really justify the existence of, but they have to pretend that there’s some reason for it to exist.”

However, we shouldn't confuse these kinds of jobs with work that is downright miserable. There are meaningful careers that are useful and necessary. Some may consider them dangerous or unpleasant to do. Think garbage collection. Think the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs.”

Meaningless work is dangerous in a different way. We stay busy enough not to give much thought to our circumstances. The reality is that many of us are paid well to do something the world could do without. Yet, most would love to have meaningful work.

If you could do what you loved, what would you do?

RELATED: How To Learn To Love The Job You Have — Instead Of Always Looking For Something Better

Who is doing side hustles?

According to a June 2022 Zapier poll, men (44%) and women (37%) of all ages are finding purpose and extra cash flow through the pursuit of a side hustle. The survey states that 40% of Americans are already engaged in a side hustle, up from 34% in 2020. Of the 2,000 Americans who participated in the poll, almost 700 were already engaged in a side hustle.

Younger adults are the most likely to have a side hustle, with Gen Z and Millennials leading the charge at about 60%. According to the survey, 36% of Gen-Xers and 22% of Boomers already have a side hustle in 2022.

How to find a side hustle that works for you

Before launching a new side hustle, it pays to spend time contemplating what would be different if you did.

RELATED: Changing My Career In My 20s Was The Best Decision I Ever Made

Why a side hustle?

The most essential step is to ask yourself what motivates you to want a side hustle. Is it for financial reasons? More security? To do something more fulfilling than your full-time job?

Knowing the “why” will help you to stay focused on following through with your goal.

What are you good at?

Secondly, what are you good at doing? It doesn’t have to be what you’re doing at your full-time job. If what you do at work drains you, think of other skills you could perform for cash. Make a list.

RELATED: A 10-Step Guide To Finding A Career You Love Right Now

What do you love?

Doing what you love and doing what you’re good at do not always perfectly intersect. If you’re passionate enough about doing something, you’re more likely to start to gain experience and hone the skills you’ll need before offering your service or product.

What do you have?

Finally, do you have the physical tools necessary for your planned side hustle? A computer with internet access and some basic skills are often all that’s needed to get you going. If not for creating internet content, the web is your gateway to connections to things you could do in the real world. Think Fiverr, Etsy, Upwork, Rover for dog walkers or rent out a property on Vrbo.

What’s stopping you?

Common limiting beliefs preventing you from moving forward include lack of time, energy, and money.

A side hustle takes too much time

Despite what you may think, a side hustle requires only a little of your time. According to the Zapier survey, the average side hustler spent 13.4 hours per week at it, while 44% spent less than 10 hours weekly. Imagine if, like some of my clients, you’ve been able to reclaim three hours a day.

Dedicating that time toward your side hustle four days per week would bring you close to the time the average side hustler spends.

It takes too much energy

It can be a vicious cycle. Work is exhausting, yet you’re spending extra hours there for no extra pay. Certainly, it’s exhausting. You’ve given others permission to push your boundaries and trespass on your time, energy and space. Bad bosses, incompetent work colleagues, long commutes and inflexible work hours are the most cited obstacles to good professional boundaries. Watch for the signs of burnout — it happened to me.

No one will pay Me

Americans who have a side hustle make an average of more than $12,000 annually from it, with nearly 40% saying they make at least $5,000 a year. Would a time investment of 12 hours a week be worth an extra grand a month for you?

It costs too much to start a side hustle

Getting started doesn’t have to break the bank either. Look here for some excellent entrepreneurship ideas that require less than a $1,000 investment.

RELATED: Stop Living To Work: How To Embrace A True Work-Life Balance, According To A CEO

My transformational pursuit of a 'side hustle' 

As the feeling of fulfillment waned in my communications career, I pondered the possibilities. What could I do? What would I love to do? This self-reflection led to enrolling in a coach training program.

Now, 200 clients and 1,000 hours later, coaching others to reach their goals feeds my passion and provides for me financially. It allowed me to retire early from my corporate job. And I’ve not regretted it for a single second.

What about you?

Whether to improve finances, for personal fulfillment or to create a bridge to a career change, starting a side hustle can be inexpensive and take up little of your extra time. Like the barbers, car detailers, videographers, editors, narrators and photographers in my family, you could be among the 40% (and growing) number of entrepreneurs and side hustlers in operation today.

These are the people who are taking control of their time and creating greater financial security by doing what they love. When will your turn be?

RELATED: 5 Side Hustles To Try If You're Looking For Additional Income

Brent Roy, PCC, CMC, is a certified career and personal development coach and certified mentor coach. Brent can help you increase your confidence to help you get your side hustle started. For more ways he can help, reach out to Brent.