My Side Hustle Is A Practice Of Authenticity
When the pandemic started, two things came up into my mind. Thank God I have a job and Oh no, I don’t really have a space to work in at home. I would guess that these were probably the same things that came up in your mind when you abruptly received an email from your employer that next week, we are working from home indefinitely. If you are a parent, this is of course surrounded by the uncertainty of not only COVID-19, but also of your children running around you as you work in the kitchen table. And for some, this is probably still happening right now, 7 months later.
In my experience, these two things were already part of a to-do list. Working from a home office is a work in progress that has already been living on the back of my mind.
When I took my job, I knew that it will require a 40 minute commute (one way!) and that it will be tiring. But.I also knew that a well paying full time job (despite the commute) will allow our family to increase our quality of life. For a good year and a half, it has proven to be true. But one year in, the time and energy used up in the car was starting to get to me. I also have gotten a taste of WFH (work from home) from the few times when we were snowed in. And I enjoyed it.
When my employer decided that we could work from home, I was really excited. I was excited that I could spend time with the family, work in my own time, at my own pace and most importantly, spend less time in the car, and more outdoors. But on the back of my mind, I also saw this as an opportunity to do something in addition to my work.
As a boy who grew up with a father who was an industrialist and semi entrepreneur, I noticed that he worked all times during the day. He took phone calls in the middle of family meals and went home different times during the week. Out of no-where we would get a new car and after a few weeks, it would be sold. I was not sure what my dad did for money, I knew he worked at a factory but it was clear that he also had a side hustle. But when I asked, I never got a straight answer. Or perhaps, I just didn’t understand it at the time.
The concept of a “side-hustle” is becoming an actual job description in this modern world. Society acknowledges that it is common and acceptable to have something to work on in addition to your full time job. Not a second job, or your own business, but something sort of a hobby, that one can use to pay one bill out of their stack of bills.
I think the most common approach to a side-hustle is to do something that can help make you money to help you with your cashflow. Rich Dad talks about instead of reducing your expenses, but to look for ways to increase your cashflow while maintaining or increasing your expenses to improve your quality of life. The concept may be out there if you are struggling financially, but from an abundance point of view, it is what you focus on is what you will receive more of.
But there is also another way, a more authentic way to find your side-hustle. Instead of coming from an intention to make more money, as an outcome, a different, and more authentic approach would be to have a side-hustle as part of your fulfillment.
I hired a coach to help me find my side hustle. I was also reading Rich Dad at the same time when I started working with a coach. I understood and saw the EBSI (Employment, Business, Self employed, Investor) quadrant as a way to define fulfillment. I saw it as a way one can fulfill their life as an employee for a steady income, create a business as a process, contribute to society as a self employed teacher, and invest their money for the future. It was clear to me. And I can see how this model not only creates fulfillment but creates a circle of wealth and contribution with me in the middle.
But when I looked for the thing that I wanted to do, I focused on what I knew best. For me that was, technology. See, I work in the software development industry for over 8 years now. The concept of creating requirements and hiring people to create a software or a mobile app is like second nature. I can see the process from start to finish and I can manage a project successfully because I have done it multiple times. So naturally, when I wanted to help others create a better routine for themselves, the first thing that came in to mind was to create a “to-do list” app with a little twist that can help them connect with others. It would help users create a routine, track the routine and then receive support from others so they can stick to the routine.
I had it all written out, until … I realized one thing.
I was not excited to put it out there. I was not excited to gather a tribe of people to download it, or to see it and experience it. I was more excited in the process of creating the plan, the requirement, the look and even the mission statement for it.
This is when I realized that my fulfillment comes from creation, the creative process.
There is an art behind the creative process. Some say there is some flow that surges within you when you do deep work. You are able to just flow words into paragraphs, or strokes into a painting. In my case, I do found fulfillment in creating artwork and in writing. But I also found that my tendency is to make it complicated when the reward comes when it is simple and easy.
This is when I flipped the script. Instead of creating a smart app to help a user create better routines to help them feel better. I created the simplest thing that can help my consumers feel better. Almost instantly.
This is when I created my first Etsy store, Do Better Weekly.
In Do Better Weekly, I create digital art that consists of words to positively change the way you feel about yourself. My reward and fulfillment is not in the outcome, on whether it is purchased or shared, but my reward comes from my own creative process. I find joy in putting together words with different fonts and laying them out into a blank canvas. Fulfillment comes from the creation of the piece, not in the outcome of someone buying it.
The quality gate in Do Better Weekly is … me.
I am not a trained artist. But I have developed a practice to be aware of my self. To create authentic digital art pieces, I create these posters based on how it looks in my own eyes. That means, I try different fonts, put them in different spots in the canvas, mixing it with different elements of photos, icons or shapes until it looks and feels good to me.
I do this because the purpose of my creation is to help people feel better. Feeling is not something graphic design principles can pin down. The way something feels from the way it looks depends on the way the eyes decipher it. I see it through my own eyes, sense into how my body feels and then I share it with others to find those who experiences the same feeling as me.
My creation is an an outreach. Not a net.
I am not creating an art piece to capture one’s attention, like a net thrown to catch fish. My art pieces is an extending hand to others who may feel fear, guilt, sadness and shame within themselves. It extends its hands to reach out to you to help you feel better. When you read the words in my posters, I want you to feel better about your self. I want you to feel loved, to feel empowered and to gain courage to take the next step. And when you decide to print my poster, get it shipped or wear it on your chest, I want you to feel different.
There is a sense of consistency when someone tells you that they do something every day. I know because I used to tell that to people quite often. It gives me pride to be able to share that I do something every day. I used to post in instagram that I workout every day until I reach 300 days in a year. Even though inspiring, this concept of every damn day, projects perfectionism. And as Seth Godin writes in his new book.
“Perfectionism has nothing to do with being perfect.” — Seth Godin from “The Practice”
But perfectionism has everything to do with fear. Fear that something will go wrong or that you will receive a different outcome than desired.
Perfectionism is a mask, and a shield. So instead of daily, why not weekly. What if we just try to have a good week. The good week will include some great days, but also some not so great days. Maybe one or two days in a week we don’t feel good about ourselves but we try and strive to have less and less of that every week. And if one whole week you only had one thing you were grateful for, that is also ok. Even better, what if you could be ok with not being ok. What if you could include those not so good days as your days of the week. And every week we could just try to do better.