I’ve heard from a lot of people that, while they agree that starting a side gig is a good idea, it’s just not the right time. Most of them seem to have very good reasons for not starting something right now. Some I’ve heard:
- I just lost my job, I need to find something full time!
- I’m suddenly stuck working at home with my kids, I have zero time for extra anything.
- I’m way too busy with my regular work.
- With everything going on in my life, I’m too depressed to focus on anything.
It would be rude to call any of these lame excuses, so instead let’s call them Reasons You Can’t Even, or RYCE. I’ve never made up an acronym before, that was fun.
First, I want to tell you that whatever your RYCE is, it’s valid. If you’ve said any of these things, then it’s clearly a reality you’re experiencing and no one should try to tell you otherwise. I certainly won’t.
I also want to tell you that if you’re feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of starting some big, new project that may or may not bring you any cash by Tuesday, that’s valid, too. Just the idea can be like a big, scary monster under your bed. And the monster is swinging a bottle of wine and muttering about a new Netflix Original. Starting something new feels risky, and not likely to bring you any cash by Tuesday, so Netflix and chill sounds like a much better idea.
And because I’m big on telling the truth, I’ll also tell you that you’re absolutely right. Starting something today is very likely not going to bring you cash by Tuesday. The get-rich-quick traps are way too easy to fall into on the internet. If you saw the one about uploading a 25-page Word Doc to the Kindle store and raking in the dough, yeah. I saw that, too. It’s not quite as easy as they make it sound – and the people teaching that have been doing it for several years.
Back to your RYCE. Whatever your particular RYCE may be, I’m not going to try and convince you it’s wrong. And no, in your current state of RYCE, you should definitely not start some big side gig project. Take a deep breath and let that shit go.
Instead, I want to talk to you about gardening.
Let’s pretend that Spring has sprung. The skies are blue, the air is sweet and tiny birds are coming to rest on your shoulder, singing you a happy little Wilson Phillips tune. Okay, AC/DC. Uhh… Bruno Mars? Whatever. And because it’s all pretty outside, you decide you want a garden to liven up your yard and your life. Yay, plants! The next day, there’s a gorgeously abundant garden thriving outside your home. The end.
Wait. Hold on. What… happened? You wanted a garden and the next day – poof! Garden.
If only gardening were that easy. It’s not, and you know that creating a thriving garden is a really big project. So many things to do. Pulling weeds, preparing the soil, buying seeds and trellises, pots, new gloves, fertilizer sprinkly stuff, little spady tool things. Then you need to read up on the best time to plant, how to plant, when to water, the list goes on. It’s a big list. This is gonna take weeks before you even see the tiniest bud shooting up through the dirt. Your abundant garden is not going to look abundant for months. So what do you do?
Well, you could say f**k it and just drink a beer on your rusty lawn chair, pretending you’re a botanist who cultivates weeds. Or, you could make a list of all the steps you would need to take to get your garden started and start at Step One. Step One could be something as simple as making a list of things to buy at the garden center. Step One might take 20 minutes. You finish step one and then what? You could drop the rest of your day and run off to the garden center and pick up all those things. Or, you could stop there and just feel good about getting started.
Step Two could be pulling those weeds (or, if you have kids, drinking beer in a rusty lawn chair while they pull the weeds). That’s another day. So, weeds pulled. Done. Pat yourself on the back.
You can see how handling one step at a time seems really doable, yes? Let’s consider another scenario.
You don’t make a list. You don’t do any steps at all. Winter comes and the snow starts falling on the weeds in your yard. How does it feel? You might beat yourself up because if you had taken some action, even small action back in the Spring, you would now have squash and potatoes sitting in little baskets in the basement. But you don’t. You have weeds and snow.
You can’t have a garden –poof– like that. You can’t start a side gig –poof– either.
Starting a side gig is exactly like creating a garden. You don’t do it all at once, you do it in little bits at a time. 20 minutes here, 10 minutes there. Over time you plant seeds, sprinkle water and if you keep maintaining it, eventually you have a side gig that earns you extra income.
Whatever your RYCE is, it’s telling you that you can’t create a whole side gig project in the amount of time you have each day. Listen to your RYCE, they’re right. You can’t. But you can take little steps and eventually get where you want to be. But you can’t if you don’t start at all.