Close your eyes and envision what you love to do. This could be singing, painting, or volunteering (the list is endless!). Then imagine that you could do this every day in some capacity. Slowly open your eyes and notice how you’re feeling.
What you just experienced was authentic insight into what makes you come alive. Think of it as your side hustle. It is what tugs at your heart when you have free time and what you dream about when you don’t.
When people talk about a side hustle, they often see it as a way to make some extra cash. Yes, it can be. But there are non-monetary benefits that are valuable in different ways. Research suggests that finding purpose and meaning in your life provides a wealth of physical and psychological benefits. Whether you are spending time on a hobby, starting a passion project or business, you’re giving yourself the chance to be creative, to explore and indulge in what makes you, you.
There are many ways to discover what works for you. And, you can exercise your passion without quitting your full-time job. In fact, experts suggest that finding a hobby outside of work could improve your performance at work, boost your creativity, and decrease stress. Psychologists also found that spending time doing things for pure enjoyment lowered blood pressure and cortisol levels while also helping with weight control. The best part? These benefits are sustainable and long-lasting if you make your passion a regular part of your life.
“The key to a deeper, healthier life,” says Dhruv Khullar, M.D., in the New York Times, “isn’t knowing the meaning of life — it’s building meaning into your life.” Dr. Khullar emphasizes that this is not a luxury but a necessity. He points to studies indicating that those who seek out meaningful experiences live healthier lives—they prioritize their health, get better sleep, and have a lower risk of heart attacks and dementia.
Dr. Khullar, a physician at NewYork Presbyterian Hospital, adds that a sense of purpose and deeper meaning in our lives are connected to what researchers call “eudaimonic well-being” — a sense of well-being that comes when people do things that align with their true desires.
Jaclyn Johnson’s dream is to help others to realize theirs. Johnson — CEO and Founder of Create & Cultivate, and Author of WorkParty— encourages young women to boldly pursue their passions without compromise. Her best advice for those starting out? “This one is simple: If it’s all you can think about, it’s time to give it a go.” In her book, Johnson shares how she turned her passion into her career and how you can do the same.
Take Shanna Tyler, for example, a contributing writer at mindbodygreen. She began teaching yoga on the side, which helped her to invest in herself and live authentically. Gradually integrating her part-time gig into her life inspired her to take a leap of faith and commit herself to teaching yoga full-time. Since then, Tyler has grown her business — she’s now also a lifestyle blogger, brand ambassador, and host of the Self Soul Sport Podcast.
It’s easy to get intimidated by the success stories. It can be daunting to think about actually dedicating time to something other than your day job. Self-limiting beliefs about ourselves creep up, and we question whether we deserve our dreams. Life coach, Susie Moore, believes that making the decision to start a side hustle boils down to you “choosing yourself.” How does she help clients get to this point? By asking them to write a letter from their 80-year-old self as if their life was everything they wanted it to be.
You can find inspiration from Pulitzer Prize winning poet Mary Oliver, now age 83, who once wrote, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”