From the age of approximately zero, I loved to draw. It was an activity that would create a smooth series of stepping stones in my life to the present. Staying persistent with this hobby would make studying graphic design for my undergraduate experience, jumping into the freelance design/illustration world at a marketing agency in NYC, and later a career in advertising art direction, all practical moves. For this reason, I never want to lose touch with my favorite pastime turned vocation, and hope to encourage others to harness the passions that got them in the game—even if it isn’t what keeps the lights on—into what some people call a “side hustle.” For this article’s purposes, that will be defined as any extra-career activity that requires a bit of an investment. Below are a few of the reasons why I believe that staying involved in a diversity of hustles can be a necessary boost for many levels of a fulfilled life.
They keep your skills sharp
The cliche that practice makes perfect is one that I will shamelessly use here. It just makes sense that by thinking critically with different parts of your brain you will become more adept at solving problems that are broader than the expected ones clearly laid out in your professional path. Similarly, it’s a great way to stay learning in the world around you. To the above point, it never hurts to add to your perspective. Spending time with an activity that doesn’t resemble your normal workday can prove to be an intel-gathering operation of sorts for people working in creative industries. If your side passion involves collaborating with others, this is all the more beneficial to yourself, and your professional partners, as you are coming to the table a more experienced individual. Side hustles will encourage one to stay privy to news and trends in a separate arena, in the way they would to become a job candidate with relevant know-how.
There are evident benefits to mental health
Probably the most important of these would be the benefits to mental health. As much as we may love our jobs, everyone needs a breather. In the design practice we are often encouraged to leave designs alone for at least a few minutes and revisit them in a different frame of mind to fill in the gaps and creative blocks. The same philosophy applies here. Many people in the Millennial generation and younger feel pressure to commit to a career path as early as possible. This pressure can result in detrimental effects to productivity and overall happiness. By diversifying talents and passions, there are more chances to boost a sense of purpose, confidence in a given pursuit, and wholeness.
You never know when they might be useful
And now a fun anecdote! Before becoming a full-time art director here at Movement, I freelanced for a stretch. I guess you could say that was a time when everything I did was a “side hustle.” One day while tooling away at something in Photoshop, I heard a group discussion happening to my left, something about needing an animator. That got my ears up. My nosy ass then walked over and inquired, “Whatever might they need an animator for? I’ve been doing a bit of that myself!” So I shared my most recent side project, a very absurd cartoon called The Rat: Chapter I, which luckily got a nice reaction out of Jordan and the gang! Before this exchange, I don’t think it was known that I loved working with motion as well as the designed still image. Long story short: I work here now and it’s great! An environment full of people that get it. To have it going on, sometimes you need to also get your own things going on.
I can understand that for many who also lead busy lives, the idea of putting time and energy into a wholly separate project could appear daunting and exhausting, and it sure can be! An unsaid part of this is that it also can help to learn one’s personal limits as well. This article is only meant to make the case for what it can potentially add. It’s a nice experiment in expanding what you think you’re capable of, and hopefully adding to your continued learning and fulfillment in the process.
Further reading: https://themighty.com/2017/07/millennial-side-hustle-mental-health/