Side Hustles and Lower Standards of Living

When Miguel and I first started hanging out with Nathan, I had an idea. We should get together 40 hours a week and figure out how to make money during that time. I sometimes need time to figure out what I’m saying, which is probably why sometimes people don’t understand what I’m saying. I start brainstorming out loud, and people want me to actually back up my idea. You know, as if I have to actually know what I’m talking about.

“How are we going to make money?”

“Well, we get together for 40 hours a week and figure it out.”

“Figure out what exactly?”

“Um, how to make money.”

This was 1999. I’m not sure if the term “side hustle” was being used as part of the colloquial vernacular already, but I wish that I knew the term then. More importantly, I wish that Miguel and Nathan knew it.

It’s like it’s a fad now. Put away the pet rock, the Rubik’s Cube, and the Tamigotchi. It’s the side hustle! Because you don’t work enough already. The Japanese look at your work ethic, and if they had time in between outworking you, they would laugh with derision. Get yourself a side hustle today!

I didn’t want a side hustle. I wanted us to start a business. I wanted to bring in money mowing lawns, fixing computers, or whatever else we came up with to bring in money. At the time we were only getting together a few hours a week to work on the show anyway, so we could have devoted 30 hours to our business, 10 hours to the show, and then Miguel and I could spend the rest of our time with our families, and Nathan could play pinball. Nathan didn’t have a family at the time. My idea was that as we grew the show, as we grew the website, and as we started to monetize our creative work, we would spend less time on grunt work and more time being creative.

Even now as I lay that out, I’m not sure why that wasn’t an attractive idea compared to working a 40 hour a week dead end job, getting into fights with our spouses and/or pinball machines about using our after work time to half-ass pursue our dreams, and ultimately having very little creative output.

I think that what I was onto (or on about, depending on who you ask) was that successful people spend much of their free time getting to the point that they can make whatever they’re doing their job. When this happens, they spend the majority of their time on the work they pursued to begin with, and their free time is spent relaxing.

What I was saying to Nathan and Miguel back then was let’s bypass the part where we have to pursue our creativity in our free time, because free time isn’t work time. Free time is the thing that gets filled up with taking your daughter to Girl Scout meetings and/or Disney World.

I was recently listening to Gary Vaynerchuk and he was saying that people should use the seven hours after work to work on their side hustle rather than watching TV or other time killing activities. He pointed out that seven hours a night, leaving your weekends open for family time, and you’re working 35 hours a week to build your business. He figures that any business that has what it takes to succeed will succeed after a few years of working it like a full time job. I realized that he was saying more eloquently what I’d been trying to say back in 1999, except that I was talking about jumping full on into the fray.

It’s 20 years later, if I’m doing my math right, and if I get this blog posted sometime in 2019. Nathan, Miguel, and I will likely never work together in the way I’d envisioned. I don’t know what the future holds. I think it involves Nathan and me more than it does Miguel, but we’ll see.

I will say this though. I’ve reduced my standard of living so low that I’m almost at a place where I can spend more time on creativity than I spend delivering food to people. I think that being willing to sacrifice to get where you’re going is a big part of the whole experience. Some people will never be able to sacrifice that deep.

The thing is that I’ve had a good life, so far, and I’ve never really been a pursuer of things. My focus has usually been on tools for my creative work. I pursue entertainment as well, but entertainment doesn’t have to be expensive. Time is so much more important to me than money. The only reason I want money is to streamline my time, so that I can pursue my creative work efficiently.

Spend more time in your life on the things you want to do. I don’t care what it is as long as you’re not harming yourself or others. If you have to start small to find an extra 20 minutes out of your week and build up to an extra 20 hours a week, then that’s fine. But get there. What are you doing on a consistent basis that you wouldn’t miss if you stopped doing it? What expense could you remove from your life that you wouldn’t miss? The less time you have to spend at work to keep up with a lifestyle, the more time you can do what you want to do.

Chris McGinty was a blogger in 2019, and luckily is still a blogger now.

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