Side projects

More From My Career was born from the belief that work doesn’t have to make you miserable.

It is possible to do work which is rewarding, stimulating, meaningful, or fulfilling, or even all of those things combined.

But it would be unrealistic to think that work should be a source of any of those things all the time, every single day. For those who are lucky enough to experience those kind of sentiments in their career, they’ll still have tough days or even long stretches of time which are really challenging. They’ll have days when they struggle to get out of bed in the morning, or have to cancel social plans because they need to work late, or spend the whole week dreading a meeting with an intimidating decision-maker, or have a project canned which they’ve been working really hard on over the last few months.

It would also be unrealistic to assume that work should be a key component of your happiness. After all, work is called work for a reason. There might be days when you’re happier in your career but it’s normal to have other days when you’re not so happy doing that job too, regardless of whether you’re working for someone else or making a living from your own business venture.  

Work is an incredibly important aspect of our lives and often forms a part of our identity. Importantly though, it doesn’t have to form our full identity. If we accept that work isn’t supposed to make us feel happy and fulfilled all the time, then we can consider other ways in which we can satisfy those needs.

Side projects are one great option to consider. Typically these are things which you do outside of your full-time role during any spare time you can give up: before you start the working day, in evenings, weekends or even lunch breaks. The one thing that we all have in common is the number of hours available to us each day: the way we differ is in how we use those hours.

What side project could you put your time towards, which will contribute to your overall happiness and sense of fulfilment? It doesn’t have to be an all-consuming activity that drains you of energy. Thinking small – if you want to fuel your creativity, how about a writing goal each week where you commit to putting 500 words on paper? Or if you’d like to expand your social network, attend one Meetup group each month. Thinking bigger, you could buy a domain name and start a website; master your baking talent and offer to make unique creations for your friends’ occasions; or start recording a podcast to dissect your area of interest.

Side projects provide the opportunity to have control over something you care about and are invested in. They can offer respite from your full-time job, help you gain skills in a new area, allow you the freedom to explore one of your curiosities, and connect with people you may not have otherwise come into contact with.

Where could your side project take you?