How To Find A Side Project That Fits You And Your Lifestyle

Sometimes what we need is a goal or creative outlet outside of our regular schedule or 9-to-5 that gives us a new zest for our days. It can really be a positive reinforcement in your life, too. It keeps your mind learning something new, it gives you a new sense of purpose and it also can help you appreciate your day job more because that income supports your ability to focus on a side project.

It doesn’t come easy though, side projects take time and can be hard to kickstart—and for some, deciding what their side project should even BE can be a challenge. Our contributor, Jenna Wohlwend, is here with tips on how to help you find the perfect side project.

The best way to find a side project is to think about you like. What makes you happy? Think about what you wish you were doing when you are bored, uncomfortable, too busy, etc. Do you love reading? Do you like to cook? Do you constantly rearrange your room? Do you binge-watch tv shows? Are you a cinephile? Do you love sports? Do you like to teach people? Does a fresh package of colored pencils make you happy? Are articles about the latest technology crowding your inbox? Do you listen to wellness and nutrition podcasts regularly? Are you a coffee enthusiast?

(I could go on forever, you know who to reach out to if you need a good brainstorm session!)

The point is, we all have something we feel passionate about, even if we don’t think we do. And nothing is too small or insignificant. If it makes you happy, it matters. 

Once you figure that out, set your goals. Ask yourself: do you want to make money doing this? Or is this just for fun? Is it a hobby or a potential career? Both are great! And sometimes one evolves into the other, but it’s key to make a decision at least for the beginning.

So once you find your subject and set your intention, it’s time to figure out how to integrate it into your life in a real way. Follow these steps:

What is your platform?

Do you want to blog? Do you want to teach? Do you want to learn? Do you want to create and sell something? Offer a service? Find how you want to put this passion, talent or interest in motion. Different passions require and/or fit better with different mediums. For instance, if you make jewelry, setting up an Etsy account is your fit. If you want to share recipes, maybe you create a YouTube cooking channel. Want to talk about all your favorite shows? Blog! Do you love Zumba? Find out how to teach! Want to interior design? Find clients! Want to try an instrument? Sign up for classes. You see where I’m going! Find your focus and your outlet to showcase your project on.

Start small

Don’t overwhelm yourself by setting your sights too high. Whatever your goal is, find a way to get really good at it. Whether it is learning WordPress, going out to take pictures for a half hour each day after work, buying a book on guitar—invest the time into one part of this larger side project. This will help you build a foundation and also give you a significant test run to see how you can fit this into your already-busy schedule—and if this side project is even the correct fit for you. 

It is also wise to start small because it allows you to not only build your skills, but to pause before you invest a lot of money into something that you may not want to stick with. Usually there are technology platforms, equipment or lesson fees that can impact your side project, and before you sign up, you want to feel 100 percent invested and this is the best way to start.

Find a Mentor

Find someone who has been there. They will teach you the tricks of the trade and guide you into an experienced path. It is always nice to bounce ideas off of someone, too. If you can’t find a mentor in the flesh, find someone you admire who is doing something similar and learn from their story. That being said, start thinking what is special and unique about what you want to do (how can you set yourself apart?). 

In addition, finding a mentor will help you network and connect to the community around your side project and no matter what it is, having that sense of community holds you to your commitment and adds another layer of meaning and fulfillment to the mix.

Practice

Even the best of the best didn’t wake up and find themselves on top. Being really good at something means WORKING for it. This is one of the trickiest parts when it comes to finding a side project that revolves around what you like to do because it is going to take time away from other things. Nothing worth having comes without sacrifice though!

Prioritize

A side project is still on the side, your job, relationships and rest time are all of equal importance, so finding your balance and how to prioritize best for you and your lifestyle and discover ways to fit that in. It might require some flexibility on your schedule, but having an honest conversation with yourself and expectations will really help you do this.

No matter what it is you choose to do, give yourself a pat on the back for trying. Who knows what this could turn into? But without making the effort to go for it, you’ll never know! It will be hard work to really commit to a side project, but if you love it enough, this will come easy. Just follow these steps on integrating them into your life and really focus on why you are doing it—because if it makes you happy, it deserves the chance!

Jenna Wohlwend is a content strategist at a tech company in San Francisco and runs her own lifestyle blog, Jenna Rose Colored Glasses. She has her B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and loves karaoke, reading, cooking and traveling with her husband.

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