How to Juggle a Full-time Job, Side Hustle, and Personal Life

Im reaching for the whisky bottle Johnnie Walker Red Label on my nightstand. It’s always on my nightstand. My mind won’t stop racing, and I can’t fall asleep.

I know that if I drink, it usually helps calm my nerves. Earlier this same evening I had a call with my parents, and they asked me how my life was going. My response was, “I really don’t want to talk about me… It’s just too much.”

This was at the height of my career, and the business that I cofounded was doing well. In fact, all numbers were aiming for the stars except my health, wellbeing, and personal relationships, which had all been sacrificed for my work.

One of the biggest mistakes, at this time, was my mindset that time and speed were essential to success. I felt a need to reach my goals faster, and by doing so, I was associating happiness based on how quickly I achieved those milestones.

However, life is long and meant to be enjoyed. You can’t put your health, relationships, and friendships on hold until you’re at a point in your career where you’re satisfied. Slow down. Set goals, yes – but, give yourself time to achieve those while also balancing your personal life.

You may actually find that you’re happier hitting personal milestones than you ever were with business goals. No matter how good your numbers are or how profitable your business is, if you can’t speak to your parents or sleep without drinking, you’re failing.

I’m always approached by new entrepreneurs who are working a side hustle and a full-time job. This is actually a great way to get started with your business idea, but it can definitely be exhausting and time-consuming.

While there’s nothing wrong with working and hustling, you have to approach it correctly. So, if you’re someone looking for a way to balance work, a side hustle, and your personal life, here are a few considerations to keep in mind.

1. Adopt a Flexible State of Mind

Often, I see people trying to get their side hustle to turn into their full-time job, which is great! But they want instant gratification.

When I launched Great.com to compete in the iGaming space, I had to balance my 50-year vision with my short-term goals. I know where I want the organization to go, but I have to realize that it will not get there overnight.

Many entrepreneurs set definitive – often unrealistic – goals with their side hustle. They want to move away from their full-time job to their side hustle in 6-months or a year, even though it could take 3, 5, or 10 years to really be in a secure position to make that transition.

When you rush your goals and set short-term milestones, you tend to put more pressure on yourself or make poor decisions. You may even end up giving up on your dream because you feel like you failed by not hitting that goal.

Instead of setting a 12-month goal of moving to your side hustle full-time set a flexible goal to simply commit to work on your side hustle this year.

The objective of these two goals are the same, but one is more definitive than the other and can have a clear success or fail.

Is your side hustle your full-time job after a year? No, well – the first goal was a failure and you may be less excited to continue it. But, if you at least worked on it, you’ll feel more accomplished.

Compare this mindset to your personal relationships. Do your friends get suddenly more valuable after you hit yearly marks? No, their value is tied to your commitment to them and the enjoyment you feel by spending time together.

If you’re setting too many goals based on timelines or definitive measurements, you’re likely to see the enjoyment go down from activities that can help you achieve that goal which is counter-intuitive. Instead, be flexible and take your time.

If you’re like me, you’ll find more passion and enjoyment when you’re flexible. There’s no need to rush to some end goal – find joy in the process and be satisfied with progress, even if it’s not as quick as you’d hope.

2. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others 

Comparison is a part of human nature. We immediately take notice of what society looks highly upon and aim to put out results that meet or exceed those societal expectations. When we see others that we find similarities to ourselves in, it is by nature to compare yourself and your success to theirs.

Whether it is someone the same age as you or in the same industry as you, I know it can be difficult to look at other people and immediately want to compare, but we need to rid ourselves of this notion. 

Don’t look at other successful 30-year-olds and think you have to be at the exact stage in your life and career the minute you turn 30. When you compare yourself to others, you create a barrier in which your success or failure is derived from another person, rather than yourself. When you focus on building joy and progress every day, your success can only be defined by you. 

3. Get Rid of Your Goals

Yes, I really said to get rid of your goals – but, I don’t mean give up on accomplishing your dreams. Think about it this way; if you ask people who the most successful person in the world is, chances are, everyone would be able to provide a pretty decent answer.

Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Oprah maybe? After all, these are some of the richest people in the world.

We often measure success with money and while you can easily list off some of the richest people could you do the same if we asked you to name the happiest person in the world?

The richest people in the world probably accomplished all or most of their goals, but are the happiest? Probably not, because few people make happiness a goal.

What I really mean when I say give up on your goals, is to shift your thinking from a “goal” perspective, to a “joy” perspective. Try to measure things by joy instead of monetary or status.

If you say you want to make a lot of money, you don’t really mean you want a lot of money. You may mean you want to feel accomplished, successful, and happy. Are there other things that you could do that would bring you the same feeling? Think in those terms. Remember, happiness doesn’t have goals. Relationships don’t have goals. Focus less on goals, and more on joy. 

4. Make Sacred Time for Yourself

On Thursday morning, my fiancé and I were holding on to this huge, orange plastic bag. It was so heavy that we could barely lift it. On the count of three, we gathered all of our strength and hoisted it up to the large container before us.

Out from the bag came pouring mud, weeds, leaves, and sticks. This was the romantic highlight of our week. It’s Thursday morning which means my fiancé, Joanna, and I have a scheduled “date night” in our calendars. This time is sacred to us, even when we’re simply working together to clean, recycle, or just spend uninterrupted time together. 

Personally, the way I solve for interruptions to my personal life from work is to ensure that my sacred time is left sacred but remember, you can’t overbook your off-limit time. For me, the only time in my calendar that is sacred is Thursday mornings until noon, which is blocked specifically for my fiancé and I to spend time together.

Consider doing this with your partner, family, or friends. Put your phones in airplane mode, and just spend time together. Go recycle. Go on a hike. Have a picnic. Set time to spend with your family or loved ones, and measure that in the same way you would measure your work time. Have calendar time for relationships. 

Entrepreneurs are unique creators. We like to challenge status quo and push the limits of our ideas, our peers, and our selves. When you’re grinding away at your side hustle while also working another job, time can fly. You can feel like you don’t even have enough hours in the day to work on your jobs, let alone work out, cook dinner, or spend time with your family, friends, or loved ones.

This is the mindset of hundreds of thousands of people across the world – and it has to change. Finding a way to balance your professional success with your personal happiness is the only way you’ll truly be satisfied.

It took me burning out and stepping away from the company I created to find myself and my health again – but now, I have a completely new perspective and a joy for life that bleeds into the projects I choose to work on.

About the Author:

Erik Bergman cofounded Catena Media and helped grow it to over 300 employees and a $200 million valuation before stepping away to start Great.com, an iGaming organization that donates 100% of its profits to environmental charities. Erik inspires change and positivity through his work, social channels (@SmilingErik), and his podcast Becoming Great.

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