How side hustling can hold you back at your real job

Alissa Quart points out that “people take on second or third side hustles because of wage stagnation or low pay at their full-time jobs.”

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“7 Side Hustles You Can Actually Start in 2019.” “8 Side Hustles You Can Start This Weekend.” Why haven’t you started that sweet side hustle yesterday so you’d have all that cash today? Only talk to any Uber or Lyft driver or Postmates delivery person: it’s never as much cash as it seems like it’s going to be.

People take side hustles for a few reasons, but the main one is serious: they can’t get either enough hours or enough money at their main job.


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In the New York Times Opinion section, Alissa Quart points out that “people take on second or third side hustles because of wage stagnation or low pay at their full-time jobs.” In other words, they very much need to side hustle, once called “taking a second part-time job.”

According to a NPR/Marist survey from last year, cited by Quart, “30% of Americans do something else for pay in addition to their full-time jobs.”

In this case, the situation is dire economically. Side hustle if you have to, by all means.

But don’t just side hustle because you want to

Side hustling has become hip, almost the norm amongst the younger demographic,  where people side hustle for extra spending money, the chance to pay down debt or to save up for a big-ticket item. That’s where the side hustle can also be an insidious squeeze on your time, energy, and what you actually want to do.

When you’re side hustling, you’re taking your focus away from your main hustle, which should be the thing you’re concentrating on, usually your job. Even if you don’t make enough money now, you should be putting your resources and brainpower into turning out a better work product, leveraging your position within your company, networking outside it, and doing things that will enable you to ask for a raise when the time is right.

You might not be getting paid enough right now. But work through the pain as you work on improving your career – instead of running around doing odd jobs when you could be getting ahead.

Put your resources – you – into your main thing can be your “thing.” Having extra money is nice, but the side hustle can become a distraction.  What would you rather be – an ace at marketing or a really good food-delivery person? Weigh your options carefully, and look at the long term. Sometimes it’s better to try to improve things where you stand, rather than have two things going on at once.


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Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.