A lot of people want to write novels, exhibit their paintings in a gallery or play in a band. But the frustrating reality is that it’s very difficult to make a living on art alone. I have many creatively inclined friends who bemoan the fact that they’ve had to settle for a job that met the needs of the market rather than their own souls.
And yet, I sometimes feel that our culture has set up a forced dichotomy. Most people are perfectly capable of holding a job that pays the bills while pursuing a project that fulfills a personal creative need. In fact, each effort can end up enriching the other. One woman I met—who is both an entrepreneur and a painter and finds fulfillment in both areas—calls this lifestyle a “journey of duality.” You could think of these artistic pursuits as side hustles for the soul.
Chris Guillebeau, an entrepreneur and author of the books Born for This and The Happiness of Pursuit, thinks everyone should have a creative side hustle. In this day and age, there’s no need to strive for “occupational purity,” he told me in an interview.
Taking on a side hustle that is personally meaningful to you is a way to expand the way you think about yourself and the world around you. It’s a way to say: I’m not only an accountant; I’m also a cartoonist. I’m not just a software engineer; I also make furniture. I don’t just write jingles for commercials; I’m also the lead singer of a heavy metal band. These kinds of projects can inject a dose of creativity into the way you approach your day job—and just plain make you happier and more fun to be around.