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Why You Should Ditch Your Side Hustle

Why You Should Ditch Your Side Hustle

For the past few years, the side hustle has been en vogue. It's the millennial career's Tamagotchi. An unnecessary, maybe not-all-that-productive use of time, but very trendy. Everyone who's anyone has one.

[Related: A Side Hustle Can Enhance Your Career]

Back in the day, the side hustle was simply referred to as a second job. It was taken on to make ends meet. But the legendary side hustle has taken on a life of its own. It's usually a "fun" side gig that is intended to supplement income from your main hustle (that is, your actual job). The premise is adorable and makes for awesome article titles and insta-posts, but there's another angle to side hustling that you should consider. Here are three reasons you might want to consider ditching your side hustle.

It's distracting.

With limited productivity hours in a day, you must be mindful of where you spend each. If you agree with that premise, then it is undeniable that the side hustle is therefore in direct competition with your main hustle for your time and energy. That could be fine if the purpose of the side hustle is to eventually replace the main hustle, but if not, you may be setting yourself back in your primary career by pursuing an extracurricular side gig.

It's short-sighted.

The most common reason to side hustle is to get some extra spending dough. Instead, try doubling down on your main squeeze, and my bet would be that you end up making back more than a couple extra bucks in the long run. Think about it like this – if you are spending an hour a day filling out online surveys, going on "secret missions," or babysitting to make an extra $100, that adds up to $5k per year. What if you invested all that time, energy, and creativity into your main gig – basically putting in an additional five hours a week going above and beyond? Done right, your hard work will get noticed and could turn out to be the difference for hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your career.

It can mask larger problems.

Your side hustle may be masking a larger problem with your career. By pouring your time and energy into it, you don't have the opportunity to take a hard look in the mirror and admit that you are not on the right track. This kind of reflection would allow you to game plan solutions. Instead, you continue going to your 9-5 and distract yourself from coming to terms with the fact that you need a big change. By packing your calendar with so much extra junk, your inevitable exhaustion leads you to falsely believe you are fulfilled.

[Related: From 9-5er to Entrepreneur: The 10 Lessons I've Learned Along the Way]

I fell victim to the allure of the side hustle early in my career. It was 2012, and side hustles were all shiny and new. I read an article about finding the perfect one for you and signed up for two "secret shopping" sites. At first, it felt freeing that the amount of effort I put in immediately materialized into small checks, but I quickly realized that finding the shops, signing up for them, memorizing the instructions, and filling out the paperwork was all a distraction from my actual job. I quit secret shopping, doubled-down on my corporate job, and within months had a promotion, bonus, and promising career prospects for the years ahead.

Not all side hustles are bad. If your side hustle is part of a long-term career strategy, an important move in the chess game of life, it may be worth stepping down your focus at the main gig. Maybe you are starting your own company on nights and weekends until you're ready to make it your main gig. Or perhaps you are involved in a charitable organization that's making your community or the world a better place. To be worth your precious time, your side hustle must be part of your long-term plan or at the core of your personal values.

Make sure your day-to-day actions are aligning with your bigger goals. The rest will fall into place.

[Related: Making Money and Meaning: Freelance Writer Nancy Monson Turns a Side Job Into a Six-Figure Career]


Jessica S. Desjardins is an Executive Director at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, where she is changing the way financial advisors interact with the firm and their clients through technology. Jessica is part of the leadership team for Ellevate New York, where she runs programming for Young Professionals, creating opportunities for young women to connect in authentic ways over relevant career topics and become a little braver in the process.

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