5 Strategies to Balance Work and Your Side Hustle

Sister, I see you. I see you getting up early to write a blog post, then staying up late pitching clients. I see you giving everything you’ve got to your full-time job, then beating yourself up for not doing enough in your own business.

Starting your own business while working your day job is a tricky place to be. You’re ready to make the leap to entrepreneur, but your bank account doesn’t quite agree yet. You may feel completely emotionally checked out at work, yet you still have to be there everyday. Fortunately, we’ve all been there.

Every successful entrepreneur you admire once had a day job, and no, she was not an overnight success. There is no such thing. We’ve all struggled with getting a new business off the ground on the weekends and in the wee hours of the night.

When I decided to make the transition from nurse to freelance writer, the long road ahead seemed insurmountable. I knew what I wanted, but had no idea how to get there. Every time I googled a business question I had, I would think of three new questions to figure out. However, once I changed my mindset, the transformation started to feel attainable and even fun.

If you’re in the beginning or middle phase of your business and feel like you’re losing your mind, fear not. Here are five simple changes that will get you to your goal a lot faster.

Flip your priorities

In order to make your business your full-time gig, you need to change how you think about it. I remember writing my business goals on New Year’s Eve a few years ago. I felt like I was spending every moment of free time on my writing side gig, but still wasn’t gaining real traction. I was tired and frustrated. When was this side gig going to take off?

And that’s when it hit me. I was treating my business as a little side gig, working on it whenever I had time. When someone asked me what I did for a living, I automatically said I was a nurse and then maybe rattled off a much too-long explanation about trying to become a writer.

If I treated writing as a struggling side gig, it would always remain a struggling side gig. I had to completely switch up my priorities. I had to treat my writing career as my first priority, or it was never going to support me. First, I simply began telling myself that I was a writer. I then acted as if writing was my full-time gig. I started pitching more and putting myself out there. When a stranger asked what I did, I started saying I was a freelance writer, but still worked as a nurse on the side. Feel the difference? Once I started taking my business seriously, it took off.

Stick to a schedule

Once I had the realization that I had to treat my business seriously, I saw the need for a non-negotiable schedule. I could no longer just work on this business when I had free time on the weekends. I sat down every Sunday and planned out my work for the week. I scheduled time for pitching, writing, marketing, and education.

One of my favorite online business experts, Marie Forleo, often asks, “How would you behave if you were the best in the world at what you did?” Ask yourself that question, then plan your schedule accordingly.

Stay engaged at work

This is the area where I struggled the most. I was working hard to become a writer partly because I loved writing, but also because I was feeling completely burnt out as a nurse. I was done and dreaded each day I had to make the drive to the hospital for a shift. I felt frustrated that my new business was taking too long.

When I returned to my nursing job after having our son, I knew something needed to give. Someday I would work from home as a writer, but that’s not today, and I needed a way to get through the workday without feeling stressed out and resentful.

The way I survived this time was by becoming totally re-engaged at work. Going to work and only thinking about my business and how long this was taking was not working, so I did the opposite. I tried even harder at work. I volunteered for committees. I spent free time at work researching the latest medical findings to improve my practice. I helped coworkers and made sure to ask about their lives.

Suddenly I didn’t feel so burnt out. By finding the positives at my day job, I was able to leave work feeling happy and energized. This gave me a lot more time and energy to spend on my business. I had been resisting the idea of engaging at work, worried that it might take time away from my business, but the opposite happened.

The more positive you can be at work, the more energy you’ll have for your own goals. What is one small change you could make at work today to make it more fun?

Set the date

I’m not going to lie. Engaging more at work helped most of the time, but there were still those days when I just did not want to do it. I was over it and tired. That’s where setting the date helped.

Even though I still didn’t know when I’d be able to leave my job, I set the date of my last day of work. I didn’t tell anyone about the date, not even my husband! But having this invisible finish line helped me move forward. Once I set the date, it felt real. I started thinking of tasks I needed to complete and people I should contact. I suddenly felt like I had a deadline, and I was not going to miss it.

To stay mindful of my goal, I wrote down my date everywhere! I wrote about it in my journal. I circled the day in my planner. I even changed my password at work to 121616 (my goal was December 16, 2016). It felt good to type that date over and over everyday. So when it came time to make the leap to full-time writer, I was ready. And yes, my last day of work was that fateful December 16th, but it wouldn’t have been had I not set the date and picked up the pace.

Get inspired

When you’re building a business on the side, suddenly any free time you once had is now consumed with reading business books and trying to figure out how to write code for your website. There is always more to do, so it’s hard to turn your brain off.

Remember that when you’re building a business, you are the business’ most valuable asset. Without you, there are no products, coaching packages, or courses. Sure we all know that practically, but take a look at how you’re treating your most valuable asset. Are you nurturing her spirit, allowing her to rest, and inspiring her on a daily basis? Or are you running her into the ground and still telling her she’s not doing enough?

I know, I’ve been there too. However, the more time I devote to my own development and happiness, the more successful I am in business. Allow yourself free time to go to yoga or listen to an uplifting podcast or just take a nap. Allow yourself to take a full day away from your business. Chances are once you allow yourself to relax a little, inspiration will start to flow. Don’t force it. You’re doing great.

You’ll get there

I know this in between time is hard, but you won’t be here forever. Use this time to take chances, make mistakes, and get clear on exactly what you want. Take little steps forward everyday. You’ve got this!

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