How a hobby job might save your calling

By far the best thing I did in the past year and half was start my own business, which was a product of a hobby. And if I were honest I think having something else to work on has protected my calling to my first job. Most employers fear moonlighting and for good reason, one can forsake the responsibilities of their first job to chase opportunity in the second job. An employer could lose money on a wayward employee so most companies and organizations have moonlighting policies to guard against this type of situation.  A "hobby job" is different than moonlighting in my opinion. moonlighting

I know I'm treading on thin ice here, both definitions have the word "job" in them.  But here is the distinction between the two - A second job is something I show up to.  I'm committed to an employer to do work they have assigned me.  Whereas a hobby job is a hobby I have learned to monetize.  I have no formal work commitments nor a physical location I have to spend a certain amount of hours at doing the work.

So why did I start a "hobby job"?

After 11 years in the same role things can get stale. And the bigger issue was not the role but it’s how I’m wired. The Strength Finder 2.0 test identified my strengths in this order: Ideation, connectedness, maximizer, activator, and command. The landscape of non-profit work has drastically changed in the post financial crises era, at least in the midwest it has caused most non-profits to downsize. I started my career in an office of five people in 2000 and after 9/11 have spent over half the time working alone. Not necessarily an atmosphere of idea sharing nor a large amount of connecting with others, at least not working with peers. So for many years there has been a tension inside me that I could never seem to push away. It was this place that I longed for the opportunity to work on creative ideas and solutions while connecting with others.

Out of this place came a consulting business where I help others through creative solutions in communication and story telling. I get excited just typing that. Our relationship to work is similar to our relationships with people. Doing the same thing over and over again in routine can kill our interest in any relationship. But here are four ways I found out having a “work hobby” saved my calling:

  1. I was energized - Getting to work with more people brought energy to my every day. As a person who craved connection, starting new relationships and coaching new people energized me.
  2. It made me focus - Maybe this isn’t true for everyone but having something else helped me manage my time better. I was one of those student athletes who had better grades in season then out of season. Having a limited amount of time pushed me to be better with prioritizing and goal setting. I didn’t want to cheat my full time job because I believe strongly in what we do. I have become a better manager of my daily task list because I want a hard stop on the work day so I have space to be creative towards something else that renews my mind.
  3. Financial gain - Even a little revenue increase is better than nothing. And that has proven true in my case, in my first year of business I didn’t set any revenue records but I did make a little money. Most of the revenue has gone to furthering the business or purchasing tools that help me be more creative, which makes me happy.
  4. It’s kept me balanced - It’s so easy to burnout when you’re really passionate about what you do. In my professional role many burn out because they're passionate and there is a lot of autonomy in the job. For many in non-profit work the office doesn’t close and I know this is true for folks in the business sector as well. It is far to easy to work yourself out of your calling by never ending your work day. Even in my own head the equation doesn’t make much sense:

Full time job + hobby job = balanced work life.

But this has been my experience because at some point I have to turn my brain off on one and work on the other and vice versa.

What do you have that makes you push away from work? What do you have that is challenging you to sharpen your skills? We live in a different time and e-commerce is changing our economy and it’s also changing revenue opportunities for the individual. Can it be possible investing in a profitable hobby will make you better at your current job? I believe it can and it might breathe life into the calling you want to protect instead of hindering it.

What do you think?  Please leave your comments below!