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Why a side hustle?

The article that inspired my last entry referred to so-called “thought leaders”; calling on people to develop a “side hustle”. Even before coming to Jonathan Rivett’s article, I’d seen the question What’s your side hustle? in the article adjacent to it, and wondered what sort of madness leads to asking someone who already has a nine-to-five job (as an executive producer and journalist, though I don’t know if the subject of the article worked full-time at these) what additional work they’re doing or would like to be doing?

As I noted in my previous entry, I already have a couple of projects that might be referred to as “side hustles” by people who use such terminology. But I myself think of them as experiments that I’m carrying out alongside a part-time job, to some extent as hobbies, and not as something that requires any actual hustling to obtain extra income after working my ordinary job. So maybe I’m just objecting to the terminology; perhaps I would have preferred something more like What other things do you do, given that I already know what you do nine to five? (which is, admittedly, less snappy).

Clearly I’m all for having something in one’s life apart from a nine-to-five job, and, for that matter, having more one than line of work within that job (or combination of part-time jobs). Yet I’m leery of expecting someone who already has a full-time job to be developing a side hustle involving more (paid) work, as seems to be the thinking of Rivett’s thought leaders. For a start, how did we come to have people working full-time yet not making enough money? And when is one supposed to get around to doing the things that don’t earn money?

I take it that the subject of this particular article enjoys her side hustle (acting as a marriage celebrant), which might be fair enough, especially if the production and journalism work is only part-time. Maybe having an extra line of work offers some protection against the main line of work drying up, or prepares one for a change of career down the track. And the article might have been at a dead end if the subject had simply said “I don’t have one” or maybe even “I look after my kids” when asked to explain the side hustle.

Perhaps the real crime is the implication that we identify as nine-to-five workers in the first place. If someone is a journalist and marriage celebrant, or an engineer and writer, so be it; why suppose that one of them defines the person while the other is just a little extra colour?

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