The challenge itself is a side project. This website and previous versions of it as well as other web projects I’ve been involved, including the Community Business Club, were once, a side project. My coaching and training business started as a side project. Pretty much every new skills I developed over the last 3 to 4 years were a result of a – you guess – a side project. Every inspiring person I met… etc…
This was one of my first side projects – “the 30/30/30 Challenge“.
If you don’t have a side project, I believe you should seriously consider starting one. Why?
1. Because you may be feeling “stuck”
We all get stuck, trust me, I’ve been there! Many choose the wrong strategies to get unstuck, such as:
- spending countless hours in self-analysis (what should I do with my life? Who am I?),
- committing 2, 3, 4 or even 5 years of their lives by going back to University
- leaving full time jobs to start a business without experimenting with the idea of becoming an entrepreneur
- or even signing up for seminars that promise to “change your life in a weekend (or even in a day)”… argh!!
Embarking on a “journey into the unknown” is certainly fun and exciting, but doing it without testing assumptions can be an exercise that is both costly and heart-breaking.
Real change does not happen overnight. Insights do. One of the best ways to test insights into the real world before making a full shift is undertaking a micro-change project – a side project.
2. Because you haven’t been learning anything new and exciting lately
Stuck in the same job for years? Feel like your boss has been ‘cutting your wings’? Afraid your are loosing touch with the marketplace? Say no more! Start a side project.
You are not only going to be able to develop new skills, but you’ll experience an increase in motivation and self-esteem at work.
3. Because boredom kills your brain power
In a world of information abundance, boredom it is a design failure. Our brains go dormant when we feel bored.
Don’t get bored!
Boredom is a choice, don’t treat it like there are no better options.
4. Because you can exercise your creative capacity
Side projects involve working on something new, hence you get to exercise your creativity without being afraid of “getting it wrong”.
In contrary to what many people say, creativity is more powerful in adults than it is in kids. It’s also a skill, which means anyone can learn how to become more creative.
Since side projects are learning experiments, the pressure is off (or it’s less intense).
It also goes without saying that creativity and innovation have become critical competencies for surviving in today’s complex business environment.
5. Because you will have the freedom to explore interests and passions
If chosen wisely, your side project could allow you to explore things you actually enjoy.
You will find that its easier to emerge yourself into the process, hence allowing self-exploration and self-discovery.
You can even explore, which is something I highly recommend, ways to make money out of your interests and passions. I made over AU$6,000 in less than 3 months with my first batch of side projects. I also landed a business partnership without investing a penny (that one did not end well though, I got to be honest).
Side projects are an easy way to put your ideas to test and follow your gut.
It is also a lot easier to stay motivated when the topic at hand inspires, intrigues and energises you.
6. Because it is likely to induce flow states
When feeling bored or when staying for too long in our comfort zones, we deprive ourselves from experiencing one of the most extraordinary states of consciousness accessible to the human brain – the state of flow.
Flow states are activated when we are emerging ourselves into new and challenging experiences. To elicit “flow”, there must be the right challenge to skill ratio. When we get bored, the challenge at hand is too easy. When we get overwhelmed, the challenge is too difficult.
Choosing the right side project for you allows the correct challenge to skill ratio and a daily or weekly exposure to flow states.
The right side projects also requires clarity in outcomes (what you want to achieve) which is another flow inducing hack.
Being in flow is what separates ordinary from extra-ordinary performance (check the presentation below).
7. Because knowledge is cheap, but competence is scarce
Unless you have been hiding on a cave, you know there is something called “Internet”. 🙂
The internet is a massive learning ecosystem. Incredible things are happening online nowadays. It is a side project heaven!
You can learn virtually anything you want. There is a collection of learning blocks available to anyone with a computer and Internet access. “Like a set of Legos, they are fixed pieces that can be reassembled into anything you imagine”, says Anya Kamenetz on “Learning, freedom and the web”, and we can utilise them to manifest our dream self-educational experience.
Because of information abundance, you not only should, but you must direct your attention and focus towards a specific outcome. This is because we can easily jump from one thing to the next and spend years over-consuming information. This over-consumption contributes to the development of very ‘fat brains’, but very ‘incompetent bodies’.
Side projects are the best way for adults to learn critical skills to succeed in life, at work and in business. I’ll be exploring the psychology of adult learning in a later post.
8. Because side projects may be your best strategic move
You can use side project to advance in your career, start a business or grow an existing business. All you need to do is figure out:
1. where you are at
2. where you want to be
3. the skills you need to develop to go from 1 to 2.
Your project could help you acquire one or two critical skills at the time, what makes tackling bigger and juicer goals more achievable.
Just go eat that elephant!
9. Because you will improve your ability to learn by becoming a self-directed learner
Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is. Isaac Asimov
Side projects = self-education.
Learning is, by all means, the master of all skills.
If you master learning, you can virtually learn anything you are willing to put yourself through. Becoming a better learner helps in the developing of a growth mindset.
Benefits of developing a Growth Mindset?
Apart form the fact that learning via self-experimentation is a much more organic process. You are not learning because your teacher said so, you are doing it to solve a problem you have at hand.
10. Because you can make some extra cash
As mentioned above, I made AU$6000,00 in my first batch of side projects.
Focus on side projects that solve a problem for someone else. Just follow these steps:
1. Define the problem (s) you are solving
2. Frame it from a potential customer angle
3. Make an offer
4. Close the sale
You will find that with trial and error, this very simple process works. You will be amazed by seeing an income generation project come to life right before your eyes. If you do it correctly, you will get paid!
11. Because you can work on social improvement
Combined with a sense of purpose and a drive for social improvement, side projects may have a direct impact in your community.
The seed you plant may very much lead into solving social problems.
Find things that impact your community negatively and collaborate with others around you in bringing solutions to those problems. Nothing is more exciting than watching social improvement ideas come to life.
12. Because you can meet cool people with similar interests and be part of a stimulating community
There are tons, I mean tons of self-directed communities both online and offline working. Tons of people working on their side projects. I mean there are a lot of people out there for you to network with, learn from and become friends with.
Join a community. Start your own. Have fun.
13. Because you can find a path to achieve Personal Mastery
With a greater lever of self awareness, you may embark on a road to self-actualisation.
The more projects you undertake, the more you internalise the process of learning yourself.
You will soon become a lifelong learner and when that happens… there is no coming back. Everything becomes a learning experience.
Side projects slowly turn into a never ending cycle of self improvement and a search for self-mastery.
In my opinion, the ultimate way of living life it’s to institutionalise ‘side-projecting’ and turn it into ‘the ultimate project’.
The project of living live to evolve.
Are you with me?
Hope this post inspired you to start your project.
Feel free to email me or even give me a call if you want to know more about how I choose my side projects. I have a process that has been working well for me.
Be sure to come and say hello on twitter @thinkeduardo .
Ps.: If you are keen to stay updated on the “31 days to reviving a dead Blog” project as well as receive my weekly insights, insider’s “habit forming hacks”, as well as a copy of my “Revive your Blog Report” with detail information on how to bring a Blog back from the death (email to you after the 31 days are over), make sure you subscribe bellow.