Is It Worth It?

sisyphusLast year I began following the “Impossible” blog of Joel Runyon. If you’re not familiar, his story is a great case study in personal branding and building a following online.

One of the items on his list of “impossible” things to do was get 6-pack abs. He posted before and after pictures and described his 8-week journey of workouts and strict dieting.

If you’re wondering, getting a 6-pack is probably 80% diet / 20% exercise. Odds are good you’ve got the stomach muscles there yourself, they’re just hiding under a layer of fat!

To accomplish his goal, Joel stuck to rigid paleo-approved diet — meaning no grains, starches, sugars or dairy.

It worked. And it would work for anyone.

But is it worth it? I asked.

For Joel, it was.

His brand is all about doing whatever it takes to get the job done. If you take a look at his “before” pictures, you’ll notice he already had a physique most people would be more than happy with.

But it wasn’t enough. The 6-pack challenge was about proving to himself and to his readers that it could be done.

The impossible became possible. It just took discipline.

And that discipline is where most of us break down, either on our diets or on our side hustles.

Just because something doesn’t come easily, doesn’t make it impossible. Remember: if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

Building a business forces you to make sacrifices. With a side hustle project, you’re faced with some difficult decisions about how to best spend your free time. At some point, you’ll be asking yourself if all the hard work is worth it.

I know I did.

It was 3 years of nights and weekends before I felt comfortable leaving my corporate job.

And I still ask myself if it’s worth it. All the time.

The moments of doubt are uncomfortable. Especially when the “moments” last for days, weeks, or even months. Is it worth it to continue down this path, with no customers in sight, with no guarantee of success, with just more hard work ahead?

What if I fail?

What if I’m just wasting my time?

There are no easy answers. For me, it always goes back to what am I working for.

You’ll have to ask yourself:

  • What am I really hoping to accomplish with this project?
  • What dent in the universe am I trying to make?
  • Why am I doing this?
  • What could I be doing instead?

If you reach a point where the benefits (potential future income, self-improvement, a stimulating challenge, etc) no longer outweigh the costs (time, energy, investment capital), maybe it’s time to throw in the towel.

For many of my projects, my hourly wage is embarrassingly low. Financially I would have been several times better off working a “real” job with that time. But emotionally and mentally I know I’m richer because I stuck it out.

And on the other side of the coin, there’s absolutely no shame in saying a side hustle isn’t worth it. Didn’t see that coming? The truth is it’s a deeply personal decision and it’s certainly not for everyone.

Before you start any new side hustle, be prepared to answer the “is it worth it?” question.

Because no one else can answer it for you.

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(photo credit)

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