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    How a side-project can grow your confidence


    A few years ago, I worked with a client, Jess, who was keen to start a side-project making her own blends of herbal teas. At the time, Jess was in a demanding full-time role, leading three people and working long hours. Before she took on this new project, we spoke about how realistic it would be.

    We started by exploring why she was drawn to a creative outlet, particularly given her limited time capacity. Jess realised that her job wasn’t giving her the opportunity to engage her strengths of creativity and innovation and while there were day-to-day pressures in her role, she didn’t feel that she was being challenged.

    She was hoping that her passion project might act as a circuit breaker. Something that would shake things up and make her feel alive again. Jess wasn’t sure she wanted the herbal teas to evolve into a fully-fledged business, but she had reached a point where she wanted to do something different with her life.

    Like most of my clients who start a creative project that they’re genuinely passionate about, Jess was surprised by how easy it was to carve out time. She stopped watching television, set strong boundaries around social media and began using every hour of her day more thoughtfully.

    While she encountered some obstacles and frustrations, Jess discovered that the benefits far outweighed the costs.

    Embracing a new challenge will increase your confidence

    When you take on any new challenge and push through the difficult aspects, your confidence grows. While this may not be the case in the very early days – getting started is usually the hardest part – once you overcome your initial fears and some of the obstacles, you discover strengths you’ve not had the opportunity to fully engage before.

    Taking action in a new area signifies to your brain that you’re capable of growing your intelligence and reinforces your capacity for courage.

    You might make some additional income

    On Chris Guillebeau’s podcast Side-Hustle (and in his book of the same name), he shares stories about people from all walks of life, with hundreds of different ideas, who’ve made money from their passion projects. They’re all busy people who have found a way to embrace an interest in an entrepreneurial way.

    While your side-hustle might not make enough money for you to leave your day job, it may give you the means to take an extra holiday or add to your savings or even pay down some debt.

    Being creative is energising

    While immersing yourself in any new pursuit might initially feel overwhelming, once you push past the voice of your inner critic, it’s highly likely you’ll enjoy even the most fundamental aspects of being creative. As you start to challenge yourself and your brain begins to build new neural pathways, you may well discover that you think about many aspects of your life differently.

    In Jess’s case, an unexpected benefit of the herbal tea project was the opportunity to embrace her old love of photography. She enrolled in a photographic styling course and nothing gave her more pleasure than the few hours a week she dedicated to styling and taking photos for her website.

    You’ll build new relationships

    Maybe the one aspect that all of my entrepreneurial clients love most about going into business for themselves, is the people they meet on the journey. You’ll find people who share the same interest and others who are developing skills in building or growing a business.

    You’ll build relationships with like-minded service providers (graphic designers, web developers, writers, virtual assistants, finance people etc.) and your shared experience will give you a renewed sense of connection. And who knows where that might lead? Broadening your network is a great way to make new friends and to grow your business, but it’s also helpful if you decide to seek a new role.

    It may open up other opportunities

    As it turned out, Jess continued with her herbal tea business for a couple of years until she recognised she preferred doing styling. In a recent email, she let me know that she has closed down the teas and also left her old role. She has picked up work taking lifestyle photos and styling and hopes to eventually open her own styling school.

    It’s a big leap to move from the security of a full-time role straight into your own business, which makes a side-project a great way to test the water first. If you’re unsure about what you’d choose as your creative project, grab yourself a small notebook and read this brilliant post by James Altucher. Great ideas are all around you – you just need to shift into your creative mindset.

    Posted in: Business
    Kate James

    About the author

    Kate James is an author, coach and mindfulness teacher. She works with female leaders and business owners to help them clarify their values and strengths and discover a mindset that allows them to live confident, purposeful lives.