Mid-Life Career Advice: Where There is a Side Gig, There is a Way.

There used to be a time when an ordinary middle-class family could afford a middle-class lifestyle on a single income, a role that was primarily fulfilled by the husband, who brought home the bacon on a fixed, monthly salary. This is clearly not the case anymore. Not only has a single income household given way to double incomes, but a myriad of studies have detailed the economic difficulties faced by the modern family in these turbulent times. In many households, it has become difficult to make ends meet, and where an emergency situation is one emergency too many, putting that household into debt. However, one trend that has emerged in the past couple years is the prevalence of side gigs or projects. Whether it was through furthering their expertise or interest in a field, or leveling up their skills for fun during their time off, there are increasing numbers of individuals who have started interesting side gigs that not only provide an additional income stream, but one that also complements their lifestyle with a sense of purpose and security.


The Crafty Rabbit
There is an ancient Chinese idiom that goes, “A crafty rabbit has three burrows.” Were the ancient Chinese talking about Bugs Buggy always one-upping Elmer Fudd? Not exactly, but according to the principle behind this idiom, they certainly would have been impressed with Bugs. Instead, the idiom originated during the Warring States period of ancient Chinese history, and credited to the retainer of a small vassal state, who stated, “a crafty rabbit has three burrows in order to avoid capture and death,” and subsequently orchestrated three strategic and consequential actions in order to secure his lord’s position and safety from the threats of surrounding states.
How would this idiom apply to people today? In essence, it is about the need to have a backup plan at all times. This is particularly true for folks in the prime of adulthood, barraged by stress in life and facing competition in the workplace. Certainly having a backup plan when things go awry is not just prudent but also necessary. In nearly every profession, there is the possibility of things going bust. Having said this much, although you may be unsatisfied with your current job, it is undeniable that it’s much better than having no job at all. It is during this mundane and stable time that we should explore potential side projects. The hurdles might seem insurmountable, but rest assured that as long as you are willing to invest the time, there are “burrows” that can be successfully prepped.
While there are numerous desk jobs out there, your hours earning behind that desk are limited. For starters, consider what your skills are and where your interests lie. Perhaps some of those skills could use some polishing as you consider your business options. Luckily we live in a technological age, where we can merge our skills with our interests in order to begin a new venture. Many a newborn business emerged from the minds of individuals who were sitting behind a desk.


Passive income stream
While most people work each day to generate an active income stream, a passive income stream is the goal we should strive to achieve. What is passive income? Simply, it is income that can be generated while you are sleeping. How does one create passive income though?


Side gig your way to a passive income
Whether you are in the US or on the other side of the world, making ends meet at the end of the day is a common struggle shared by nearly every person. In Taiwan, Mr. Lee (a pseudonym) and his girlfriend both work as public school teachers. Even with their respective stable income, like many public school teachers elsewhere, they struggle to save enough money for their wedding and for a downpayment on a house afterwards. 
Mr. Lee and his girlfriend are both talented teachers, and in a country where cram schools are the norm for school kids until entering college, they’ve been tempted to go the cram school route of earning extra income. However, regulatory laws, as well as their work schedules, made it impossible for them to realistically contemplate this option. 
Acting on the suggestion and inspiration of a friend, Mr. Lee realized he and his girlfriend could instead parlay their teaching talents towards creating teaching content and publish online. They started recording their own cram lessons, and after posting their lessons online for a year, gathered a dedicated following of students and fans. By monetizing their knowledge and talent for teaching, Mr. Lee and his girlfriend now have a steady stream of passive income generated by their online content. 


Where there is a side gig, there is a way
A wise person once said, “life is action, life is fighting, and life is advancement. Humankind has never been satisfied with fixed goals, because desires and the pursuit of those desires will never stop.”
Limiting your vision to what is only in front of you is the quickest way to becoming mired indefinitely in your current struggles. However, once you set yourself on the path towards having a side gig, you will find yourself thinking outside the box and bravely facing new options that could lead to living your best life. 
There is no doubt that breaking out of your mold will require patience, dedication, and discipline in utilizing every possible second of your available time in starting and perfecting your craft. All that dedication and sacrifice, despite setbacks and failures, will pay off in the end by opening other windows of opportunity to move your project forward. Remember that each brick you lay may seem overly laborious, but in the end, when you reach your goal, you will see a well-laid path before you. That path is no longer a daydream, but rather a solid ground upon which you can travel even farther. Stop giving second thoughts as to whether you should do something, but instead think on what project you would like to start and get going.

Join or start a community based on your interests. 


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