Your Side Hustle Identity – Who Are You After Hours?
Your side hustle identity is different from your work identity. In work, in your day-to-day job I mean, you are an Investor or an Analyst, an Accountant or a Teacher. Who are you after that?
You side hustle identity might be complicated. There is an argument to say we are who we think we are. Although when I think about it, the only other option is to be who someone else thinks you are. Sadly, both are viable options.
Let me explain.
We all have an internal narrative. The story we tell ourselves, about ourselves. It’s our identity. It’s what we tell ourselves we are. What we are good at, what we are bad at, what we have a natural talent for and we are totally rubbish at. We tell ourselves a story. Every meeting, interaction, article, presentation, conversation we instil that message to ourselves. If we have an internal dialogue that says we are bad at interacting with people, well every interaction will be evidence of that. Every fumble, confused sentence or awkward silence is yet more evidence that you are totally rubbish at talking to people. Equally, if you are someone that identifies as a ‘people person’, every conversation is evidence of that. Their laugh, their smile, their inquistive replies to your questions, all evidence for the case that you are, indeed, a ‘people person’.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.” ― Henry Ford
Identity is important
Knowing who we are is really the foundation of our decisions. Whether we buy that car or we go on an expensive holiday all comes down to how we think of ourselves. If we think we are someone that needs materialism, we do. If you are someone that needs a coffee in the morning, if you identify as a coffee drinker, you’ll be sure to grab a coffee first thing in the morning.
Who we think we are and who we tell ourselves we are is essentially the bedrock of our decisions.
I am a teacher, so I teach.
I am a writer, so I write.
I am a healthy person, so I eat healthy stuff.
Our identity drives our decisions and importantly our habits. James Clear talks about it in his book Atomic Habits. In the book he talks about how to change habits and one of the main ways to change habits is to think about who we identify as, at our core. Who do you think you are. He argues that if you are someone that considers themselves a healthy person, then naturally you would go to the gym. That’s what a healthy person does.
So if you want to embed some better habits, think about the story you are telling yourself.
Don’t let other people steal your identity
“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” ― Oscar Wilde, De Profundis
With that in mind, you can be whoever you want to be. Your limits are your own thoughts. Tony Robbins talks about the power of identity. He says that when someone comes to him and says they want to quit smoking but they’ve smoked all their life, they are a smoker. He knows they’ll be smoking again in a few weeks. Their identity is ruling their decisions. Instead he asks “when did you decide this was who you are?”
The truth is, our identity is built up of lots of opinions and thoughts. Some our own, we’d like to think mostly our own, although sometimes other people’s slip in. Your mum’s hopes and dreams. Your grandparents wishes. Your other halves ambitions and wants for a life. They all start to chip away.
Somewhere along the way, instead of identifying as a dreamer/ entrepreneur/ writer you settle for office worker. You settle for 9am –5pm. You settle for working for somebody else because it pays better than you could at least right now.
Although, that is yet another story we are telling ourselves. The reality is that we have to do things we don’t like. In a way, you working your 9–5 and telling yourself that you are a slave to the system is yet another story — perhaps not one told by you.
What if you told yourself that you are on the path to wherever you want to go and this 9–5 is just part of that journey?
Application to the side hustle identity
For clarity, we don’t all need side hustles. Whilst the work ethic of Gary Vee is admirable, it’s also part of his identity. It doesn’t have to be yours.
If you want it to be though, it can be. If you do want to create a life for yourself outside the 9–5, again, not everyone’s dream, then you can choose who to be 5–9. You can choose your side hustle identity. You can choose to be a writer. You can choose to be an athlete. You can chose to be a entrepreneur.
If you really want to, you can. By deciding you are someone, you will start to form those habits. Or it will be easier too. I’m not saying that if you decide today you are a marathon runner, that’s it off you go and run seven marathons this week. What I am saying is that when you think of yourself as something, you are more likely to create habits that line into that vision.
If you want to create something that sustains you in 5 years time, then do. Your side hustle identity needs to be solid. Identify as that person that is grafts 5–9 to create something bigger than your. Identify as someone who wants something different than you’ve got right now and someone who goes out and gets it.
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