3 Reasons to Start a Side Project Today

It was the ninth day of my hiking journey through the Swiss Alps, and the fog was so thick I could barely make out my feet. The sun had yet to reveal itself, and I was struggling to follow an old Shepard’s trail that was losing a slow battle with nature each day. I had been walking for nearly two hours when suddenly I realized the trail had disappeared, possibly miles ago. An eerie silence began to surround me me and it was at this moment that I saw him. A frail old man meditating on a large boulder, his wrinkles so deep that he appeared older than father time himself. He clearly sensed my presence as he slowly looked up, opened his eyes, and whispered, “Start a side-project.”

Ok, that story may or may not be true, but the advice is equally as powerful. What’s a side project you ask? A side-project is any kind of venture or project that you undertake that’s independent of the job you work to support yourself. There are three main reasons why you should start one today.

1) It’s OK to fail

The beauty of a side-project lies in the fact that if you fail, you’ll still be able to put new shoes on little Timmy’s feet when Christmas rolls around (you’re welcome Timmy). Starting a new venture can be scary, but if you’re able to do it without jeopardizing your means to support yourself, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

2) You can follow your passion

Let’s face it, not everyone loves his or her day job. Is it because of a uninspiring work environment? Annoying coworkers? A horrible boss? Sometimes this is the case, but not always. Often times it’s because employees are haunted by what-ifs. What if I had pursued that opportunity out of college? What if I had created that product that I thought of years ago, but just spotted on TechCrunch this morning?

A side-project is your chance at redemption. Most people are held down by imaginary chains that prevent them from pursuing the things that they are most passionate about. When you begin a side-project, those chains are lifted with the realization that you can pursue whatever you want, no matter how big or small.

3) You’ll improve yourself

When a friend and I started our first side-project (an app called JumpIn!), I had no idea about the skills that I would add to my repertoire as a result. It’s difficult to predict the skills that you’ll need to complete a project and you’ll most likely have to pick up new ones as you go. In hindsight, the skills that I picked up during the time working on my first side project would have been unattainable by following my career path at my nine-to-five.

My challenge to you

In summary I leave you with this challenge: find something you’ve always wanted to try and do it as a side-project. You’ll have a blast, pick-up lots of great skills along the way, and hey, if you fail, it won’t be the end of the world. It will simply make the next project that much easier.