Ever since Maslow released his idea on the hierarchy of needs in 1943, the conflict between needing to make a living and achieving self actualization has been discussed at length. Throughout human history, there hasn’t been much of a conflict — people just did whatever was necessary to feed their families. The advent of the internet, in conjunction with the spread of the idea of work-life balance, means that achieving self-actualization by working on passion projects while continuing to work a 9–5 is now more possible than ever before.
Even with this in mind, for most people, the sticking point is choosing to take the risk of investing their time into a project which may not pan out. The problem with this line of thinking is of course, just about everything worth doing involves taking a risk of some sort. And besides, it is important to remember that the time pressures that you may have at your job simply don’t exist with regards to starting side projects.
Another significant sticking point which affects quite a number of people is a lack of technical ability to execute the ideas they have for side projects. This particularly affects people who want to build software projects. In this day and age though, there are many ways to get around this issue. You could simply take the time to learn how to code at your own pace with one of the many free resources available online, such as Codeacademy and freeCodeCamp. If you are reading this guide, you are probably swamped with school and/or a tiring 9–5, and taking the extra time to learn to code might be a lot to ask for. If this is you, you could simply follow the tips covered in our guide on how to get an app built, which of course include working with a team of expert product managers, designers and developers. Either way, you would have to make some sort of investment to get what you want — and you shouldn’t want it any other way.
Perhaps at this point you are still not convinced that side projects are worth your time and effort and need some social proof to push you over the edge. What if I told you that some of your favorite software projects were side projects put together by busy (and non-technical) people? If you are a developer/designer/content marketer, you are probably familiar with Unsplash, which was started as a tumblr blog. You may also be familiar with ProductHunt, which began simply as an email list.
Now, your side project, just like most startups, is more likely than not to not be a huge success. However, whether or not to consider it a failure is entirely up to you. If you invest enough time and effort into it, you are bound to come out of the experience with an updated and sharpened set of skills, and probably a larger network, which should help you in your career and increase the probability that you will end up in a work situation which more closely fits your interests.