Literally millions of people have started small businesses during the pandemic. There was time to dream, conceptualize and create, which is nice but also let’s face it: Starting a business is extremely difficult for non-millionaires. It is simply impossible for all these new businesses to succeed financially. The world only needs so many vaginal candles.
At the time, I wondered if the inevitable loss of so many businesses would lead to widespread professional depression. What’s worse than taking a risk and failing? However, it turns out that I was wrong. I’ve talked to people who have tried and failed to follow their dreams and they surprisingly weren’t jaded. To be clear, however, even though the people I spoke with were personally and professionally diverse, they shared a certain level of privilege.
“Blogging has always been on my bucket list, and the pandemic has given me a great opportunity to work on that passion,” Harsh Goyal, a 25-year-old digital marketer in Delhi, tells me. He adopted a puppy during the pandemic, and the ups and downs of raising a dog inspired him to start a dog blog to help other new puppy parents. Sounds cute, right? He really is, but Goyal’s puppy love project soon began to hog all of his time.
“I considered my blog as my full-time job,” Goyal says. It would have been nice if the blog was paying the bills, but it wasn’t, so he had to pull the plug. It sounds like an overall disappointment, but Goyal tells me the lessons he’s learned from his dog blog have boosted his professional skills. “I now feel more comfortable understanding customer pain points and needs,” says Goyal. “Everything that has happened in the last two years feels like a roller coaster ride which I have enjoyed a lot.”
Goyal’s inspiring perspective shows what psychologists call “psychological flexibility.” “Psychological flexibility is often the solution to many problems,” says New Jersey-based psychotherapist Alexandra Miller Clark. Clark defines the trait as “being flexible and open to a new plan and seeing it as an adventure”. I mean, yeah, that’s how we all want to approach life, isn’t it? But how?
“Psychological flexibility is often the solution to many problems.”
Well, Clark explains, you become psychologically flexible by doing some of the things Goyal did when his plans didn’t go his way – namely, asking yourself what went right in your life experience, even if that didn’t quite work. turn. Clark recommends practicing this in times of stress by asking yourself some important questions: “Did I enjoy the process, regardless of the outcome? Have I grown in skills and socially and emotionally, or have I increased my relational relationships through this parallel work? She suggests.
More often than not, the people I spoke to for this piece seemed genuinely zen about their failed hustles. Daniella Flores, a 32-year-old software engineer from Missouri, started a goth wedding-themed business during the pandemic. “I tried dropshipping in the gothic wedding niche selling T-shirts and accessories with gothic wedding sayings and artwork – intended for bachelorette parties and weddings – early in the year. pandemic,” they tell me.
It’s the kind of business idea that seems so specific and well thought out that I can’t imagine it failing. Unfortunately, he did. “I was able to send out a few group orders, but that quickly dropped because people weren’t planning weddings,” Flores tells me. “I gave it a few months and closed the online store due to low demand and my heart wasn’t really in it.” Flores tells me it was a relief to close the shop. “I wanted to take that energy and direct it into my freelance writing, creating my own blog and brand, and other creative projects that I love to do that aren’t monetized.”
Not only is Flores not in tune with the public’s failure to buy into their obviously brilliant idea, but they continue to butt heads. Their job as a software engineer is remote, which leaves them plenty of time to devote to their blog which is – wait for it – a guide to getting by on the sidelines. Flores has been running this blog since earlier times, so they may be in a unique position to understand the trial-and-error process of Passion Projects.
Flores doesn’t call the streak side hustle a hustle. Instead, they call it dabbling. “Dabbling brings excitement into experimentation and gives your energy the freedom to create amazing things,” they wrote on their blog. Dabbling, they say, is both a creative pursuit and a way to increase wealth. But, as they pointed out in our conversation, not everything needs to be – or should be, or can be – monetized.
Herbert Lui, a 30-year-old writer and editorial director in Tampa, wrote a book during the pandemic. Lui published his self-help book for creatives independently, turned it into an online course, and began coaching creatives on how to take their projects from start to finish. Unfortunately, he didn’t make as much money as needed. “I had no more savings,” Lui told me. So he went back to technology.
But not only does Lui tell me he doesn’t regret the book-writing experience, but he’s also not sorry to have to go back to more traditional work. “My habit of writing is alive and well and I was able to balance it with a full-time job. I also had a moment of clarity – I thought being successful as an author meant doing it full-time, or at least without a full-time job, and I was totally wrong,” he says, explaining to her that having a day job has eased her creative process and allowed her to follow her interests.
It is important to note that not everyone has the luxury of a steady job that takes the pressure off their creative pursuits. Yes, everyone should be able to enjoy their imagination, but many people cannot do so with the security of knowing that their bills will be paid. That doesn’t negate the importance of creative hobbies, but it’s a little harder to invest (both financially and emotionally) in a project when you don’t know how you’re going to pay the rent.
Doing things you love, whether or not they make money, is something Clark emphasizes as well. “I don’t believe people should necessarily give up creative outlets that are evening and out of hours hobbies,” Clark tells me. “There’s less pressure on the creator if they know they’re not depending on it for the money.” Amen. Trust me, I know how tempting it is to try and make what you love doing a job, but if you love doing something, take inspiration from these entrepreneurs and do it whether it pays off or not. . In reality, you may not have the kind of freedom from financial worries that could allow you to be your most creative self, but perhaps the joy you reap will contribute to your emotional freedom in immeasurable ways.