Work has been my solace for most of the past decade. From being an employee to trying out a few entrepreneurial ventures, I’ve found myself with as much as 5 different jobs at certain times. As a scientist once proved though, every action has an equal or opposite reaction, and I’ve felt this from working so much.
Having multiple jobs at the same time started when I was in college. I was a student athlete with bills to pay, so I quit wrestling 3 years in to start working. It started with an unpaid internship, followed by being a bounce house attendant, and finally added working at a fast food restaurant. That was a very busy few years that taught me so much. As I struggled to finish my degree and start to build my financial and professional career, I got early glimpses of how I handle stress. In those early days, my outlet was getting to enjoy the time off with friends. As time went on though, work simply became part of my DNA, and I didn’t feel like myself if without multiple income streams. Not only did it allow me to begin building my career, but it also gave me a sense of freedom.
The foundation was set and as I graduated and found eventual 9-5s, I continued to find side hustles anytime I had downtime. Work more to make money to afford bills and live, was the motto. Year over year though, I’ve noticed there’s a price to pay for working so much and for me, that’s burning out. I’ve noticed my burn out comes from missing out on personal events, feeling overwhelmed and in some instances, not making enough money. There are many personal reasons people experience burn out, but there’s only two ways I’ve dealt with it.
The more ventures I do, I’m learning that quitting is subjective. One way I’ve dealt with burnout is to simply quit. A few summers ago, I took on a part time gig as a beer store stoker. I had some extra time after work and was thought it’d be a good idea to make some extra money. It was 3 hours in the afternoons and paid $10/hour. 2 weeks in, I realized it wasn’t a good fit so I quit. The money could have been better and it wasn’t a position that gave me the fulfillment I wanted at the time. Similarly, I ended a part time hospital stock room part time position 3 months in. This time, the distance was long from my 9-5 and I didn't quite fit into the culture. All of these reasons led to me getting burned out so I made decisions to benefit me. This is the beauty in side hustles, where being able to stop isn't an emotional decision, but rather a practical one.
My longest lasting side hustle has been working for an inflatables rental company. Working 20-40 hour summer weekends can get tough. Missing events and being physically drained has caused me to experience the most intense burnout of my life, but with this one, I don't stop. I just keep going. Near the end of each summer, I can feel my productivity slide and excitement of going into work go away. Year over year, pushing through and building that mental toughness over time has helped me take on extra projects at the 9-5 with ease and even be able to handle tough coworker interactions. Feeling completely broken down from work and pushing through has taught me how hard work breeds more hard work and that persevering allows for growth.
Working a lot comes with missing a lot. Lots of work without a proper outlet brings burnout. Sometimes, quitting and pivoting can lead to more productivity because taking the experience and leveraging that will have upside. Everytime I’ve quit a position, a better one comes along that makes me more excited. That leads to more money making opportunities and taking lessons learned into the next opportunity for more growth. Even though pushing through can bring more pain in the meantime, the upside is way higher at the end. Burning out will happen more times than not if ambition is there. Slowing down or taking it heads on are both great reactions to it and should be done with ease.