Why We Create: Why Should I Start a Side Project?
I’ve never considered myself a manual person. My dad tried to teach me how to fix and build things, but I wasn’t interested enough to spend time improving that skill. It didn’t feel natural.
Still, I consider myself an artist. No, I can’t build physical widgets, but I create everyday. I write, I design, I make music. I’m glad we live in a world in which creating immaterial things can pay the bills. Can you imagine having to be a Blacksmith in the 19th century?
Some people think calling themselves an “artist” sounds like bragging. To me, if you are someone who creates, you are an artist, even though not necessarily a good one. We all create. For some people it’s a weekend hobby, for others it’s an everyday thing.
So why do we create?
I personally HAVE to create, for good or bad reasons. Sometimes it’s for the world to see, sometimes it’s to satisfy a selfish need.
For you, it might be something that has been in your head for weeks. It hurts so much you have to put it on paper. Will you share it with everybody? You don’t have to, but getting it out will free some brain space so you can get other stuff done, like your day job.
You might be very happy with your day job, but it can be challenging to have enough freedom to do things your way, and fully explore your ideas.
This blog has been a great platform to get some of my freedom back. I have full control over the outcome so I can challenge myself and try new concepts. It gives me a sense of purpose, something we all aim for. This is why I started it as a side project.
There are a million reasons why we create, but let me give a glimpse of my logic using Dan Pink’s “puzzle of motivation” model.
I hope I can convince you about the importance of starting a side project for your own sake.
The feeling that you have control over your day, and that your actions are important.
Because some of us are part of complex organizations, it can be frustrating to depend on others. Sometimes, you feel like processes are slowing you down, making it hard to reap the benefits of your own work.
That is why you create and start side gigs: to prove to yourself you can produce something tangible with immediate feedback to get better.
The urge to get better, or develop skills.
If you don’t have autonomy in your day job, you most likely are spread too thin, spending your time on too many projects.
What you want to do instead is focus on the critical few to be the best on a specific skill or two. Again, the benefit of working on side projects is that it allows you to be in control of your time so you can spend hours getting better at ONE thing: something that truly matters to you.
Why should you spend hours working on something you truly care about? Because it gives you purpose. You might be working on something that not only will add value to your personal life and your family’s, but potentially the entire world. Purpose represents the need to do what we do for reasons bigger than ourselves.
That’s why Wikipedia has extended its web footprint. The content wasn’t created by paid professionals like the failed Microsoft Encarta. Volunteers spend their free time creating Wikipedia pages because of their extrinsic motivations. They’re doing this is for the greater good of the world by engaging with people around the world to collect and develop educational content.
Reading Stoic books like The Obstacle is the way and Ego is the enemy has helped gaining perspective into my life, but I can’t kill who I am when I’m at work.
Yes, you can’t control your surroundings so you should adapt to it the best way possible. But what if a little corner of your world was under your full control?
This is what this blog is for me. What’s your platform?
Thanks to technology, creating has never been easier, but how do you breakthrough the noise? There’s only one way: generate as much output as possible.
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