Why My Broke Side Hustle is Better Than Your Main Hustle

Financial Planning for Doctors

For anyone who has a side hustle just starting up, certainly this idea has crossed your mind before. You know. The idea where you realize that the side hustles aren’t earning a lot of money.  Then you think… if you’d just focus more on your main hustle, then you’d likely make more money picking up extra shifts, cases, or seeing more patients.  Why not just focus there?  Well, because its not all about the benjamins, is it?

Today’s post will focus on the fact that value can be obtained from work in a variety of ways.  Not just money.  These reasons are what push those of us who pursue side hustles to keep on hustlin’.  Even when they don’t make money.

Let’s Dig In.

The biggest reason: Satisfaction at work

We have talked extensively before about satisfaction at work.  [I even wrote a marquee guest post that ties in satisfaction at work, physician burnout, and how financial independence can save us from it].

The three keys to satisfaction at work are autonomy (being able to decide how to do your own job), relatedness (i.e. support at work), and competence.  They are somewhat interrelated, but help show a value system by which we can gauge our satisfaction with each job.

It also helps to explain another phenomenon that I have observed, which is that people want to be valued in one of three ways: getting paid more, having more time to do what they enjoy, or getting recognized for their work.

Combining these two views of satisfaction and value, we can see that there are a variety of reasons that people might want to pursue a side hustle.  And only one of the six items has to do with getting paid more.

So, why spend more time on something that will not provide more money?  Let’s look at three keys to satisfaction, two ways to feel valued, and how they all add up to the reason behind hustling hard.

Three Keys to Satisfaction at work


It doesn’t take long for human beings to learn that they like “doing things myself.”  In a house hold of three kids, I can tell you that it starts around 3 to 4 years old. I constantly have to tell my kids, “I realize you can do it yourself, but you just need a little bit of help.”

There plight is not at all dissimilar to that of being an employee to a boss who operates as a tyrant. Yes, I just called my parenting style tyrannical.

The big boy name for wanting to do something yourself, of course, is autonomy – or the ability to decide for yourself.  The reason that it is important to four year olds and adults alike is because we all like to make our own decisions.  In fact, it is about as important as it come with job satisfaction.

Many of us work as employees at our main gig.  The idea of starting a side gig – even one that doesn’t make money – where we get to be both the employer and employee – should create a lot of excitement.  You finally get to decide how things are done.  Unlike my four year old.

Support at Work

It is not an uncommon experience as an employee to put a ton of work into something simply to feel a complete utter lack of support. This then leads to resentment and dissatisfaction.

If you are running your own side hustle, though, you get your support from somewhere else – namely you, your family, and your friends. This is why, if you are going to pursue a side hustle or passion project, you need to have complete support from your family.

Once you have this support, though, it starts making the side hustle worth all the while.  Why?  Because it means that they believe in you, which often makes all the difference.


The first time I ever put a central line in a patient was in the emergency department as an intern.  The patient’s INR was 4 (for my non-medical readers this means their blood was very thin).  To make a long story short: I botched the procedure, the patient bled, and my upper level had to save me.

After staying late to place that line, I got done around midnight for that shift.  I then stayed awake until 4 am because I felt like I’d never be good at my job since, as an anesthesiologist, I would need to be able to be as adept as anyone at placing lines.  I felt incompetent.

Eventually, I became very good at throwing lines in when needed.  Overcoming my prior hurdle made a major difference in my happiness at work, because it is truly satisfying being good at something.  There is even more satisfaction when being good at something improves the lives of people around you.

Writing posts for this blog or the book that I am working on is no different.  As I find my voice and provide more value to my readers, it makes all the hard work and endless hours on this site worth it.

Two Ways To Feel Valued

Time Off (Freedom)

One of the things that I look forward to most about early retirement is being able to set my own schedule.  Wake up with no alarm.  Work out in the morning or sip on a hot cup of breakfast tea on the days I don’t work out.  Go play 9 holes.  Come back, eat lunch.  Work on my side hustles in the afternoon.  Enjoy something fun like a movie or cooking dinner at home.

Rinse and repeat.

The big reason that seems so appealing is that I get to set my own schedule. Anyone that knows me knows that I’ll continue to be productive and probably continue to work part-time once I am financially independent.

The idea of having the ability to control my own schedule is very alluring, though.

In a way, this is just more autonomy.  Except it’s the ultimate autonomy, because the ultimate commodity is time.  It’s not money, it’s time. Being able to dictate when and how much time you get off by being self-employed is appealing.

Having a side hustle will help you get there faster and provide satisfaction while you do it.


You know that time when you put a ton of time and effort into doing something nice for someone – like washing their car, mowing the grass, or doing the dishes – and they didn’t even notice?  Yeah, me neither.  The fact is that simply being productive can feel good in and of itself, but if it goes unrecognized it is often not as rewarding.

I like to teach my kids to do something because it is the right thing to do, but we are all kidding ourselves if we don’t admit that it makes us happy when we have made someone else happy.  It’s one of the many reasons that humans live in communities and not in isolation.

The only way you can know that you’ve made someone happy, though, is if the other person recognizes your work.

Working is not that different in this regard.  We want our supervisors, bosses, and chiefs of the tribe to recognize the hard work we have put in.  When this happens, we feel valued as employees.

Fortunately, side gigs have the same opportunity.  If you create something on your own and even one person comes along and tells you how much it has helped them, then it all seems worth it.

The recognition makes all of the time and effort seem worth it.

Take Home

Simply put, it’s not all about money.  There are other ways to derive satisfaction and value from side hustles or passion projects.

All of the above might provide you reasons to pursue that side hustle or passion project you’ve been thinking about, but have been holding back from pursuing.  Go out and get it.  Make it yours.

Keep husltin’.  You know I will.

Do you have a side hustle? How has it provided value to your life outside of the money you could stand to make?  Would you recommend it to others?  Leave a comment below.


9 thoughts on “Why My Broke Side Hustle is Better Than Your Main Hustle”

  1. Great points as usual TPP. There are a lot of non-monetary benefits that a side hustle can provide.
    My girlfriend even stated that she can see a new light in my eyes when I talk about blogging, a side hustle that to date has taken a lot of time but incredibly low monetary returns. Luckily I don’t have to rely on money from this blog to get me where I want to go (although if it does become a financial juggernaut I will not complain and it will just be gravy).
    I get my biggest benefit from the comments left by my readers. It means a lot when someone takes their time to write back on a post that took awhile to make.
    Well continue your side hustling and hopefully everyone can have success at a passion project, financially or otherwise.

  2. Yes! There are plenty of non-monetary benefits to side hustles. Passion projects are good for the soul as well as the wallet. I look forward to future posts about all the ways your efforts pay off.

  3. Yes! This is exactly why I’m loving my new blogging-habit so much! I haven’t made a dime, and I’m not sure it will. But a few people have told me how it helped them, and that knowledge will fuel me for months. I identify with the need for autonomy as well as recognition. Simply and thoughtfully put, thanks!

  4. I think you are completely right about the non monetary benefits. Side hustles are passion projects that teach us so much. if they happen to make extra money, even better.

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