If there's one quality I love in myself it's that I've got hustle.
For the past two decades, that hustle has been of the side-hustle variety. It was a hustle I let loose in my free time while I concentrated on something more central, like a job or university degrees.
But my side hustles haven't always worked out. I had an idea for a television series based on the fur trade that everyone told me they loved, but it's still just that — an unwritten idea. And back in 2011, I had an idea for a book about the future of fertility and the next-generation global family, based in my experience as an only child and my thesis that, despite most of us not wanting "just" one kid, most of the world is arriving at this family size anyway. It's true in China, and in Cuba, and in Israel, and in Italy, and in Canada, and in Japan.
So I flew myself to China for 100 days or so of research on that project. It wasn't cheap. But, like all side hustles, someone who'd decided to devote proper time to their hustle — namely, another writer who was also an only child and also had a global view of only children — beat me to the punch.
She published the book I was hoping to write. My side hustle had failed. Her full hustle hadn't. Lesson: You want something, you have to devote full hustle to it.
In 2017, I'm backing out of the side hustle game and going full hustle. I have no job other than hustle. I have no side projects. All are front-burner items. All are hustle.
This is a terrifying thing to do. I had no idea how I'd be paying my mortgage in March. Thankfully, I hustled up some work and it's paid. Similarly I have no idea where the money will come from in April, either. But the rule of hustling is that it builds off of momentum. In a few weeks of hustling, I'm seeing that grow.
I'm less worried than you might expect.
This is a beautiful feeling, when it works. Where there was once nothing, you made something. And this is the only feeling that makes the hard hustle worth it. A feeling of intense confidence. A knowledge that your ideas can, sometimes, take off.
As I set out on a year of working on a book, it is this and this alone that I needed. Confidence. Maybe the book won't work out. Maybe it will. But without me remembering my hustle, seeing its potential turn into concrete things, like a mortgage that's now paid, I kept the book as a side hustle.
It won't be written as a side hustle.
I hope more people can follow their guts and their natural hustle, too. It's not secure, it's not predictable, it's not boring. It's the speed of life. It's how you achieve that hard, hard thing you keep dreaming of. Hustle.
© Copyright 2017 Tim Querengesser. No reproductions without license. Image: Flickr/Thor