Multiple Gigs vs. One Full-Time Job
As I’ve been job hunting and researching career options over the last several months, one phrase keeps popping up in the discussions: Multiple Streams of Income. I recommend NOT Googling that phrase because you’ll be sucked into a swirling vortex of sketchy financial advice and $.99 self-published books on how to become a millionaire so you can quit your day job. It’s exhausting!
There is one aspect of this concept, however, that really makes a lot of sense to me. I love the idea of working two or more part-time jobs instead of having all of my income coming from one place.
I’ve tried this in several different configurations over the years as opportunities became available. Most of the time I’ve had one full-time job and then multiple second jobs (now known as “side gigs”).
That arrangement worked fairly well when I was younger and was necessary because my full-time job didn’t pay the bills. Eventually, my full-time job paid better, those side gigs became replaced with “hobbies” that I could do at my leisure – things like selling art, teaching classes, or writing. I told myself that I would eventually make enough money at these hobbies to quit that day job, but as the years went on, it became more and more difficult to find the energy and motivation for the work I really wanted to do. I was miserable at that full-time job and I knew I really needed to start making the transition, but it was just so much easier on a day-to-day basis to go in and sit at that desk and benefit from the steady income and benefits (even if the work was literally sucking the life out of me).
Then, my employer “graciously” decided to remedy this situation through a process called transparent separation, which is basically a way to lay off employees without having to pay them a severance. Seeing my primary source of income vanishing before my eyes motivated me to revisit the side gigs.
As I researched, I was finding more and more people (a surprising number of them in middle age) who use ONLY “side gigs,” to earn a full-time income. They ironically refer to this method of making a living as “multiple streams of income.” Most of the people I’ve met who actually live this lifestyle have no delusions about getting rich. They readily admit they put in more hours and work harder than they ever did in their “real jobs,” but they’re happier now.
This full-time side-gig idea is not for everyone. For example, it might not be a good solution for someone who is responsible for a young family and needs a steady income and benefits. It won’t work for someone who has career aspirations that include the need to focus on one job for several years.
However, anyone who is in the stage of life where a corporate career no longer appeals, and who has a little bit of flexibility financially might want to consider this approach to working to (and through?) retirement. Here are two reasons to consider taking the so-called “multiple streams of income” approach to working.
Less Dependence on One Resource
If you love your job and your career, then committing to an employer that makes it happen is probably a good option.
But if your career has stalled out and you find yourself needing to balance multiple priorities every day — your family’s needs, your own health and wellbeing, your dreams and desires for your own life — that gets pretty tough when you have an employer who demands 60 hours of your week, pays you for 40, and engages in all sorts of gaslighting techniques to keep you “grateful” for a job you don’t even like.
Having multiple part-time sources of income makes it a lot easier to quit any one of them because you have other sources you can rely on.
Flexibility to Explore Opportunities
When I had a full-time job, I was not available to do much of anything else between about 6am and 6pm, Monday through Friday. As the job became more and more stressful, I wasn’t really available during the evenings or on weekends either, because I was simply too drained and exhausted.
Although schedules may vary, this is a common problem for full-time employees. It’s really very difficult to go back to school to train for something else, or even to explore other options because you simply do not have the time or energy.
Even when a more interesting job opportunity presents itself, if that job pays less than what you’re making at your full-time job, it’s hard to justify quitting a higher paying job for a lower-paying one. The employer at the more interesting job very often will not even take you seriously as a candidate, because they believe you are either not being truthful about your reasons for leaving your current situation (i.e. maybe you’re about to be fired?) or that you will only stay in this fun, lower-paying job until you can move into one that pays what you are accustomed to earning.
Once you are settled into a routine of accepting part-time work as it becomes available, you will be amazed at how many opportunities you have been missing out on. You’re free to network, complete training, make in-person coffee dates, or set up conference calls to explore all sorts of opportunities that simply aren’t practical while engrossed in a full-time career.
Words of Caution
Depending on the types of part-time jobs you accept, you might find yourself working all sorts of crazy hours, and the pay (at least at first) may not be great. With any new career (even a fun one) it’s usually necessary to “pay your dues” in the beginning so that you can reap a greater reward in the long run. This may involve attending unpaid training and working for minimum wage (or less) on certain projects.
If you decide to start doing the part-time gig thing before you quit your full-time job you might get yourself into a higher tax bracket which could prove to be disadvantageous. Be sure to do your research and/or consult a qualified tax advisor to discover your best options.
It’s quite likely some of the important people in your life will not completely understand why you need to make this particular change and may have some odd reactions, so you’ll need to be prepared to shake that off and keep moving forward. You also may experience a bit of a let-down effect after making this (or any) career change, so be prepared to give yourself time to work through it.
This option is not a good one for everyone, but if you think it sounds like an option you would like to explore, be sure to check out these GenXrestrux Resources to get started.
I’m doing this, but I like to think of what I’m doing as “one job” with “multiple clients.” Although I’m doing work for several different companies, thinking of it as having a dozen “jobs” would drive me insane.
- GenXrestrux: Resources Page
- GenXrestrux: 50+ and Considering Semi-Retirement as a Career Transition
- Rat Race Rebellion: Gig Info and Updates
- FlexJobs: 24 High-Paying, Flexible Side Jobs You Can Do in Your Spare Time
- The Balance Careers: Where to Find Legitimate Micro Jobs and What is Crowdsourcing?