One of the big signs of a polyentrepreneur is the desire to turn every skill and hobby into something that earns money. This is usually due to an entrepreneurial streak a mile wide, but for those of us who have grown up poor (or have expensive hobbies) there are also financial motivations. And those financial motivations can lead to lots and lots of guilt.
Case in point: I recently opened a package of macro lens add-ons I’d had for months and took them outside to try out on the rose bushes. It quickly became habit to go out every day to check for new buds, new shapes, and try out new angles and new magnifications. I enjoyed myself immensely for a few days… and then the guilt started to creep in. “These photos are nice and all, but even if you do start a photography business no one’s going to buy them. So what’s the point?”
In other words, how could I possibly allow myself to indulge in something that doesn’t earn me money?
This way of thinking can be deadly. I was trying to stop myself from doing something that I really enjoy, which can affect more than just a single business idea. If you’ve read my list of Top 10 Things Every Polyentrepreneur Needs to Thrive, you’ll know that “deliberate relaxation” is one of the most important – it’s #3. True, if the photography business does work it will likely become a bit more work than play to photograph roses, but for right now it’s what I do when I’m feeling stressed or depressed. Taking a few moments to focus on something else and come up with beautiful results does a lot of recharging, or at least it will as long as I keep the guilt at bay. It can also lead to worse results – lack of self esteem, lack of trust in myself, and lack of motivation in future projects and interests.
I have some techniques for combating this guilt.
Don’t be financially afraid.
This is a topic in and of itself that I struggle with hugely (and will likely write several articles on). Approaching your finances with responsibility and confidence instead of fear and anxiety will head off the guilt early on – if you feel financially secure, then there will be no reason you shouldn’t engage in something that doesn’t earn you money!
Even if you aren’t earning much now, take steps to be less afraid and keep the fear from taking over. Budgeting is an obvious step, but for some of us (including me right now) even that is daunting. So I share a piece of advice I heard recently, just a tiny step you can take to change your thinking: check your account balance every single day, and when you do, think of three things that are signs of how abundant your life is right now. This will both remind you of how much you already have as well as make looking at your money a pleasant activity instead of a frightening one. It’ll also make you more aware of how much money you really do have, which can help you curb bad spending habits.
Be conscious of your activities and why you do them.
This goes back to the “deliberate relaxation” thing. On days when I don’t have a plan I’ll often find myself spending hours on the internet or playing computer games, only to end feeling tired, unproductive, and frustrated with myself. However, on days when I spend all day working and then play games for an hour, or rest days that I consciously set aside for play, I enjoy myself and finishing feeling happy, refreshed, and even productive on occasion!
Acknowledge that you need downtime/playtime/non-money-making time and work it into your schedule. Whenever the guilt starts to creep in remind yourself – this is your time, and you as a person are much more important than your ability to make money.
Make this time practical in other ways.
I love to knit, but I’m full up on businesses that are nearly impossible to earn a living at, so I’m keeping it as a hobby. In order to justify the hours spent (and my yarn stash!), most of the things I knit are entirely practical – I’ve made myself two scarves already, and I’m looking forward to a hat, a second set of fingerless gloves (my mother made my first), and eventually bigger projects like a sweater.
If you personally don’t have a practical use for your hobbies, you can also give things as gifts! Giving homemade gifts is getting to be a huge movement right now, and most people understand and appreciate the time you spent – making the gift that much more meaningful.
How have you dealt with your guilt?