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What is Moonlighting?

"Moonlighting is a term used to describe the practice of taking on additional employment or side gigs, often beyond one’s primary job or profession. It’s like having a “second job” or engaging in supplementary work. A survey reveals that moonlighting jobs and side hustles are a significant part of the American work landscape. Approximately 6 out of 10 people (56%) are currently engaged in moonlighting jobs or side hustles in addition to their main source of income. " -

I have seen this in practice, where a lot of individuals I work with have a side hustle or moonlighting job. It can bring about many benefits ranging from additional income, and skills development, to job/passion satisfaction. One can imagine with two careers, balance would be extremely crucial to ensure sustainability in the long term for both the careers itself and also mental well-being.

I had the pleasure to contribute to Skillsuccess's article on this topic which you can read here, with additional thoughts shared below.

1. How can individuals balance their main job, side hustle, and personal life effectively in 2024?

P - PROTECT your time: Organisation and time management would be crucial to achieve this balance. One aspect when organising your time is to ensure that there is protected /allocated time for each task. This means there is a set minimum time locked in and not moveable. This can help us concentrate on one task at a time without being distracted and pulled to doing something else. This is a common technique recommended in therapy (DBT - one mindfully).

R - REALISTIC goals: To gain, we give. It would be unrealistic to ensure we can do everything perfectly or give our 100% devotion and time to multiple competing takes. Sometimes we need to take zoom out/step back, to gain a wider perspective. A recommendation is to set yourself realistic goals to achieve more, balance them and not burnout.

E - Evaluate your values: When we get stuck into a routine of balancing multiple demands, we can easily lose the bigger picture. Take regular time to stop and think. Are these tasks still align with my values? Am I living by what is important for me?. Ensuring a value-aligned life not only makes you more fulfilled, it boosts motivation that benefits the balancing act itself.

F - Flexibility: Yes, I have been recommending to ensure routine and locked in times but it is equally important to be flexible. There will naturally be times that one task will need more attention than another. Flexibility allows us to reprioritise tasks and help us achieve goals without dropping one thing entirely over another or on the other hand, not having enough attention to address the issue at all.

2. What strategies do you recommend to prevent burnout while pursuing moonlighting opportunities?

Based on psychological theory on burnout (Maslach and Jackson, 1981), the three stages/ingredients for burnout are emotional exhaustion ("I am tired, I want to sleep"), cynicism /detachment ("what is the point of this") and reduced personal achievement ("I don't want this anymore").

Knowing this helps one understand how to prevent it. I would recommend three areas listed below.

Practical: Often emotional exhaustion is due to the lack of energy (physical and emotional) to meet the, in this case, multiple demands. This would mean following through with the above list of balancing strategies to ensure on a practical level that your capacity supply meets demand. Being mindful of how much you are giving and where the line is at to slow down, recover, before attempting again.

Boundaries: Once we feel we are over capacity, we are left exhausted, we may even start to doubt whether there is a point to continue. Boundaries would be important to ensure your own well-being but also knowing when to outsource and delegate to optimise your time. E.g. delegate tasks that you find less interesting or most draining where possible to reserve focus on your key tasks.

Mindset: The way we perceive a situation is very powerful and can help us prevent burnout and also achieve this balance and excel. It is recommended to be mindful of the thoughts we are experiencing, even before we feel burnt out. Notice whether there are thoughts of doubt, cynicism, or feeling unsure about your goals. These can easily snowball into bigger thoughts like that in the final stage of burnout. Catching them early on, challenging and addressing them can help reverse the burnout cycle.

3. How can one prioritize self-care while juggling multiple professional commitments?

Acceptance and commitment.

All of us often say we need to self care but rarely do we feel we want to self care. Let's take ownership of this as it will help us see it as a priority rather than another task in our schedule.

To take ownership, practising acceptance and commitment can help. Accepting that we are all humans which means we need a break from time to time and cannot do things perfectly or non stop. Commited that you would take time out to focus on self care, especially at those times of highest stress.

Reference: Moonlighting Jobs in 2024: Facts, Statistics, and Expert Insights. SEPTEMBER 30, 2023, Marcjean Yutuc.


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