Article contributed by The School of Life

Missions are things we tend to associate with astronauts and secret agents, but they don’t need to be. 

If someone at a party asked you what you did, and you said you were involved on a mission of some kind, they might look at you a little strangely.

In truth, we can all benefit from developing missions, or side hustles of one kind or another, that can help give our lives a little more fulfilment or meaning.

So where do we start?  

1) Finding focus

Our working life will only be, for most, around 50 years at best.

Thanks in part to the internet, we have more choice over where we spend our time than ever before.

Ironically though, the more choice we have, the easier it can be to become frustrated.

The challenge, then, is around focus: how can we focus on what’s most important to us; how can we focus on what makes us the happiest; how can we focus on the areas that we are most passionate about?

2) Develop a plan and courageously stick to it

This step centres around reducing the amount of times that, lacking a clear personal goal, we get swept along by the plans of others.

Conceiving of new ventures requires us to bravely throw off an attitude of inner passivity, where we imagine that only other people have the right to plan their lives and everyone else must surrender to the whims of employers.

3) What can you do, and what do people need? 

Think about both what we are good at and like doing, and what other people need most.

A mission is different from an ambition. An ambition starts with what we want. A mission centres around what others need.

The most successful side hustles combine both. Wherever our skills and aptitudes intersect with the needs of the world, that is our distinctive zone.

This is where we might locate the most interesting new opportunities that are unique to us.

People with passionate projects may well end up making money and having status, but that isn’t usually what led them to it in the first place.

A team of Australian scientists at CSIRO, for example, maddened by the limitations of tangled cables, and imagining that many others were equally frustrated, put their unique talents to work to invent the world’s first wireless internet.

Similarly, the Australian bookshop owner J Birchall invented the modern notepad when he grew frustrated by how impractical it was to carry around loose sheets of paper on windy days.

4) An honest look at aptitudes and interests 

What truly are our talents? What can we personally contribute? What makes us feel most alive?

This may require a lot of introspection and quite a bit of experimentation. Thankfully, there are abundant resources online which can help, including numerous articles, workshops and talks at The School of Life.

Examples of some side hustles we might come up with might be a new online service that allows the elderly or isolated to communicate more easily with the outside world via video calling, a blog that reviews the latest cultural exhibitions or films in our area, a site that teaches children music in an engaging way, or a new service that gets the best new cuisines out to the customers of downtown Darwin.

We can all have missions – even if we aren’t necessarily lucky enough to find them in our day-to-day work.

In an age of rapid information exchange, where the internet has transformed the way we communicate and the opportunities, it allows us all to set up and do business – it’s never been easier to research and put into practice some exciting new ventures.

With a side hustle in hand that gives you a real sense of fulfilment, the next time you’re at a party, you won’t need to keep the conversation at the level of where you’re employed.

You can, with no space helmet or spy gadgets to your name, legitimately announce that you’re on this Earth with an exciting mission to carry out.

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