Tag Archives: Moonlighting

Think Strategically by Saying No

This is important no matter who you are, as long as you value your time. I first started thinking about this topic in terms of being a business owner, but I think this is a practice that I should really start applying to my everyday life. Actually, I believe that I have started a bit already, but you can be the judge.

As I said, the first time I started considering this as a concept I should start applying to my business. Especially since I’m running something on the side, my time is limited. A while ago I realized that even though I kept saying I want to grow the business, my actions weren’t necessarily reflecting this.

While there is no way I can escape the day-to-day right now, there were definitely some things that I was focusing too much time on that had little to no effect on the business. They were just little tasks or decisions that were an easy distraction to think about, but when they’re dealt with inefficiently it can eat up more time and energy than they’re worth. Realizing that it’s ok to say “no” to non-urgent things that pop up and deal with it when there is time set aside has been an awesome way of keeping my mind clear.

When you choose not to worry about things until you dictate, you are able to keep your thoughts and efforts focused on what is important to you. In my case that is mostly focused on strategy. I truly do want to grow my business, but before when every time I sat down to work on it I was allowing myself to get distracted with what I falsely labelled “urgent” it meant I never had the time or energy to get to thinking strategically. Now I say “no” until the tasks pile up enough that I can do them all at once, or wait until I don’t want to think any more and can do busy work.

The same can be said personally, and luckily I think I have started to learn this lesson. I love getting involved with many different things and that has lead to overcommitting myself, especially in volunteer efforts. About a year ago I started feeling burn-out for this and about six months after that I decided that something needed to change. Reluctantly I have been shedding some of my volunteer responsibilities and am concentrating on being more selective. This has meant being able to contribute a greater amount, without spreading myself too thin.

After stepping away from this for a bit and now reading over it again, I’m fairly certain that I’m just slower than the curve when it comes to this idea. The one thing that I will say, is that sometimes saying “no” seems rude or like we’ve letting someone down. As a person who has been on both sides of the conversation, believe me, it’s a far greater let down than if you commit to something you can’t handle.


I realize that there are (and will continue to be) posts where I’m waving my finger, talking about how people should live within their means. While this may be true, I know I’m violating a rule that I try to always hold myself and others to, which is if you are making a criticism, at least make it constructive.

The obvious answer to living within your means is to keep a leash on your spending, which is all good and fine for some. If you’re anything like me, however, rather than conceding to giving up on doing things that would make you happy, I prefer to think of creative ways of working around the issue. One answer to this is moonlighting.

Before some of you start getting defensive. This doesn’t mean going to get a job in a mall, nor does it mean working the night shift at a factory (not that there’s anything wrong with either of these). There are almost endless ways to make some more scratch and it needs to fit into your life in a comfortable way. Don’t feel shame, though. People from all walks of life choose to do a little work on the side, from physical labour, to doctors, to tutors, to accountants. The list goes on and the only thing that these people have in common is the fact they want to make more money.

For some of us, moonlighting is likely something we’ve considered once or twice in the past, in some shape or form. It could be in the form of a part-time job, doing some contract work in your field, starting a business, or doing something even more creative. Whichever path is best for you really depends on multiple factors and the decision won’t be the same for everyone. There are a few things that should probably be considered.

  1. Will it work around / be allowed by your current employment? In terms of schedule, as well as your employer being OK with the type of work. I recommend being open and honest about it, because regardless of the upside, losing your full-time gig because of something on the side isn’t worth it. Also, violating your employment contract is rarely advisable.
  2. What impact will it have on you and your life? If you love going to the cabin every weekend, getting a job that keeps you in town may solve the money problem, but I’m guessing will leave you unhappy before long. Similarly, if you feel like something is “below you,” that mindset doesn’t usually vanish and you’ll continue to be miserable.
  3. Can you actually do the work and are people willing to pay you? Deciding one day to be a “management consultant” sounds very impressive, but do you have the experience and expertise to back it up? There is no point in marketing yourself as a high-level guru if you can’t walk the walk, because people will eventually realize you have no clue what you’re talking about. Better to not give them the chance and stick with what you know.

Besides giving your financial freedom, moonlighting may give you the opportunity to expand your skill set and learn something new. If you have an area of interest and can find something related to it, all the better. My tired example is that I wanted to have a small side business and started it up, which is now making me some money. I wanted to get better at writing, so I started this blog. I’m not making anything off of it (yet), but don’t know what the future has in store.

Taking it a step further, if you have a hobby that you are spending time on anyway, it may be interesting to see if anyone will pay you to do that. For example if you enjoy painting on the weekends, why not try and sell a few? You can set up a website, post them on Kijiji or go to a craft fair. This way your work doesn’t even feel like work. The obvious downside is you may not end up feeling great about your work if nothing sells, but if you are OK with that possibility there’s no harm!

All in all, I’m just here to say that there is no harm in looking into your options and this is a better choice than spending above your means. While it may not be the sexiest choice, doing it now while you’re young is still a much better option than being forced to do it at an older age. Really, when it comes down to it, who out of us honestly has no free time to spare?