Can the secret to financial independence be in more work instead of less?

This is going to sound ridiculous but bear with me. The last two years have completely changed my life, and I can honestly say that I’ve found the secret to financial independence.

But it might not be what you want to hear.

A question by a blogger friend got me thinking about how my life had changed since I started freelancing full-time in 2013. Martin was getting ready to launch his side-hustle podcast and was asking around for reasons why people hustle.

I put in between 50 and 60 hours a week on the two blogs, and for my private clients, so I’m no stranger to the hustle, but to my surprise, I didn’t have an immediate answer to the question.

The old reasons for money and being my own boss didn’t apply. The money is nice but no longer necessary after years of saving and investing. I never wanted to be my boss, preferring to get my work done instead of being in total control.

Then it struck me. I hustle because I love the hustle. I love the challenge.

I am happier than I’ve ever been and it’s not a result of working less, as I always thought, it’s because I’m working more!

I wasn’t always about the hustle.

Before you think I’m crazy or just one of those people that has to be moving every second, I wasn’t always like this. I was a miserable mess at work in my 20s and even my 30s. I hated nearly every job and spent half the time just staring at the computer, waiting for retirement. My only enjoyment was managing my real estate rentals and investing, but I didn’t spend more than ten hours a week doing it.

I needed a side hustle
This was me at work.

If this sounds like you, consider what kind of life you’re living. Do you want to be miserable for more than a third of your life? What are you going to do when retirement finally comes?

How the hustle changed my life

At first, the hustle became necessary. I had worked freelancing for a couple of years but only on the side to make a little extra money. We moved back to Colombia in late 2013, and I had to replace my whole income with analysis projects for financial advisors and private equity firms.

If I didn’t work, I didn’t get paid, so I worked my ass off.

In 2014, I started the two blogs, and the hustle factor increased even more. Starting a blog is no joke. Besides constantly writing new content, you’re always putting together ways to get it in front of more people.

This was when the hustle became exciting.

The constant need to work out new projects for the blogs and to put together ideas for my freelance clients started to become a challenge. Not a challenge in the sense that I was running ragged but a challenge that I looked forward to beating every week. My enthusiasm translated to higher rates with clients and big traffic boosts on the blogs.

I started catching myself checking email and outlining notes on the weekend. Television became boring, and I would sit there thinking about what I wanted to do over the next few days.

side hustle is my life
Are you up to the hustle challenge?

This was when the hustle became my life.

I don’t think much about retirement anymore. Sure, I still put money away and take advantage of tax benefits on retirement accounts, but it’s not something that worries me. I’ll be doing this until I’m 100, if I can. If I’m ever unable to hustle, then I probably won’t be able to do much of anything besides drool on myself, and I won’t need a giant nest egg to do that.

So the next time you’re worrying about money or if you have enough for retirement, the next time you let out a desperate scream at the thought of going to work, start thinking about how you can make the hustle a part of your life.

Where’s your Hustle?

Most people think of the hustle as a side gig you start outside your 9-to-5, but your day job can become your hustle just as well. I think it’s harder because your success isn’t always related to the amount of hustle you put into it. That success is important in developing the hustle from something that’s necessary to something you enjoy.

If your hustle isn’t at your 9-to-5 job, then find something you like to do as a hobby job. You’re probably going to be working your tail off at both jobs for a while, so your side gig has to start with a passion. If you’re looking for ideas, check out an earlier post on how to make money freelancing and nine websites that help reach clients.

Another good resource to develop your side job is Udemy. The online learning site offers courses as low as $15 and is a great way to build your skills fast in a particular position. Once you’ve started your side hustle, you might check out to find clients.

Your hustle probably isn’t going to be so captivating at first, and there will always be times when it won’t be fun. You might have to adjust your schedule and sacrifice to fit it in. Give it a year, and you’ll start getting addicted to the challenge. You’ll see real success, and it will become hard to imagine your life without the hustle.

That’s when the hustle will become your life.

About the Author

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Joseph Hogue is a financial expert and investment analyst. After serving in the Marine Corps, he started his career investing in real estate before becoming an investment analyst for some of the largest private investors. He's appeared on Bloomberg and on CNBC as an investment expert and has published ten books in personal finance. Now he helps investors reach their financial goals and invest in the stock market with some of the same advice he used when working for the rich.