The time for physicians to start a side hustle? Right now.

“Do not wait, the time will never be just right.”
– Napoleon Hill

“The perfect time to start something never arrives. Start now.”
– T. Harv Eker

Timing is everything. In life, love, and business, this axiom holds true. At least, that’s what we tell ourselves. But is this always the case?

As a reader of this blog, you probably have some desire to establish some streams of passive income. So if you haven’t done so already, let me ask you this: Are you waiting for the perfect time to start making this dream a reality? Well, I’m going to let you in on a little secret – there simply is no perfect time.

Busy all the time

Medical students, residents, fellows, and attendings have all reached out to me, asking when the “best” time to start a side hustle really is. My response is always the same: “Why not start now?”

Of course, most people seem to reply with some variation of the same answer, “I’m really busy right now, but maybe later.”

As medical students, it’s true; you feel like you’re drowning in the books. You’re so busy learning mnemonics to remember all the cranial nerves, or so exhausted from waking up early to pre-round and studying every evening that there doesn’t seem to be any time left in the day.

As a resident, you’re trying to hone your craft and survive. You’re sitting there with ten pagers weighing down your scrub pants, and you’re just trying to get through the shift. Or perhaps you’re spending extra time on your research paper trying to look good for fellowship applications. You’re hitting close to 80 hours a week, and at the end of a 30-hour shift, there’s no way you have time to think about other things.

Or maybe you’ve finally made it as an attending, but you’re trying to build your practice and your reputation. Maybe you find you’re working more hours than ever, and you’re exhausted when you get home.

Then there’s the possibility that during one of these stages you either have or are about to start a family. So you try your best to be a present and engaged parent, all the while juggling your training and career.

In all of this, where is anyone supposed to find a good time to start a side hustle?

Other common excuses

Maybe it’s not just the fact that you’re too busy. Maybe you feel you need more resources, like money or connections. Maybe you feel that this will come when you reach the next level (“maybe when I’m an attending …”).

For some reason, people seem to think that tomorrow will somehow miraculously be better, that the stormy waters will somehow become calm and make it easy to sail to the promised land. The truth is, you can come up with an endless amount of excuses or justifications for putting it off.

But here’s that secret again: that time will almost never come. Life is full of challenges; if it’s not one thing, it’s another. All the future brings is a new set of challenges.

Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Challenges force you to grow and not become complacent, and it’s part of what makes life interesting and keeps you motivated as a human. Without having some sort of new challenge, you don’t experience growth, and when that happens, humans tend to lose purpose.

In other words, the perfect time will never exist. Get the ball rolling now, challenge yourself, and when you do reach the next stage of your life, you’ll already be reaping the rewards.

Should you even start a side hustle?

I’ve already gone to great lengths to tell you why I think all doctors should consider having a side hustle. As a quick recap, I believe that having a financial hedge against the seemingly constant changes in medicine is never a bad idea. Also, it’s a great way to explore or awaken a passion that you normally wouldn’t.

And, of course, side hustles can be the most effective ways to build streams of passive income. The more you have, the quicker you can realize the ultimate goal of true financial freedom. It may take some effort, but even just a few short years down the road, the results can be phenomenal.

Are you waiting for it to be easier?

My response to this is simple: if it were easy, then everyone would be doing it. Everyone would be financially independent, perfectly content where they are. I would venture to say that it’s the minority of people who are close to where they want to be in life. That’s because it takes hard work to get there.

As Dave Ramsey said, “Live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else.”

This powerful quote can be applied to so many areas of your life. He’s talking about having financial discipline, but I also apply it to developing multiple streams of income. I don’t have it all figured out, but I feel like I’ve chosen the “harder” road, at least initially. I work on my passive income streams in my “free time.” I often wake up before my family does so that I can work in quiet. I’m definitely tired after work, but I still spend a few hours before I sleep working on my businesses as well.

This kind of discipline isn’t necessarily easy or always enjoyable, but it gets results, and I’m very happy to have given up some free time in order to secure my future.

How do you start?

The first thing to do is define your goals. What do you want your life to look like in one year, five years, and ten years down the road? Be as specific as possible.

You’ve heard the saying, “Keep your eyes on the prize.” To me, this means that you should focus mostly on your goal and not stress over the process. If you are determined to reach a goal, you will take action and figure out a way to get there. Don’t let fear or hesitation keep you from taking the first step. Don’t look down at your feet, look at the finish line while you sprint.

Finally, don’t expect the universe to necessarily give you a huge sign to start. If it’s on your mind, that may be the sign that you need. Find motivation in others that are doing it or have achieved it and get going. I almost guarantee you; you won’t regret that you did. Go for it. Now is the perfect time to start that side hustle.

“Passive Income, MD” is a physician who blogs at his self-titled site, Passive Income M.D.

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