Teacher guilt is real, my friends. But that doesn’t mean you should let it stop you from running your business the way you want. Today we are talking about why you shouldn’t feel guilty about your side hustle, and how you can let that guilt go.
Guilt is a real thing. Every teacher feels guilty for some reason or another. I swear, I have even felt guilty for sleeping before. Yes, sleeping! One of those things that you have to do. I felt guilty for doing that rather than staying up and pulling an all nighter and working on something for my kids. Do we recognize how ridiculous that is? We might recognize it, but it’s hard to get past it.
So why should you not feel guilty for your side hustle? There are so many reasons!
Let’s think about this for a second. First of all, what you do outside of school hours is no one’s business but your own. When you clock out of school and pull out of that parking lot, your time is your own. My personal opinion is that doing something that lights you up and brings you joy makes you a better teacher when you pull up in the morning. If having a side hustle makes you feel good and helps you recharge and refresh, that is not something to feel guilty about.
The other thing I hear people say a lot is that they feel guilty because they are using this time to make money.
This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me but I do get it. Teachers are trained or prepared for our entire lives, as soon as we know we are going to be teachers, that we are going to be poor. This is just the expectation. So for us to go out and try to make more money feels weird. I get that! But if you have ever brought financial strain into your classroom, you know that it carries through to your students. Sure, they don’t know that you’re struggling under the weight of your student loans, or that your car broke down and you can’t afford to fix it, but they know something is off. They know you’re not fully there because you’re worried about survival. Taking time to make money after school is not a selfish thing to do. It is a way that you can take care of yourself and be there in a more fully present way for your students.
I could also go on about all the ways that learning a new skill and being an entrepreneur is a fabulous way to relate to your kids.
It makes you more empathetic. It makes you relate to them more, because let’s face it, if you have been out of school for a while, it is hard to remember what it was like to study for a test for a long time and not do well. But when you are an entrepreneur sometimes you put effort into things and they don’t turn out the way you planned – that is a connection with a kid.
So can we all agree that feeling guilty about your side hustle is not a thing that you need to do?
Okay but here’s the thing, it happens anyway, right? We know this. It does lighten up after a while because after a while you realize that it doesn’t make you a worse teacher. For me anyway, it made me a much better teacher, in fact.
Let’s talk about some things that you can do to move away from that teacher guilt that we all feel at some point.
First and foremost, be present in whatever you do. That means when you are at school, you are fully at school. You are not responding to business emails or checking your business website. When you are prepping for class, you are prepping for class. When you have kids in front of you, they are all you are thinking about. Being able to compartmentalize and separate different parts of your life like that makes it much easier to let go of that guilt because you know you are not going to let your side hustle make it’s way into your classroom. You are still going to be there 100% for your kids, just like it has always been.
When you are at home working on your side hustle, be 100% present for it as well. It allows you to take that much needed break from teacher brain and let’s you focus on something else for a while. Even if your side hustle is education related, you can separate yourself from everything in your classroom. Be present in everything that you do and let the other things go away from some time. This helps you get rid of that guilt because you know you are still going to be there for your kids.
Another thing you can do to help assuage guilt that comes along with a side hustle is to simply stop apologizing. You do not have to apologize to anyone for having a side hustle. Whether that side hustle is ultimately designed to help you leave that classroom or to help you buy a vacation home, you don’t owe anyone an apology or an explanation about it. So stop apologizing and stop explaining!
A couple of years ago I noticed as I was leaving school and passing other teachers still in their rooms working, I would tell them why I was leaving. I have a doctors appointment, I have to pick up my daughter, I have to run to the bank, I have errands to run before I go home and make dinner, and I felt the need to explain to them why I was leaving at 3, 3:30, or even 4 o’clock in the afternoon when our teacher hours were done at 2:50. For some reason, I was feeling guilt about leaving a little late.
So I decided to stop explaining or apologizing for leaving early. And you know what happened? Nothing. I didn’t feel the need to explain to people why I was leaving school. I knew that as a responsible teacher, parent, and side hustler, that my time and how I manage it is up to me. So If i didn’t want to work in school anymore, I could go home and spend some time on my business, or with my daughter, or doing school work at home, I could even take a nap if I wanted and that was okay. As soon as I stopped apologizing and explaining my actions to people, I stopped feeling the need to explain it to myself. I felt that guilt about leaving whenever the heck I wanted start to fade away.
The third thing you can do to help stop the guilt is to start recognizing all the good that comes out of your side hustle. This might be that you come to class a more refreshed teacher in the morning because you took a break, you stepped back from class work, and you were able to disconnect. And when you reconnected, you were totally, fully, engaged. It might mean that you were able to send your kid to this really awesome dance school that they really wanted that you couldn’t afford before.
It might be that you’re able to spend a little bit more of your money from your side hustle on your classroom. But if you’re able to spread the wealth by helping kids in your class, giving to charity, helping families in need, all the good that comes out of your side hustle because you are able to be more fully present and more giving of yourself and your time and your money. These are all great reasons to keep your side hustle going, without the guilt.
Last but not least, there’s one other thing you can do to stop feeling guilty about your side hustle is to simply decide to stop. I’m not saying that’s easy, that you’re going to flip a switch and all of that guilt is going to be gone. I am saying that sometimes you need to create an inner script for yourself that says “I have a business, it lights me up, and I am not sorry about it.” Wouldn’t it be such an amazing gift to yourself to just stop feeling guilty? To stop feeling like having a side hustle is doing something wrong? You know in your head it’s not, but sometimes our heart gets a little in the way sometimes and tells us that we are doing something wrong because we are taking away from our students. We’re not, in any way, taking away from our students. By doing something that lights us up, we are being a better version of ourselves and demonstrating for our students possibilities. We are showing up for ourselves as the best version of us and that is a gift in and of itself.
So I would love to challenge you to drop the guilt. To start deciding that you are not going to feel guilty about having a side hustle because your side hustle doesn’t have to be for anybody else. It can be just for you, and that’s okay.
Check out Side Hustle Teachers on Facebook and join our group today, I can’t wait to see you there.