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How to Thrive in Your Main Job and Your Side Hustle

Melissa Peirano isn’t just an Associate Partner at Bridgeforce. She’s also an artist who creates work and hosts an annual show. Find out how she balances both and why having a side hustle is worthwhile below.

 

Melissa Peirano

 

Side hustles…they’re a mixed bag. Some bring joy, others just work. But what’s reality? Even passion projects blend enjoyment and effort. 

In my three-decade career I’ve had many side gigs. Some for money (babysitting to writing code), others for pleasure and funds. Let’s zoom in on the latter, the ones that light up life and finance family vacations. 

My art side hustle began two decades ago when I took a break from work to spend time with family. During that time, I started painting,, and before long I was selling my work and taking commissions for more. In 2007, I opened a local gallery showcasing original, contemporary artwork by regional artists, including myself.

Juggling art and gallery ownership was intense. I sold art, painted non-stop, taught, curated installations, ran shows, marketed like mad, and even led creative camps. Suddenly, my art venture had morphed into a 24/7 affair. Family time fell to the wayside. I was busier than ever, even without my 9-5, and it started to get to me. Suddenly, the corporate challenges I’d been eager to escape seemed appealing, and I made my way back to full-time, traditional work. 

After about two years back in the corporate world, I missed the artists, my customers and producing art regularly. So, I started it up again, this time as a side hustle. I embraced the parts of the gallery experience that I loved. I started an annual art show hosted in my home, which is still going strong nine years later.  

Here’s what I figured out: I need both hustles to feel complete. The side gig stirs up creativity in my main gig. The main hustle shapes discipline and keeps time on track.  Balancing these keeps me happy, inventive and productive.

 

If you have the itch to add a side hustle to your life, here are some tips…

  1. Weigh the pros and cons of added pressure.

    No matter how enjoyable, a side hustle means extra work and less free time. Preparing for my house show means exercise, socializing and friends take a backseat. Reflect on what you’ll gain by investing your time in a new endeavor, and what you may lose. Is the side hustle worth it, whether in the money it makes you or the pleasure it provides? 

  2. Set clear expectations.

    Be open with yourself, your family, and your main job about your side hustle commitments. From day one at my company, Bridgeforce, I was open about my side hustle and the days I would need to take off for it. My family knows that there are times I will be busy with art and can’t devote my full attention to them. Clear expectations like this allow for balance while minimizing stress. 

  3. Be flexible and gentle with yourself.

    Self-imposed rules can hinder enjoyment, so even if you set a schedule or make a plan, allow for adjustments. I want to continue to do an excellent job for my company and our clients, so there are times when my painting schedule has to shift. There are days when I don’t complete as much as I’d planned or end up backtracking. Instead of letting my own rigid expectations and add stress, I try to remember that this journey should be fun and gratifying! 

  4. Build a support network.

    Odds are, you’re going to need help. Finding family, friends, and colleagues that you can count on can make or break your success. My work colleagues pitch in to give me time off when I need it, so I don’t have to worry about the clients at my main hustle. My family plays an active role in art show prep and keeps our household running smoothly, even when our living room becomes a gallery! This collective effort eases the load. 

  5. Keep some “just for fun” hobbies.

    Don’t try to make everything a side hustle. Find joy outside of work pursuits. I have other hobbies I enjoy, including visiting my children at college, reading fiction, and spending time on the lake. Jobs and side hustles should complement your life, not overshadow it. Avoid overwhelming yourself and missing out on life’s other pleasures. 


Juggling a side hustle, despite its time and energy demands, can be incredibly rewarding. In my case, my artistic pursuits allow me to nurture genuine passion alongside advancing my business career. While it's undoubtedly challenging, the rewards far surpass what either element alone could provide.

 

Bridgeforce was a generous sponsor of Women in Consumer Finance 2023. They support the personal and professional development of women in financial services and beyond.