Side hustling has remained a popular, fun, and lucrative pastime throughout the generations, but it's increasingly prolific in the 21st century. What could be more valuable than the opportunity to whittle down debt, stash away savings, or afford occasional luxuries? For gig workers like independent contractors and freelancers, the answer includes everything from the lure of freedom to the chance to chase lifelong dreams.

Undeniably, side gigs have their challenging aspects. They take time, after all, and success isn't guaranteed. But the upsides of turning penchants into subsidiary employment can be downright life-changing, bursting piggy banks aside.

Interested in becoming a side worker or starting a hobby-related business? Below are eight compelling reasons that people across the world are dipping their toes into the ever-growing gig economy waters.

1. You could set yourself up to advance in a new career. 

Those who don't understand the gig economy landscape often see it as a dead-end boulevard. That's hardly the hustle reality. In fact, countless companies have been built out of side pursuits, not to mention celebrity empires. Though you can't expect to immediately gain entry into another profession the moment you start gigging, you may discover in-roads to other industries if you consistently wow stakeholders. 

2.  You get to "try before you buy," career-wise.

Let's say you're intrigued by a different role in a different field but aren't quite ready to quit your day job. By taking on a side hustle in the other industry, you eliminate the need to make a full-time commitment. You'll still get a sense of what it would be like if you worked in another field, but you can remain where you are. Of course, if you fall in love with your side gig profession, you might want to take the next step and seek training or a formal internship. However, you're not locked in when you're just working on the side.

3. You may enjoy your day job more-and do a better job, too!

Do you feel stale and uninspired when you walk into your office? A side gig could change all that by giving you fresh eyes and a revived perspective. Right now, only 35% of employees told Gallup they were engaged on the job. If you're in the two-thirds of folks who find work life bland, becoming a freelancer or independent contractor can re-engage and re-invigorate you. For instance, if you become a direct seller for a company, you might learn innovative ways of marketing that you could incorporate into your full-time work. Consequently, you'll be more valuable to teammates and potentially move up the corporate ladder.

4. Your personal and professional network could skyrocket.

Many adults complain that they don't have time to build their corporate networks, let alone meet peers socially. Yet forming relationships is critical. As Mayo Clinic research points out, friendships improve individuals' mental and physical health. During your side hustle, you'll find yourself involved with a variety of communities and people, maybe ones you would never have met without gigging. The longer you remain in the gig economy, the more people you'll encounter, and the wider your circle of influence and support will become.

5. You will grow to be a more well-rounded person.

We all have untapped talents and facets of our personalities that won't bubble to the surface without a catalyst. Taking on a side work challenge forces you to learn skills you might never have needed before, such as web coding, sales funnel planning, or supply chain management. Though you may not always enjoy being forced out of your comfort zone, you'll discover that tackling new tasks becomes less nerve-wracking. Over time, your experience and knowledge base will expand, giving you added dimension and confidence.

6. You could add more meaning to your life.

Does it seem like every day is the same? You may be without a purpose. Side hustles can ignite a sense of belonging in your heart and spirit, which may end up helping you live a longer life according to scientists studying the advantages of purposeful living. For example, you may have a cause you've always wanted to get involved with. Why not seek out ways to turn it into a side venture? That way, you can pursue your passion regularly and mix up your routine in a meaningful way. 

7. You'll become a role model for others.

An interesting University of Chicago study revealed that kids of entrepreneurial parents were 20% more apt to take up an entrepreneurial lifestyle, too. As a side hustler, you might just encourage the kids-and maybe adults-in your world to engage in adventurous pursuits, too. As they see you succeed, they'll feel empowered to potentially do likewise. Don't be too shocked if your partner decides to join the gig economy after seeing how beneficial it's been for you.

8. You will learn to recognize and jettison emotional vampires.

Even if you only spend a few hours a week on your side hustle, you won't have as much time for things that don't matter. And that includes toxic relationships. Your need to balance your gigging with other responsibilities will naturally lower your tolerance for negativity. Plus, you'll stop saying "yes" to everyone. Learning how to stand up for yourself and your ideas without giving in is a wonderful attribute that will only serve you well in all aspects of your personal and professional development.

The gig economy is on the upswing. Individuals from every generational cadre from Baby Boomers to Generation Z have turned side hustling into a normal way of life. If you're intrigued by what gigging might be like, why not jump into the mix? The decision could be the best one you make this year.