I think everybody should have at least one side project.
It forces you to think in the consequences of your decisions and assume the responsability of sucess or failure
It keeps you focused on looking for the perfection while you have to be aware of being pragmatic.
It helps to balance a good design and a good implementation
Side projects are personal, so you learn the importance of being proud of what you do.
Side projects are pressure-free, so you learn to enjoy of every step of the process.
My side projects may never succeed but I won’t keep on working on them because they help me to love my job, to go on discovering new things, to settle down knowledge and to maintain the illusion.
Does this mean that your daily job doesn’t give you the same kind of experience?
Absolutely not, time and budget factors are key to keep it real. I strongly believe that productivity is necessary as a way of taking the most of your dedicated time at work. Besides, work it’s the perfect team environment to proof all what you get from your side projects.
So yes, love what you do, do what you want, and collect what you get with proud and satisfaction.