Becoming my own boss is one of the best things I’ve ever done. It was also one of the most surprising. Here are some things I learned about myself when I became self-employed…
// I’M NOT AS LAZY AS I THINK I AM
When I was in traditional employment, I thought I was the laziest person in the entire world. I just never seemed to feel motivated, I had absolutely zero energy, and even the smallest tasks seemed insurmountable to me. It was only when I started working for myself that I realised just how hard I’m capable of working when I’m genuinely passionate and interested in what I do. The problem with traditional employment – for me at least – was that it all seemed so pointless. Sure, I always did the job to the best of my ability, but I didn’t really CARE about it the way I care about the business I’ve created for myself. These days, I work much longer hours than I ever did in a “real” job – but I’m much happier as a result of it.
// MONEY ISN’T MY MAIN MOTIVATOR
Like many people who decide to work for themselves, starting my own business marked the start of many years of being absolutely broke. Before I actually did it, I’d have assumed this would have been completely intolerable to me: I thought I really needed all of the material things I spent my money on, and that I couldn’t possibly live without them. As it turns out, though, while I DO still love to shop, and I’m not going to lie about it, I WAS able to survive those lean years: mostly because I realised that there was something more important to me than material possessions, and, as cringeworthy as it feels to type it, that thing is freedom. Having the freedom to do what I want, and not having to answer to a boss, or fill in a timesheet, or any of the other things I used to do in my previous jobs, is worth more to me than a new pair of shoes: who knew?!
// I’M REALLY NOT A ‘PEOPLE PERSON’
When people find out I’m self-employed and work from home, their first comment is normally that I must be SO lonely being “stuck in the house” all day! Well, for one thing, there’s a big difference between working from home, and not ever being allowed to LEAVE your home, and I’m not quite sure what it is that makes people think that those of us who are self-employed are basically imprisoned in our homes. Actually, the opposite is true: now that I’m not constrained by the rules of an office, I’m able to take a walk or run errands in the middle of the day, or do anything else I like, really – so I’m far from “stuck at home”.
As for being “lonely”, meanwhile, well, my situation is different from some, in that my husband also works from home (He wears headphones while he works, though, and we’re doing totally different things, so it’s not like we’re just sitting around chatting all day…), but I can honestly say that no, I never get lonely. Actually, as a fairly extreme introvert, it’s a huge relief to me to not have to be around people all day, every day. That was one of the hardest parts of traditional employment for me: I need quite a lot of “alone” time in order to be able to function properly, and when I have to be around other people constantly, I find it quite stressful, and totally exhausting. That’s not to say I don’t ever have company, obviously: again, the flexible nature of self-employment means that I can get out of the house – or have someone round for coffee, say – anytime I like, and there’s also evenings and weekends. While I’m not a complete loner, though, I’ve never had a problem with being on my own – which I guess makes my job the perfect choice for me!
Anyone else out there self-employed? What has it taught you?
You don’t have to publish this, but have you considered you might be an asperger syndrome? I was diagnosed just months ago, and I’ve been following your personal blog for years. Aspergers are introverts who ussually get exhausted around interacting with people for hours, have anxiety issues, and feel better and more relaxed if their environment is neat and tidy. This is absurdly simplifying, but ever since my diagnosis both me and my hubby understand better my quircks, and the way my brain works, and it’s made me happier in my skin. Thanks for reading this
I definitely don’t have Aspergers (I’ve been seeing a psychologist for a year now to deal with my anxiety, and there is no suggestion of anything like that), and to be honest, I’m not very keen on being internet-diagnosed with stuff like this – I know you mean well, but not all introverts have Aspergers, or anything like it and it could really upset someone to get a comment like this. You’re right, it is absurdly simplifying, and incredibly inappropriate.
I’m also self-employed, for very similar reasons (introversion, preferring to work alone, finding home a much more comfortable work environment), and I think the main thing I’ve learnt has been time management, which I was utterly terrible at before – I was always that person at uni pulling all-nighters to write essays the day before hand-in. It’s been a bit of a slow process, as it’s so easy to procrastinate with nobody breathing down your neck, but it has got to the stage where I feel like I’ve cracked it now!