“Smell ya later losers.”
That’s what I immaturely thought on my last day of a job. I had coffee with my two bosses who I loved about as much as finding dog poop on my shoe.
I smiled it out. Said the goodbyes. Did the high-fives. And expected to live a life of fame and fortune by the jacuzzi.
The reality differs a fair bit.
Accountability is hard
What nobody tells you about being your own boss is it’s easy to get lazy.
Waking up is an option, not a must. Replying to emails is easy to stop doing. Getting distracted is a piece of piss. Youtube tv shows can feel like customer research, and social media is h*roin if you’re not careful.
I found I had to get good at self-motivation.
That meant being good at getting into a flow state and knowing my mission clearly. That mission required some fine-tuning, too, to remove the buzzwords and cliches and make it a tangible one.
All this sounds easy but it took a lot longer than I wanted. Some days I’ve nailed my accountability and kept my own promises.
But there are still times when I suck at accountability. For the last two weeks I’ve had the flu and been a lazy ass. I needed a week off. The second week was more of an excuse.
Personal accountability is more of a scale. Some weeks you nail it. Other weeks you go too far to the dark side and need to realign.
Working for yourself will never be perfect.
Loneliness can find you
Freelance writer Zulie Rane talked about this.
She says she loves her lowest paying freelance client, not because of how much they pay her, but because of the colleagues she has. They give her access to a Slack and she can join their meetings.
You wouldn’t think this is needed — but trust me, working for yourself can get lonely as hell. I have my bad days for sure.
The solution is to proactively fight off the loneliness — and to expect loneliness. I’m working on joining a WeWork to operate from.
My main goal is to attend their networking events and learn face-to-face what other people like me are doing. Plus, live events are a great place to collect stories and observe humans. It can make for great writing.
Addictions are easier to succumb to
Everyone is addicted to something.
I certainly have mine, some public and some private. For example, I’m addicted to deep-fried foods.
When I had a job it was hard to get tempted by junk food. Now I work from home it’s easy for me to walk to the shops and binge on KFC like I just don’t care. A lack of rules can turn you insane.
Just like with loneliness, you need to be proactive with your addictions if working for yourself. During the week I try to live a monk lifestyle.
On the weekends I let my hair down and eat the greasiest vegan burgers money can buy. Addictions get harder, not easier.
Overworking is easier
Office culture makes start and finish times somewhat the same.
When everyone is walking out the door, it’s easy to use it as a bookmark in your own day and pack up everything and go home.
When you’re working for yourself there’s no separation between home life and work life. Every day is work.
Either work or don’t eat, as I like to say.
This can easily lead to overworking if you’re not careful. I’ve certainly burned the candle at both ends and pissed my wife off.
Now I operate a fixed schedule & no longer work weekends. I try to finish at normal times and enjoy Friday evenings like normal office workers do.
A variable income makes you stronger
A salary made me lazy.
I knew the money would always come in so I took it for granted. But the money was never enough to do anything big. I could afford to live in a cheap apartment and drive a Honda Civic.
My job could never pay for a normal house in Australia and the mortgage needed to buy it though. I got sick of living just slightly above broke.
Working for myself has meant my income varies wildly. Some months I make 6-figures and other months I feel like I’m gonna starve. The mental challenge that creates is an interesting one.
- It keeps me humble
- It forces me to have cash reserves
- It helps me be less of a happy-go-lucky consumer
Overall I’ve made a lot more money working for myself than any job.
And every ounce of work I do goes into an online business I own which has value. It could one day be sold or run by someone else and pay me dividends. These options don’t exist with a salary.
If you stop trading time for money, the income stops and you risk being out on your ass with no toilet paper. In some ways a salary is safe, in other ways it’s one of the riskiest decisions you can ever make.
In my old job, every time a recession hit or the economy looked down, I worried I’d be fired. I’d end up working weekends to try and please my boss and reduce my chances of being fired.
It was a horrible way to live. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
Variable income is harder to get your head around, but in the long run, I believe it’s a much better strategy — especially if you don’t want to be working hard your entire life.
Passionate work is so much easier to do
Most of my 9–5 jobs have been in banking.
I thought I cared about the industry but not really. I lied to myself like many college graduates do. Banking was an alibi, a band-aid for what I really wanted to do but hadn’t yet discovered.
Since I quit my job to dedicate my life to writing, I’ve found myself being much more passionate. That passion has translated into energy. And a high-energy life is easier to live.
I don’t need to escape because what I now do for work doesn’t feel like work. It feels like play. If I had a day off from work I’d be doing exactly what I do on a normal workday. It feels weird to type that … but it’s true.
Even though the “follow your passion” advice is cliche as hell, it really is spot on. Do something you love or die trying to find it.
Don’t settle. Don’t accept second best.
Only one motivation keeps the dream alive
It sounds weird but what keeps me going is the thought of returning to a job. It’s the only motivation I need.
Despite the downsides of working for myself, I much prefer it over a fixed salary, bad boss, and a day full of being told what to do.
As long as I get to keep doing this I’m happy. So I do what needs to be done to keep the mortgage paid, baby fed, and car full of gas. Automated motivation will set you free.
2 years feels like a lifetime ago
In closing, I can’t believe it’s been 2 years.
I barely remember what it’s like to be an employee. I can’t imagine been paid less than I’m worth ever again or going to boring-ass business conferences. Or showing up for three calls in a row about revenue.
Times flies when work doesn’t feel like work anymore.
Right now I’m trying to find ways to slow time down. One of those ways is to spend less time in front of a computer.
I want to slow down so I can speed up my impact on those I work with. There is still so much to learn and I’m an amateur.
My goal for you dear reader is to live this kind of life at least once to see if it works for you. If not, you can always get another boring job 🙂