Today marks the first week that I have transitioned away from my 9-5 job into working for myself. My life has become a lot less secure. I do not know how much money I will have next week. I am not even sure if I will make any money at all for the entire month. I hope I do, of course, but if things don’t go according to plan I may even have to use my credit cards a bit. My routine has become unpredictable, it could change at a moments notice.
And it feels fantastic!
Because my time is MINE. I own it. No one can tell me what to do with it. No one can tell me when to wake up, or when to show up at work. No one can tell me when I am allowed to go home. No one can give me attitude because I take a washroom break. And no one can cut my shift short and suddenly leave my paycheck smaller without warning.
This is a powerful thing.
Today I was committed to working at a promotional booth for a company I do business with. I won’t pretend it was exciting, it was actually pretty boring, but the time went by in a flash. Why? Because I knew I could leave whenever I wanted. I knew I could wander off and buy lunch at my leisure. I knew I could do these things without consequence and without losing anyone’s respect.
When you work a 9-5 job, you are the property of your employer. Legally, they own your time. You must show up when they say you must, and you do not get to leave until they say you can leave. The opposite is not true of course, they can cancel your shift without any notice (unless you are unionized), send you home early if it’s convenient for them, and there is nothing you can do about it, except quit, in which case you no longer have an income. It’s is a classic abusive relationship. You are the battered spouse, and your employer is battering you (Incidentally, this is the true purpose of the public school system, to create willing, obedient workers).
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As human beings we naturally rebel when we are caged or restricted. It is not in our nature to be subservient to anyone. No two of us are alike, we are independent, creative beings. We have the gift of intelligent thought, self-awareness and emotion. Therefore few of us can survive in most workplaces and stay happy. This realty tends to result in one of three possible outcomes.
- Individual becomes increasingly dissatisfied with their work life. They become more and more determined to change it and regain control of their rightful property (their time, which is the same as their life). They begin to spend a great deal of time planning their escape, and as determined individuals, they do.
- Individual becomes increasingly dissatisfied with their work life. They have no idea how to change it or that there is an alternative however, and so they simply resign themselves to it and become more and more unhappy as the years go on.
- Individual becomes increasingly dissatisfied with their work life. They are mentally unstable so they “go postal” and shoot a bunch of their co-workers before turning the gun on themselves.
Now, granted, there are some people out there that do not fit into these categories. That is because they are either workaholics, or they have a rare and amazing employer that pays them incredibly well and gives them lots of freedom.
If you are not lucky enough to have such an employer then it is time to start thinking about what you can do to take your life back. Consider making a list of your talents, hobbies, and, in general, things you enjoy. Then go through the list and sort out which items have money-making potential. If you’re not sure, ask some basic questions, such as:
- Are other people doing it? If so, then there is likely great potential for making money from it. On the other hand, if too many other people are doing it, the market may be saturated.
- Will you be able to enjoy it on a consistent basis over the long-term?
- Will it be possible to increase your income over time without a significantly increased time requirement?
- Will it feel like work, or will it feel like life?
- Is this something you would do anyway, if time permitted, even if there was no money involved?
Once you have done this you should have your list narrowed down quite considerably, and you can start making plans for your new career.
Remember that it takes no more energy to work for yourself than it does to work for someone else.