Earn as Your Own Boss…Increase Your Lifetime Value
Tom Kerr writing on being self-employed…
I’ve earned as my own boss for decades.
And I’ve listened to all kinds of people who hate their jobs tell me why they don’t think they could succeed in a solo career.
First, they explain that they don’t have the self-discipline to work without a manager looking over their shoulder. They think they would just drift away into an eight-hour daydream.
I point out that it takes a lot more discipline to fight through gridlocked traffic each day – and then take orders from a boss you can’t stand – without having a meltdown.
“Don’t you get distracted?” they ask.
“I sure try to,” I admit.
I step away from my desk whenever the urge strikes. I’ll go walk in the woods, head to a coffee shop, play my piano, or sit in the porch swing and shoot the breeze with friends.
But that’s healthy, and I sit back down to work more focused, creative, and productive.
By scheduling intentional “distractions” and more fun and relaxation, I’m three times more productive than I was when confined to an office cubicle.
The other fear I hear from people is that they can’t live without the security of a steady paycheck.
Last time someone mentioned that to me I told them that I had cashed generous paychecks every single day that week…and I make more than I did when I had a “successful” corporate career.
I suffered through that dull corporate existence for years, doing work I hated. Then a friend observed, “Tom, if you spend eight hours a day doing work you don’t like, that’s one out of every three hours you live. You’ll look back and realize that you hated 33% of your life.”
That was an “Aha!” moment…and now that I live a more self-directed life, every day brings “Aha!” moments.
But please don’t let me give you the impression that life as your own boss is always going to be a bed of roses. Every rose has thorns, and life has ups and downs.
Recently, for example, a lifelong friend passed away. I needed to take a few days off, on short notice, to travel to the memorial service. Another year I had to drop everything to take care of an ailing parent…an anguished labor of love.
But I never have to ask some HR department for permission to take time off, and walking away from my desk doesn’t threaten my career or inhibit my ability to keep earning.
Most companies in America…like ones I used to work for…give you 72 hours of bereavement leave if your spouse or child dies. They also make you produce a copy of the obituary or death certificate within that timeframe, as proof you aren’t trying to cheat them. It saddens me to imagine losing someone that dear and then having to show up for work, obituary in hand like a middle school kid with a hall pass, after just 72 hours.
Fortunately, I don’t have to imagine that…because I make the rules and set the policies for myself.
While looking after my sick parent I wrote an article about the experience…because for me, putting thoughts on paper is therapeutic.
Later a doctor who specializes in elder care read what I wrote and hired me to write an entire series of articles…and to edit the book he was about to publish. His book even helped my parent’s caregivers.
You do not have to look back over your life and realize that a third or more of it was devoted to a career that made you miserable…and forced you to compromise your values and relationships.
You can live on your own terms. Then you will measure the entire 100%, knowing you spent your precious hours and years doing what mattered most to you…for and with those you love the most.
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Image: ©iStock.com/john shepherd