If you believe the hype of many of the personal development blogs out there, figuring out your passion, kissing the 9-5 world goodbye and working for yourself is the best way to find happiness.
But is it really?
Self-employment has some serious drawbacks. Even if you put yourself on a schedule, you never really leave work because you carry work around in your head at all times. You don’t get paid vacations, unless you earn well enough to pay yourself to take time off, and if you want retirement savings or a health plan you need to pay for them yourself. And don’t get me started on the non-passion related stuff, such as administration, marketing, sales and customer service!
So, if self-employment is so bad, why do we do it? And why do so many of us advocate it as the be all and end all of happiness?
In my case, I can’t find happiness anywhere else. I’ve tried. Believe you me, I would love to be someone who could find happiness and fulfillment in a more regular work environment.
But I’m just too independent and I hate being pinned down to a schedule. I’d rather struggle to make rent doing my own thing than have lots of money doing something for which I have no passion.
Fortunately, however, not everyone is like this. For some, the passion is in working in a regularly-scheduled environment, for others the passion exists outside work altogether and work exists solely to pay the bills and as long as it’s not a hateful job, it can be ignored.
How do you figure out which is you? Are you a born entrepreneur frustrated in a scheduled job fulfilling someone else’s dream? Did circumstances lead you to strike out on your own when really you’d be much happier doing your thing (whatever that is) for someone else and let them worry about all the non-thing related business stuff? Or maybe you’ve never thought about your career very much and have suddenly woken up wondering what they heck you’re doing.
Well, let’s look at it from three points of view (Being You, Being Clear, and Being in Balance) and see what we discover about ourselves.
1. Being You
Jonathan Mead from Illuminated Mind regularly admonishes people to ignore the advice of others. I agree – do what works for you, not what works for others. And to do that, you need to know who you are.
I’m an independent type. I always have been. My mother says that from the moment I was born I started preparing to move out. With a personality like that, it’s no wonder I find it hard to work for anyone else.
2. Being Clear
If you read any personal development blogs (and I know you do or you wouldn’t be here), then you know all about this one. It refers to your clarity about your passion and goals.
Passion doesn’t have to be related to your job at all. If you do work with your passion that’s great, but I feel that those of us who do are incredibly privileged and fortunate.
Following your passion, whatever it is, will have consequences. My passion for writing led me to a no-income situation for a while that’s changing very slowly. My sister, the Urban Panther, recently decided to take a demotion and a pay cut to continue following her passion.
Say, for example, your passion is gardening – you love to garden, but only on your own garden. The idea of doing other people’s gardens just doesn’t appeal. Your goal, therefore, might be to have the best garden on the block. To support this gardening habit, you’ll need a job.
Likely the type of job doesn’t really matter, although to get those rare flowering shrubs and those precision shears you’ll have to have a job that brings you in some decent money. So, you choose to be an employee in a field that offers a good income possibility.
3. Being in Balance
Balance is often about knowing what you don’t want as much as what you do want. In fact, I’d say being able to say no to something is probably one of the most powerful things we can do. It’s one of the first things a child learns. “No” separates us from the world and helps us determine who we are in relation to everyone else.
Although I’m not a big Law of Attraction, Michael Losier in his Law of Attraction book uses an Abraham-Hicks concept called Clarity through Contrast. By knowing what we don’t want, we are closer to figuring out what we do want.
In my case, I didn’t want to wear a suit, directly make someone else money or be tied to a schedule someone else set. That pretty much eliminated me from most regular jobs.
Putting them all together
Tie together my self-knowing, my passions and goals, and my awareness of what I don’t want and bingo! I have a pretty clear idea of whether I’m suited for working for someone else. In my case it’s a resounding Not On Your Life!
Now look at your current career path. How well do your personality, passions, goals and dislikes match what you currently do? Be specific in tying each of the four clarities into your current job. And if they don’t match, ask yourself why not? What would rather be doing?
Finally, when you’ve realized what it is you want career-wise, do it. To hesitate or procrastinate would not be at all authentic. And who wants to live out of balance with themselves?
What are your thoughts and experiences on the topic of self-employment vs. 9-5 work? Please share them in the comments below.
Photo by Mark Sebastian