Should we bother being self employed?
Is it my turn to do this…..again?!
Self employment isn’t easy.
Some days it can be tough being self employed. Your desk looms in a dark corner, the work keeps piling high but somehow the ‘flow’ just isn’t happening. Everything is like climbing uphill or swimming against the tide.
So why DO so many of us want to work for ourselves? We can talk about vague concepts such as ‘freedom’ and ‘balance’ but if you look at it closely there are also quite a few downsides. We don’t get paid when we take time off. We actually don’t get paid for a lot of the time we put in! We often work really long hours with no team to banter with and no managerial direction to fall back on. We are on our own, and when we stop being productive, creative and motivated the bills stop being paid.
The secret to work satisfaction
Why does self employment remain the only real choice for so many of us? Why are we turning our back on the comfort and security of full time work in exchange for conditions we wouldn’t tolerate if we worked for someone else?
Here’s the secret. It’s because you need to feel in control.
Who’s really in control?
The truth about choices
Control has been proved to be the most influential factor in whether you are happy at work or not. But an important distinction here is that it’s not even actual control. Here’s the twist – the crucial element is perceived control. What we value in work and every other key facet of our lives is to FEEL like we are in charge of own destiny, even if this is contrary to the actual reality of the situation.
When you are working on your business at 10pm on a Friday night it probably won’t grate in the same way as it would when your boss insists you stay late to get the job done. Although you might rather be in the pub in both situations, the former means you can get your coat and head out if you want to. You have the authority to assess the consequences and act according to your own best judgement. The latter means you have to answer to someone else; your decisions aren’t really your own. The end result in both circumstances may be the same and you stay working until midnight. But what got you there is massively different.
People who believe they are in control expect their actions to affect outcomes. Think about how important this is. The opposite is to feel helpless and powerless – which interestingly lies at the root of depressive illness.
So if we consider that self employed folk are more inclined to feel effective and powerful, what is it that you do with that? How have you made the most of your freedom? Are you controlling your destiny, fulfilling your dreams? Or are you still behaving as if you have a boss sitting at your shoulder?
Change and unfamiliarity aren’t naturally comfortable conditions for most of us. We tend to return to the same seat as we sat in yesterday, or use the same toilet cubicle we know worked out ok last time because we like things to be predictable; it makes us feel safer. So when we quit our jobs to work for ourselves it can reduce any anxiety if we keep things similar to what we are used to. We set up a desk in our spare room; take no more than a couple of weeks holiday a year; work 9-5; persevere with a frustrating task even when we really aren’t in the mood. It’s just what we are used to doing.
Are you the boss in your business?
But it’s worth remembering that we chose to work for ourselves because we are powerful. We are in control of what today and every day looks like. We don’t have to settle and we don’t have to submit. We have choices, and even if some of them have to be compromises, not all of them should be. We’ve earned that because we threw away the security blanket when we ditched having someone else be responsible for us.
So what are you doing with your freedom? Are you really in control? When you quit your job, what was it you were reaching for? If you haven’t achieved it yet, maybe it’s time to take back control. It’s been yours to use all along.
How important is it to you to be in control?
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