Learning specific methods to succeed as a freelancer or an entrepreneur is escapism if you are still caught up in the mindset of a prostitute. You might be inspired by the Four Hour Work Week and legions of ‘lifestyle design’ bloggers offering tips on seizing destiny manifest in Thailand–or simply working for yourself–but they’ll remain abstractions to you if you still see doing things you dislike for a salary as acceptable.
Here’s a list of qualities and attitudes that might mark the psychological shift to assuming responsibility for one’s own ends, rather than unhappily being the means to the ends of others. I know the implied scope of my list feels larger than a professional redefinition. These ideas have been foundational for me as I’ve reset myself toward a sort of vertical integration of my whole life, in an effort to put energy into micro-economic constructs of my own devising, as it were.
Fortunately–or hopefully–most people are not actively dissatisfied with employment per se, especially in light of the solvency it affords them. There are times in life where economic self-determination might be less attractive and maybe less appropriate than it would be before we have kids for instance, or before we are inspired to pursue an idea whose time has come, for us.
So to be clear: most employed people probably have no need of this article. Are they prostitutes? Do they have a choice? Who am I to say? Doing it for money doesn’t make you a prostitute. Hating it and continuing to do it just might though. Take it from me.
Internalizing each of these ideas was part my own process of seizing a post-employment life.
1) A willingness to embrace the next phase might not push you to move unless it’s coupled with an active, consuming dissatisfaction with working jobs just for a paycheck. That dissatisfaction might not lead you to change either, and I wouldn’t suggest seeking it out by the way. But if it has you, if your larger intentions are set irreconcilably against your circumstances, choose to see it not as a curse but as an exit catalyst.
2) Are you ready to give your blood to execute on ideas you believe have merit, with no assurance that you’re correct? Do you trust your capacity to construct a viable tangent? If not, if prostitution has beaten the necessary psychological self-reliance out of you, then better to face the fact that you’re not ready to create your own opportunities. Yet.
3) The opportunity cost of shrugging (i.e. not executing) scares you more than turning your back on a paycheck. Are you more afraid of never hitting a home run than you are of striking out fairly regularly?
4) Consider well that for which you settle. Satisfaction and comfort are fine goals, but don’t use them to paper over a marginal situation and distract yourself from changing your objective circumstances. If a better you knows you need a change, this will be a problem in your reflective moments until the day you die.
5) No one cares. Why is this hugely liberating and actionable? It removes erroneous motivational triggers and permits you to focus on what matters to you. Other people are so wrapped up in their obsessions that your extra 10 pounds, perfect lawn or job title doesn’t register with them. It’s great news.
6) Even if it takes years to get the psychological and practical groundwork in place for them, moments of redefinition requiring a “yes” or “no” answer will arrive which make it impossible to return to an earlier life. “No” may be the appropriate response, but make sure it doesn’t come out of your mouth because you aren’t ready, or simply afraid.
7) Things never really go according to plan anyway so be prepared to jettison all spreadsheets if you catch a whiff of an opportunity to do it rightnow. Failing in accelerated arrival is better than prostrating yourself to the seductive comfort of further preparation. Execution is infused with its own grace; it is its own justification.
8 ) There is no sin in getting up every day and going to a job. Some people make a career of it. And while “getting the job done” while assuming your position has been conceived for us as a virtue, never confuse pleasing your employer with adequately addressing the opportunities latent in your life. If you suspect that there might be more to your life than “the Job”, even if you’ve had a single job for decades, well guess what little bird? It may be time to fly.
9) One way or the other you create all the doors. Even when presented with huge, no-brainer opportunity, you had already done what it would take to put yourself in this position. Do that more.
10) ‘Busy’ is not the goal. The goal is progress. Busy is something that people watching the clock do to distract themselves from jobs they dislike. You must instead embrace efficiency to free up time to be the opposite of distracted, i.e. focused, and create conditions that provoke and facilitate focus in you, most likely while keeping others busy.
11) If the time comes when career satisfaction and the products of your success seem morbidly inadequate, don’t let fear of the unknown have you convincing yourself that they are compensation enough for refusing new, larger directions.
12) After tasting any success in business you’ll feel debased by awards and other morale-building exercises many employers use to provoke feelings of well-being in their employees.
13) A wise man said that you’ll either give yourself permission to embrace a better purpose, or find a ‘boss’ to assign you one. A corollary is that you will have moments of indecision, no one to blame, and ultimately only yourself to lean on.
14) Everything you do is a decision to expand and improve the basic terms of your life, or a choice to decline to do so. A better you is engaged in continual battle, and the forces of inertia, fear, laziness are strong. You are not absolved.