I quit my job about 2 months ago to take a break, to jump out of a moving train that seemed to be going forward with or without me doing much. I had a few ideas of what I wanted to do next, but most importantly, I wanted to feel like I have control over my days and over my actions. I wanted to feel the rapid and direct impact of my own choices. 2 months in and I have some observations of how this feels. Apologies if some of them do feel like “duh!”. I think this is one of those insights that we kind of know, but we don’t really know until we experience them.
I’ll start with the not so great parts …
You can easily lose the structure in your life
You finally got complete control of your life, you say? You work on stuff you care about and suddenly it doesn’t feel like a job if you’re enjoying your work, right? It’s only a small step away from working any time of the day..and night. Not being accountable to anyone and choosing your own schedule can be great, also destructive. I’ve been struggling myself to keep a discipline and haven’t yet cracked it.
It feels lonely sometimes
You are working from home, coffee shops, restaurants, but still on your own. After a while, it can start feeling lonely. I guess the secret is to socialize as much as possible. Target meetups and events where you can meet people who can also help you in your business. Another way you can be around peers is to find coworking spaces or work alongside friends who are in the same situation as you are.
You get distracted easily
With so many choices of things you can do (and so much creativity), you can easily de-focus. Temptations to do this and try that, sometimes completely out of your scope or even domain, they lurk at every corner. You will give in to some because “it will only take me 2 mins” or “this might be interesting to try” or simply because they are more comfortable than whatever you are doing. Unless you have a structure and a system in place, these things will just slow you down or make you detour.
No more comfort
Yeah, everything is new and nothing you feel comfortable with. If you’re used to being in front of a computer all day, then you’ll find yourself in need to use a lot of your social skills. If you were used to selling, you’ll find yourself doing product development and marketing. If you were used to doing marketing, you will find yourself doing software development haha. Maybe not really development, but at least using some kind of wordpress or wix to just develop a landing page. You get the idea!
You are nobody
This is the most horrific one. As opposed to before when you had a role and a status attached to yourself – within a group and in your mirror – now you are starting from scratch. You are every role in your own team and you are a nobody with a “crazy” idea to the outside world. You barely have any data to convince anyone that you know what you are talking about.
And now the great…
You start appreciating any help from others
Having worked most of my life in established companies, as part of different teams, working on my own is definitely a big change. All the help I was receiving “for free” when employed, obviously, I was taking for granted 😛 . All the skills, talent, can-do attitude and urgency you find in the people around you in a job is now gone. Only once you’re on your own and you genuinely realize you need help to achieve anything, do you also acknowledge how important community is.
You start appreciating the moving pieces in a working company
I think we take a lot of things for granted when we are employed. Like with everything in life, we tend to not appreciate what we have and just complain about the smallest things we don’t have. We forget that a group of people worked really hard to set up the company you work for and even though it seems like your company is magically making money, it is because of all the hard work people before you put in. Things happen by “magic” because that momentum has been established through hard work and it is only through human intervention that keeps the machine oiled and moving. So, be happy you are part of that mechanism, even though you are just a small wheel or bolt. Appreciate the company is making enough money for your salary and that through the “magic” in place, you are ensured the security of tomorrow.
You get to know yourself better
If you’ve always had a comfortable job working within a team, you don’t know how you deal with restriction or even abundance (it can go both ways). Whether it’s financial, time-related, social, you most probably have not experienced a lack or abundance of any of that. Starting on your own will in most cases put you in those situations and you’llbe susprised to find a new you.
You see how much it was you and how much the rest of the world
Being part of a team/company/group always gives you the excuse of something not working out because of something/someone else. Some things really don’t fall under your control. Well, running your own business suddenly is in big part under your control. You make the right choices, things happen for you. You make the wrong choices or you don’t make any, you will see the impact quite quickly. Consequences are generated by you. No more excuses.
Lots of choices
Suddenly you can do any of 100 things (sometimes even more). It’s great, just make sure you don’t get distracted!
You learn to survive
In times of restriction, you get creative and veeeery resourceful on how you can bring money in.
You meet a lot of new people
You do a lot of networking, which means you get to meet like-minded people. I find this very interesting. There is a whole world out there of people who try to make it on their own. They might struggle, they might succeed only in 1% of the cases, but they sure are interesting people to talk to.