First, some context: One of the most common challenges that people bring to my table is around the job interview.
These people are in "career transition." They've been let go, or cut the cord themselves, dissatisfied with the repetitive drudgery that's routinely on offer in "the workplace." They are tired, bored, and often accustomed to being under-appreciated.
You can hear this, and so many other layers of resignation, in their voice.
In these conversations, I try to meet the person where they are and address what THEY see as their challenges: how to find the right opportunities, get in the right headspace, transcend the power dynamics, tell an authentic and relevant story, position yourself as a "good fit," negotiate a great offer, etc...
But sometimes, casually toward the end, they'll say something like:
"I wish I could just be my own boss and do something I love, like you do. What you do seems pretty fun."
When they say this, I feel obligated to confess that it's not all candy and rainbows and gift-wrapping cats for Christmas -- it's WORK to hustle for yourself, to stay motivated and adaptive, to keep growing once you've found something that works. Not to mention the feast/ famine cycle of cash flow and how that plays tricks on your general feelings of security and self-worth, or the mind-numbing administrative work of data entry and website maintenance.
And the question marks! Countless and never-ending. Am I doing this right? How do I know if I'm doing it right? When is it time to hire a project manager? What's the difference between a project manager and a virtual assistant? When do you hire a coach? When do you FIRE a coach? (More on that in a future post.)
Oh -- and have we mentioned taxes? Or health insurance, for that matter?
It would be misleading and disingenuous, I believe, to encourage those who see only the greener grass to romanticize what it's like to work for yourself.
Not everyone is cut out for it. Plenty of people prefer routine and stability. Not everyone can be comfortable amid so much risk and uncertainty.
And yet -- there's no doubt about it -- it IS fun!
I distinctly remember the days when I had to get up at 6am, blearily comb my closet for something unwrinkled and stain-free, sit in traffic for over an hour, exchange the car seat for another seat, and spend the next 8 hours at a desk doing things a monkey could do while cursing Excel and vehemently hoping my narcissistic boss had better things to do than come over and talk to me.
And then having to do the same thing all over again the next day!
I can't even describe how much my spirit suffered in those days.
It's like if you took a beautiful greenish-yellow banana, and left it in a dark cupboard for months. That's what my spirit felt like: mushy and brown. (Maybe you can relate?)
In comparison, the headaches I encounter now seem like par for the course -- required just to prove I'm still living in the real world alongside other real humans.
And the benefits -- once you learn how to manage the stories you tell yourself about what's going to happen in the future if you don't answer that email RIGHT NOW -- far outweigh the stress, in my opinion. Honestly, it's amazing to make your own schedule, design your own offerings, pick who you work with, and ask yourself questions like:
"Which things will bring me the MOST satisfaction today?"
"Which things need to be prioritized today, so that I can be care-free in Death Valley this weekend?"
"How can I best take advantage of this 3-hour block of uninterrupted time?"
"Do I want to work with this person, or am I getting a funny feeling about it?"
"Do I want to go for a walk now, or in a couple hours when it's warmer and sunnier?"
"Do I have time to make myself a Mexican brunch before that 10am call?"
"Whose expectations would I have to manage, in order to work from Mexico at the end of the month?"
(As you can tell, I really like Mexican food. I would squeeze lime on your birthday cake if you let me.)
But I don't say these things on the phone, because that would be like rubbing garlic salt into their fresh wounds and laughing about it. Instead, I tell them the truth, which is that it's not entirely as romantic as we tend to assume.
But inside, I harbor a secret.
And the secret is that I ALSO want them to start doing what I do -- in their own unique way -- NOW, before everyone else gets up to speed and the economy as we know it has changed.
The secret is that I am totally biased toward wanting to help people build their own platforms and make their own rules -- because soon, it might not seem like such a luxury to do so.
I'm talking about the fact that by 2020, as much as 50% of the US workforce is predicted to consist of independent contractors.
This means that as the conceptual economy dawns and the industrial economy recedes further in the rearview, more and more of us will be forced to recognize that job security is increasingly a thing of the past, and that it's on US to create the opportunities we seek.
And when this happens, the burden will shift -- from needing to articulate your value once or twice every few years in an interview context, to suddenly needing to do this every day, in multiple contexts...
... in an economy where EVERYONE is a potential partner or client.
Believe me: it's a different game altogether. An infinite game, in fact.
So, if you've ever dreamed of how nice it would be to build your own platform and be your own boss and make your own rules -- now is the time.
We've still got about 4 years left, before the scales tip.
And I can't wait to see -- what will YOU do, with your one wild and precious life?