Forgive The ListicleNovember 28, 2014
Changes in life, six weeks into semi-self-employment:
— The days of the week lose all meaning. Weekdays and weekends and holidays mean nothing at all. Okay, not quite nothing. They signal when other people are more likely to be working or at leisure, and depending on your day-job industry they may signal when you’re more likely to be doing that. Otherwise? You have no weekends. You have no holidays. You just have days. What you do with them is up to you. The big upside of this is that you don’t have to cram leisure or housekeeping into the standard time frame allotted by the M-F 40-hour work week, nor do you have to ask anyone’s permission what to do with your time. The downside of this is that every available minute is a minute you could be, and probably should be, working.
— Some things go way faster and easier than you planned. Anyone striking out on their own — even to start a business in an industry they know well — is going to have to tackle all-new tasks and learn new skills. A number of the things I’d feared would be a big deal or a huge hurdle totally haven’t been. This website would be the biggest example, closely followed by developing the self-discipline to write every day and to focus on progressing in one piece of writing at a time.
— Everything else takes way longer than you thought it was going to. (For one, I was totally sure I’d have my new and improved site done by now.) This is particularly galling for a deadline- and task-oriented person like me, because I have to spend energy on not beating myself up for missing my own self-imposed timelines and goals even when I know I’ve been working steadily on them and haven’t been slacking.
— The feeling of a completed task has become so ecstatic that I’m worried I’m developing a new fetish. I’ve actually been counting over the past few weeks — for every item I clear from my to-do list, three more take its place! From everything I’ve read and been told, this is simply the nature of any type of self-employed venture. If you’re the only one at the job, you do everything, and oh boy, can “everything” creep fast.
— It’s way too easy to justify any expenditure as being “for the business.” While the barriers to starting an online business that provides services or intangible products (like a blog, or books) are quite low and cheap, little things add up fast, and you really need to be disciplined in thinking about what you really need now and what can wait.
— You start to resent the intrusion of your day job, and sometimes even of your family and social obligations, on your time. Then later, when you’re procrastinating or stuck on your new venture, you’ll be pissed at yourself for that resentment.
— Barely six weeks in, it’s already been completely, totally worth it. Even if this all comes crashing down, I’ve learned more about myself and learned more new skills in the last six weeks than I even imagined, and writing and selling my own books for a living feels more real and more possible with every step I take. I don’t know if that’s folly or foresight, but even if it’s the former, I genuinely can’t wait to find out. And I’ll grant that making this change is probably going a lot easier and faster for me in a DINK household than it might be in a single-person household or a family with dependents. But other single people and parents and caretakers have done it! Don’t jump blindly — do your research, make plans, make a budget, figure out the risks, get advice, get some cold water splashed in your face, prepare as thoroughly as you can. If after all that, it’s still taking over your thoughts — just do it. Doooooo ittttt. You will. not. regret it.