What It Takes to Be Self-Employed (and Not Burn Out)
Lessons I learned from quitting my 9–5.
Self-employment is a dream that we think will give us the freedom we want. And for the most part, it’s pretty freaking awesome.
But there are a few things you need to know.
I quit my job in the middle of a COVID lockdown to write online. I was so excited at the thought of being free.
Wake up when you want, do what you want, no rigid schedule.
I thought I knew what self-employment meant, especially when it came to having the right mindset.
I was wrong, and I wish I knew this before I quit. I thought it was going to be a walk in the park.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
The illusion of self-employment
You’re feeling confident and super inspired — heck, maybe your side hustle is bringing in some extra cash alongside your 9–5.
You’re exuding confidence about where things are heading, and you feel prepared.
“Everything is going to be amazing when I quit!” you’re envisioning a bright future — no rules or boss.
All you can think about is how free you’ll feel. How great it’ll be not to have to take orders anymore, to sleep in or go at your own pace.
Think you have it together? Just wait
The night I handed my resignation in, I cried in the fetal position on the couch. It wasn’t a dream anymore; it was the real deal.
You’re about to become the boss, and suddenly an avalanche of responsibility hits you.
Being drip-fed a secure paycheck? Not anymore.
And the daily social interactions (and spontaneous coffee dates) you had with your colleagues? Goodbye to that too.
Your brain will start thinking about every single positive thing you loved about your job. The brain likes familiarity and predictability — even though you were unhappy.
But uncertainty? It’s fucking scary.
You’ll subconsciously continue functioning as an employee
3 weeks into working for myself, I pushed myself so hard trying to stick to a rigid schedule, I ended up with a week-long headache.
The biggest mistake people make is trying to replicate their old workday — without realising it.
Writer Brianna Wiest explains it perfectly,
“You knew that leaving your full-time job for something less predictable — a freelance life, a small business — was the right choice. However, because you’d been conditioned to believe the 9–5 was “safe,” you unconsciously recreated the structure of the job that was suffocating you in the first place.”
I was trying to fill my time with ‘work’ between the hours of 9 am to 5 pm — the urge of needing to feel busy was so strong.
Society tells us we need to take action all day every; otherwise, we’re lazy. I believed this, so I punished myself when I tried resting or didn’t follow my schedule for the day.
It’s a load of BS conditioning.
When you work for yourself, you can do whatever the hell you want, when you want. That’s the beauty of it.
It’s the reason why you quit your job to pursue your dreams—the freedom to follow your heart and your rules.
But we don’t realise we’re getting in our own way.
Following your natural energy will give you the best results
You don’t need to follow a rigid schedule if it doesn’t feel right for you. You don’t need to be on the go 24/7 if you don’t feel like it.
Some days you might need to take a break, that’s okay. The most important thing is to stop punishing yourself for not doing enough — or even for doing too much.
Once I learned about my Human Design type (Manifestor), I realised that my natural energy comes and goes in waves, unlike other types.
(Human Design is a game-changer for the way you work, click here for a free chart.)
I’ve learned to listen to my body, rather than pushing myself into exhaustion just because I think I have to be a certain way.
Everyone is different.
My advice? Do shit randomly to experiment and see what works for you.
Follow a schedule, hour by hour, and then don’t follow one at all.
Wake up at 6 am and work. Sleep in till 10 am and then do work.
Take breaks when you feel like it, not when you think you should (remember: you’re not an employee anymore!)
Your productivity will improve when you stop punishing yourself and start listening to what your body is telling you.
Mix it up and see what works for you.
Self-employment can be hard when you haven’t peeled back the layers of conditioning — but once you increase your self-awareness and work through a few things, it’s pretty awesome.
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© Kathrine Meraki
(Originally posted on Medium)