I’ve noticed an interesting phenomena that seems to be growing over the past several years. There’s a LOT of advice encouraging people to ‘follow their bliss’ by doing their own thing, and not bowing to the pressure of ‘getting a job.’
I think this is terrific in many ways:
- Control – You’re in control of your own destiny. Don’t feel like working on Fridays? Then don’t.
- Flexibility – The lifestyle design folks want you to build a life, not a career – and certainly not a ‘job’. If you set up your business in a way that is location-independent, you can do what you need from anywhere with an Internet connection.
- Big rewards – OK, I’m always a little skeptical about the promise of big financial gain, but there’s no denying that some of these folks are making a pretty good living.
But… I really believe that too many people are seduced by this idea. It sounds great, but working for yourself just isn’t for everyone. Here’s why:
- Not everyone is self-motivated enough to making working independently actually work. When the company I used to work for allowed the first employee to ‘telecommute’ as a test case, it was a disaster. She was never available, and it was pretty clear that she was just taking advantage of the ‘home’ time. When I asked to work remotely because I was relocating, my boss obviously had serious qualms, but he agreed to a test with me anyway. It turned out that I was actually more productive at home than in the office.
- There’s more to it than just the work. Let’s face it; one of the big benefits of being employed is that you usually get benefits. With health care costs rising out of control, there’s no doubt than some of us are going to have to choose ‘employment’ simply because it means we have medical benefits for our families. And, if you’re lucky, you may find an employer who offers some sort of retirement benefits as well.
- Some people need the social interaction of being in a workplace. Yes, you can replicate that by chatting online or on the phone, or going to a coffee shop. But some people really need the face time to be comfortable.
Having been both an entrepreneur and an employee, my advice is simply this: Be mindful of what you’re choosing to do for ‘work,’ whether that’s on your own or in an office. Think about what you enjoy and then try to find a way to do that, within the constraints of your own family situation.
Oh, and if you find a way to actually make that four-hour workweek thing work, let me know.