On Being Self-Employed

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Finally, after 17 years of being an adult, and 17 years of being employed by others I am slowly reaching a double state:  being self-employed and being more of a morning person.  Since the dawn of late adolescence I have embodied the zombie paradigm of staying up past 12am (more like 3am or 4am) and waking up whenever I had to (be it 8am, 12pm, or as late as I can).  Work weeks consisted of going to sleep at a not-so-late time and waking up because I had to and sleeping in during the weekends.  Every morning was a sprint – wake up (usually a bit late), skip breakfast (breakfast on rare occasions), and getting that blood pressure up with the rush to work – just terrible.    To add, working for an employer consists of several inconveniences: the paradigm of management usually consists of some “jerk” behaving like he’s superior to you (ah, the illusion of power of middle management) – most likely because it is the only power he’ll ever come close to, set hours in which you come and go, some unnecessary workplace drama that kills productivity, and if you’re really good at what you do then they may treat you worse the better you become at your job.  The latter aspect refers to what Steve Covey refers to in “7 Habits of Effective People” as the lose-lose paradigm: people think that in order to be successful, they have to be “better” than someone else or someone else has to be “worse.”  If someone is good in a workplace, others will feel jealous and threatened – that is such a load of crap.

Being self-employed, the burden becomes how do I earn my next paycheck?  Also, I have to be concerned with how to set my own work hours and the self-employed person has to do everything a company does for you as an employee: marketer, price-setter, salesperson, administrative assistant, employee, supervisor/boss, and collector.  This may seem daunting, but compared to the chains of employment for agencies it actually rocks.  Actually, setting one’s own schedule is the most difficult and is something I am working through (it does not have to be 9-5 and that freedom is both freeing and scary).  Here are some more cons: working for others you won’t see the end product of your work (something that Karl Marx refers to in his critique of capitalism and something that is referred to in “The Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith – the alienation of man/woman from his/her own work due to only working on a small portion of the complete product), there is less purpose as a result, you don’t set your own hours, you get rewarded for “good” work but punished for “excellent” work, you earn thousands or millions for a company but only get paid about 2% or less for your work (rough estimate), you have to beg to have time off (2 weeks out of 54 is not a whole lot, holidays included),  and your weekends consist of trying your best to forget that you had even worked in the past 5 days.

Moving on to setting my own schedule, it has been a constant struggle for a long time.  The adrenaline rush and anxiety of getting up and rushing somewhere every morning has taken its toll and so has the “staying up late” culture of youth – both just kill the health and most likely take off years or “good years” from our lives.  Getting up because you HAVE to versus because you WANT to gives the power of your schedule to someone else – sure you feel relieved after a day’s of work and I do miss that feeling, someone else is dictating when you come and go.   When you take that power back (and develop discipline along the way), all the work and scheduling comes from intrinsic motivation versus extrinsic (which is a longer lasting type of motivation which will help reach long term goals).  I remember reading recently that “Getting an education will earn you a living, but being self-educated will earn you a fortune.”  Being self-disciplined is one of the cornerstones for long term success.

Alright, that’s about it.  I’ve laid out my main reasons for disliking employment for other agencies.  Is there an upside?  Not really, not if you like bending over.  Well, I recently had a conversation with a friend about unability or unwillingness to “blend in” in a large organization, and perhaps that is my issue and my personal issue, but I still celebrate the freedom and possibilities of self-employment.  Self-discipline is still a virtue we may harness in any situation to better attain freedom from the restrictions of others.

Have a great day!

The End.

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