It has been almost 6 months since I quit my job to become my own boss. Looking back, I know I made the right decision. I have learned so much and made progress on my business and blog. It’s everything you could hope for when you decide to start working for yourself.
Six months after taking the plunge, it is time for some reflection. Here are the 10 lessons I learned about being my own boss and working for myself:
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1) You are responsible for everything in your work
I can’t stress this enough. When you are your own boss, everything is down to you. When you have pressing questions or to-dos that need to be done, you can only rely on yourself for answers.
It’s like a Q&A session with yourself.
- Q: I need to get health insurance for myself.
- A: Go research health plans.
- Q: I need to incorporate my business.
- A: Google it.
- Q: I need to write a legal contract for a freelance project by Monday.
- A: Then do it.
- Q: I need to write a proposal for a client by tomorrow. I don’t know how to write one.
- A: You’ll find a way.
When you are working for yourself, you are the one responsible for getting things done.
2) You are responsible for separating work and life
I mentioned that you are responsible for your work, but that’s just half of it. You are also responsible for your life.
When you are working for yourself, work-life-balance becomes a myth. Because work is your life.
When you are working for someone else, you have designated work hours, such as the common nine-to-five. Outside of designated work hours, you can do whatever you want.
When you are working for yourself, you theoretically have the power to decide between work and life. But what ends up happening is that you realize that there’s always more work to be done.
The real challenge is learning where to set the boundaries between work and life. Click To Tweet
When you work for someone else, you can say, “ah screw it I’ll leave it for tomorrow”. When you work for yourself, it becomes “okay I need to get this done by tomorrow”.
The funny thing is that many people quit their jobs because they’re tired of working 8 hours a day in an office. Instead, they want to be in control of their time. The reality is that many people who quit work even longer hours for less pay.
3) Personal discipline and time management are key to working for yourself
To set those boundaries, you need to have strong personal discipline. For example, one of the things that have helped me is to set a daily schedule or routine. I don’t always follow it well, but at least I know what to expect every day.
Without a routine, you may end up lying in bed all day before getting hit by a surge of self-loathing. If you’re not careful, these bad habits become a bad routine and you end up stuck in a rut.
How disciplined you are will have a direct impact on how well you make use of your time. In other words, time management is the most important thing about being your own boss.Without the personal discipline needed to manage your time well, you’re better off working for someone else. Click To Tweet
4) Set a schedule
I remember the day after I quit my job. I looked at my Google Calendar and it was empty.
Having an empty calendar makes it difficult to use time effectively. So what you need to do is to split up your day into the different activities and things you will be doing.
For me, I usually wake up around 6 or 7am. I go to the gym and eat breakfast between 8-10am. And then so on so forth. By allocating your time to certain activities ahead of time, you will have a clear structure to you day.
5) You can save so much food buying groceries
Since I started working from home, I noticed how much money I save by buying groceries instead of eating out.
When you eat out, an average lunch is around $10 and dinner can go up to $15. When you buy groceries a single meal is around $5 or less.
That’s a lot of savings over a long period of time.
6) You can devote more time to your health
When you are working for yourself, you can prioritize your health. Now I can make sure to spend enough time every day doing the three most important things for your personal health:
1) Sleeping enough
3) Eating properly by preparing my own food
7) You need to take breaks
When you are working for yourself, you feel responsible for putting the hard hours in. But working more hours does not mean that you will get more work done.
After working for a certain amount of time, you become less and less productive. So it’s important to sprinkle a few breaks throughout your day.
I have recently started using the Pomodoro Technique. It’s a time management method in which you work in 25 minute intervals separated by short breaks. I like it because it forces me to take a break, allowing me to come back refreshed and ready to go.It's about working smart, not just working hard. Click To Tweet
8) Get out of the house!
This is an important one that I need to remember! If you work from home, you might have a reason to leave the house every day.
For example, I have a home office in my bedroom. The building I live in also has a gym. So unless I run out of food, I never have to leave my building. So sometimes if I’m very focused on work, I don’t leave my building for an entire day or two.
Whenever this happens, I feel very disconnected for the world. I remember staying home three days in a row once cranking out a project. The moment I stepped out of the building felt so surreal. I wasn’t used to the city environment full of people and noises. I remember I struggled to speak with a cashier because I hadn’t spoken to anyone for three days!
So if you work from home it is a good idea to step out of the house for your breaks. Go for a walk or work in a separate location. Change things up!
9) Make time to socialize
When you work in an office, you may besocializing every day. This is especially true in many open office spaces. Think about all those short conversations you have in the halls, kitchens and even bathrooms. So during your time off you may feel like being along and having some time to yourself.
When you work for yourself, you are by yourself most of the time. This means that you need to be proactive when it comes to socializing. Keep track of your friends and reach out to reconnect. Make plans for weeknights and weekends. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself stuck at home by yourself, which can get depressing after awhile.Be a human and socialize. Click To Tweet
10) Take responsibility for everything in your life
Here is the most important lesson I learned: taking responsibility for everything in your life is the scariest and most rewarding thing you can do.
Quitting my job to work for myself was really difficult. From incorporating a company to finding health insurance, setting up business processes to writing legal contracts, finding clients to delivering projects.
I had to do everything on my own – my way.
But that’s the beauty of it. Corporations make it hard for you to leave them by providing salaries, benefits, structured hours and career ladders. Compare that to the hassle and uncertain outcome of doing your own thing. It’s no wonder most people prefer to stick it out in unfulfilling jobs.
Once you’re able to take the leap and get something going, you look at things in a different perspective. You realize how liberating it is to take responsibility of every aspect in your life. How empowering it feels to know that you can rely on yourself. How freeing it feels to take a walk on a Wednesday afternoon because you feel like it.
Before I sign off, I want to leave you with one of my all-time favorite quotes:
The moment you accept responsibility for EVERYTHING in your life is the moment you gain the power to change ANYTHING in your life
– Hal Elrod, The Miracle Morning
You are capable of more than you think! Let me know if you have any questions about working for yourself in the comments section below. I read and respond to each and every one.
Until next time!
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