How many times have you wished you could be your own boss?
It sounds great in theory, but just try it. You’ll find that it’s not easy. That’s because being your own boss forces you to take more responsibility for how you spend your time, your resources and your energy.
To be successful, you must master three key practices: Self-care, mental hygiene and self-discipline.
When you work for yourself, you can’t afford to treat yourself poorly.
No one is going to rescue you when you run yourself into the ground. No one is going to pick up the slack when you’re incapacitated by stress, depression, anxiety or all the other uglies that come with working yourself stupid.
Believe me, I know. As a recovering workaholic, I’ve flirted with disaster enough times to know that overwork will put you out of business in no time flat.
Do yourself — and your business — a favor: Invest in your own self-care. Keep reasonable, regular hours. Make sure to get plenty of water and exercise. Hold yourself to high expectations, but also set limits.
Self-care is essentially business care. You have a responsibility to keep yourself healthy and sane.
Good Mental Hygiene
You also have a responsibility for keeping your office clean. This applies to both your physical and your mental space.
The physical part is easy: Eliminate clutter, leave the desk clean at the end of the day, maybe vacuum once in a while.
Tending to the mental space is a little trickier. It involves monitoring and correcting the attitudes you have about work and life in general.
Here are a few basic rules to keep your office mojo from going sour:
- Don’t drag in negative attitudes.
- Show up to work at the same time every day, and keep a regular work schedule.
- Respect your attention and avoid needless distractions that fragment it.
- Don’t attack other people when things go south, and don’t attack yourself, either. The first rule of freelancing: I’m the boss. The second rule of freelancing: Don’t beat up the boss.
All these things give you control over your work environment, and that’s a privilege few people ever have. Unlike the workaday folks, you control your workspace culture. Seize that power responsibly by keeping your workspace free from destructive attitudes.
Self-employment is a study in self-reliance. If anything’s going to get done around here, you have to do it yourself. That includes invoicing, bookkeeping, professional development and everything else.
This is where the rubber meets the road. If you’re going to write freelance, you first must be able to discipline yourself. You’re the boss now, so you must act like a boss. Set expectations and call yourself on the carpet when you don’t meet them. Constantly evaluate your own work and decide where you need to improve. Seek out professional development and challenging “stretch” assignments.
All this is hard. Really hard. But, if you learn how to be a good boss to yourself, you’ll never have to work under a bad boss again. That’s worth the effort, right?
The Bottom Line
Being self-employed makes you take more responsibility for your life. That’s a challenge, but it’s also a gift.
We’re often reminded that with great power comes great responsibility. But, the reverse is also true: With great responsibility comes great power.
Photo credit: Gratisography