Why You Couldn't Pay Me to Work a 'Real' Job
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Working for yourself has many perks, and some of us are just too weird to be cubicled. I'm one of those. Nearly 10 years ago, I kicked the job habit. Here's why I will never, ever go back.
1. Overcoming obstacles
I've talked to a lot of entrepreneurs, and a surprising number launched independent careers because some obstacle prevented them from working a traditional job.
Per Wickstrom writes about how 20 years of addiction ruined his life -- and led him to become an entrepreneur with a commitment to help others like him. His solution was to open a holistic Narcanon center, Best Drug Rehabilitation. I particularly love his story, because he didn't come from a privileged background and doesn't have any special skills. What he does have is the vision, drive and tremendous compassion necessary to make things happen.
My friend Cindy Watrous wrote about how her disability is kind of responsible for her career. She has Cerebral Palsy, a condition that restricts her movements but doesn't affect her brains (she has plenty of those). Add in a baby and a husband who had been laid off, and she needed to launch career immediately, and with no money. So she did ... and she proves every day that health is not a barrier to success.
One of the most well-known names in marketing is the brilliant and talented Jon Morrow, CEO of SmartBlogger -- formerly Boost Blog Traffic. Jon was born with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). He's built a pretty impressive online empire, and he does it using only the muscles of his face. He can't move any other part of his body. In spite of his debilitating disability, Jon is living the dream.
Me? I'm diabetic, and some days, I just need to nap. Or I can't sleep and feel super-creative at 4 a.m. Since I work for myself, I can work on my own schedule and I don't have to drive anywhere to do it.
If you're worried about ever finding a decent job you're capable of working, think about all the people who have overcome their issues and created their own careers. When you can get an education online and work from home, the possibilities are endless, no matter who you are or what obstacles might be standing in your way.
Related: Free Your Work, Free Your Soul
2. Working on your own time
Another thing we aren't all cut out to do is work a schedule. Entrepreneurial people tend to be a little nuts. I send emails when I'm still working at midnight or up at 5 a.m., and get answers. All the time.
Creatives, especially, have to work on their own circadian rhythms. When creativity hits, you answer. And you surround yourself with whatever inspires you. Writers have odd habits. Victor Hugo wrote naked, and Friderich Schiller liked a box of rotten apples under his desk. Stephen King once said he has the heart of a small boy in a jar on his desk, but I'm reasonably sure that was a joke.
I love working from home, because I can work when I'm feeling most creative. I usually have a burst of solid creativity in the morning after a good night's sleep. My best writing days are like today -- out of bed at 7, writing till about 1 p.m. I'll do whatever I want this afternoon, and have another round of writing or organizing after dinner between 8 and 11. Trying to work between 2 and 8 p.m. is a complete waste of time. That's just how I roll... and a schedule like that would never work in an office setting.
3. No ceiling
Another reason I'd never go back to having a boss is career limitations. As a business owner, my income is limited only by my imagination. In the future, I plan to offer resources for other writers and I may even expand into speaking engagements or content strategy consulting. I don't know what the future holds, but I do know that there is no glass ceiling when you own your own business.
4. Job creator
When I hit a wall with the amount of words I could realistically produce every week, I hired assistants. They help me with research, scheduling and writing. As they learn to how best help me, I teach them everything they need to know about establishing themselves as writers, give them constructive feedback, help them improve their writing, and when they're ready, I'll push them out of the nest and help them find publishers and clients to launch their own careers. I really like having the opportunity to help other talented writers.
5. Floating desk
Ok, so this one is still in the dream stage, but it is, in fact -- my dream. One day you'll find me on Kickstarter with a prototype for a waterproof laptop desk / lounge chair. Mark my words. It will feature a spill-proof margarita holder, built-in Bluetooth speakers (for Skype calls), and a retractable sun shade.