5 Ways to be Feel Job-Liberated When You're Unwilling to Quit Working for 'The Man'

Yearning to flee the job lifestyle but remain tethered by your salary and benefits? There are worse problems.
VIP Contributor

Working for someone else has both benefits and drawbacks. There’s the comfort of a steady salary, as well as medical insurance and paid vacation. Although you know you’ll most likely never see great wealth while working for someone else, there’s also the guarantee of money in the bank every two weeks. If you work at a startup and really believe in its mission then maybe the nine-to-five is right for you.

However, as comforting as a regular paycheck can be, the obligations of a full-time job feel confining to some. If you’re one of those with a more free-spirited nature, it can even seem like a prison sentence. Maybe you’re starting to get entrepreneurial dreams of your own. However, if you’re not ready to take the plunge just yet, there are ways you can still breathe easily within the limitations of a day job. Here are a few things you can do to keep a sense of freedom while working for someone else.

1. Choose the right job.

There are so many options for today’s employees that a salaried job doesn’t have to feel confining. You may be able to work from home or keep flexible hours. If you aren’t a morning person, a position that lets you work wherever you want, whenever you want might be a better fit for you than one that prioritizes set work hours. As the demand has grown for employers to focus more on work output than physical presence, more businesses are embracing a flexible work culture. Small and midsized businesses are especially welcoming of this approach, but you may be able to negotiate flexible work hours during the interview process for any job, especially if you possess specialized skills.

Related: How This Entrepreneur Kept His Day Job While Starting a Business

2. Change your perspective.

Often simply changing your perspective can make a big difference. Instead of thinking of your job as something that is keeping you from achieving your dreams, look for ways it could be preparing you for your next step. This is especially true if you have dreams to start your own business or work as an independent contractor.

Look for ways that you can gain valuable experience in your position that will help you once you do decide to branch out on your own. Try to find ways to be more creative or do what you love in your day-to-day work, even if it’s volunteering to redesign the company logo or head up a volunteer group.

Related: 5 Reasons You Should Keep Your Day Job

3. Start a side gig.

Even the most stressful job leaves a little time on nights and weekends to pursue something on the side. If your goal is to someday run your own business, you can start by landing one client or getting work through a site like Fiverr or Upwork. You may be limited in your work hours initially, but this can help you gradually build a foundation that will allow you to go full time.

If you don’t have an idea for a business, finding a side gig that you enjoy could give you just the injection of creative freedom you need to go to the office every day.

Related: How to Navigate Freelancing When You Have a Day Job

4. Recognize when it’s just the job.

Not every job feels confining. If you feel as though you’re going to work every day to make someone else rich, it could simply be a sign that you don’t believe in the company that is paying your salary.

If you’re personally invested in the work your employer is doing, you’ll be more likely to feel as though you’re working toward a purpose. Your daily work dread could also have more to do with a micromanaging, controlling boss than a feeling that the job itself is trapping you. Know when it’s time to make a job change and during your search, make sure you choose your employer carefully.

Related: The 4 Signs It's Time to Quit Your Day Job

5. Take Control

Whatever the role you play in your current job, take full accountability for it. Even if you feel it’s mundane, the work you’re assigned to do each day makes a difference in the larger operation. If you have a controlling boss, one of the best ways to limit that control is to do a stellar job. Be proactive in doing your job and you’ll find your boss has fewer opportunities to issue commands. For those who have a boss who might be open to it, have a conversation where you request more autonomy in your daily work.

You don’t have to run your own business or work as an independent contractor to have freedom. In fact, life may feel more free without the stress of running an entire business on your own like many startup founders do. If you like the security of a salary, there are employers who appreciate employees who are self-reliant and can work with minimal supervision. You may be able to negotiate this in your current position but if not, it may be time for a job change.

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