When the topic of self-employment comes up, I hear two common responses:
- “That’s too hard so I won’t even try.” or
- “I should be able to get something going within a few months, or else it’s a failure.”
Neither is grounded in reality. There’s such an odd mythology around self-employment, perhaps because people don’t talk about what goes on behind closed doors.
Here’s what I think is true about self-employment, in a nutshell.
It’s hard, yes, but it can be done if you’re willing to:
- Do a lot of deep homework about your strengths, your values, and the market.
- Be very patient with the process (which is always much slower than you think).
- Let in help. (Doing it all alone is pure myth.)
It’s not for everyone, and the timing isn’t always right. But I myself wouldn’t trade it.
My Self-employment Journey Over 9 Years
The creative freedom I get from self-employment has been essential for my well-being, even while it can stretch me too. Oh Lordy some days are not easy, more so in the beginning, and even all along the way.
I have had to get comfortable with wobbliness. It’s real, and we can learn to live with it. And grow from it! It’s rich. It’s natural. It’s everywhere you look in nature.
I have found self-employment fulfilling from the start. Fulfillment is a key part of my definition of success. Even when I didn’t know how I was going to make ends meet in the beginning, (and yes that did stress me out!), I still felt “richer” because of the freedom.
On the hard days, I have to remember the wobbly times are important times of growth, even if I can’t see it yet. When I remember to stop thrashing about in the grip of questioning what’s wrong, somehow I float to the top again. Ease arrives. Answers arrive. Luckily my coach reminds me each time I get caught up in it. And I’m reminding myself right now, to be in that place of Allowing.
I’m glad I forged ahead in those early days, with support. Phew, I’m so grateful for the business coach who shined a light many times in that dark tunnel. I get to pass it on today. I know from experience to tell my clients that tears are OK.
I never question my decision to take this self-employment journey. I might complain at times, but changing course never comes up for me as a worthy option. It’s too good on the whole.
I remember thinking early on, it shouldn’t have to be this hard! I told myself to take good notes so I could help others along their self-employment freedom train too.
I didn’t know then that I would end up making self-employment coaching a key part of my work. I just followed the signs, step by step. You can’t plan too far ahead. So much of it is about following an inner compass for what feels true. It surely works the muscle of self-trust.
By the way, if you’re wondering if introversion made it harder to be self-employed and to do all that promotion stuff, here’s my truth. I thought it would have been a barrier, but it turned out it was NOT. (See: Self-employment for Introverts.)
Inspiration from the Geese
I watched these Canadian geese flying overhead the other day, calling out to each other with such intensity, helping them to steer together. I was struck by their synchronicity and their constant support for each other, as they circled the field three times and came in for a wobbly yet graceful group landing.
I hadn’t seen a flock land up close like that before. I was able to see there was a lot of effort that went into it.
My heart was pounding as they called out, as if they were calling to me too. Wow. And when they made it safely to the ground, I felt like cheering. Like any journey, landing was no small thing.
I think if we channel their energy— community, trust, perseverance, and wobbly grace— we’ll be in the right ballpark too.
In the Meantime, Here’s a First Step
In my 8 steps for finding and living your sustainable and fulfilling path, the first step is to take care of your energy and groundedness. When you do that, you can reduce the damage of stress AND hear your inner compass for what to do next. Not to mention you’ll be more confident in trying out new paths. Check out these grounding methods for sensitive souls.
If you want to learn my 8-step model, see Resilient Business.
Find Your Community of Support
For me, having a supportive group of kindred spirits helps me feel less wobbly. I lead two self-employment support groups for introverts, one for those who are self-employed, and one for those exploring it. If you want to explore the possibilities, contact me here.