When the topic of self-employment comes up, I hear 3 common responses:
- “That’s too hard so I won’t even try.” or
- “Maybe one day, when a clear idea comes to me.” or
- “I should be able to get something going within a few months, or else it’s a failure.”
None of these is grounded in reality of what it takes to be self-employed. There’s such an odd mythology around self-employment, perhaps because people don’t talk about what goes on behind closed doors.
Here’s the reality about self-employment, in a nutshell.
It’s hard, yes, but it can be done if you’re willing to:
- Do some exploration about your strengths, your values, and the market.
- Explore your ideas step by step rather than waiting for clarity to come.
- Be very patient with the process (which is always much slower than you think).
- Let in help. (Doing it all alone is pure myth and does not work.)
It’s not for everyone, and the timing isn’t always right. But I myself wouldn’t trade it. As an introvert and highly sensitive person, I found employment was often more stressful and not as joyful as being my own boss.
My Self-employment Journey Over the Years
The creative freedom I get from self-employment has been essential for my well-being, even while it can stretch me too. Some days are not easy, for sure, more so in the beginning.
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. Wobbly is everywhere you look in nature.
I have found self-employment fulfilling from the start, even before it was working. 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, and to look for where it’s flowing.
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 never question my decision to take this self-employment journey, even during hard moments. It’s too good on the whole. (And the job world was too draining on the whole.)
I remember thinking early on, it shouldn’t have to be this mysterious! 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. So much of it is about following an inner compass for what feels true. It sure works the muscle of self-trust.
By the way, introversion and high sensitivity turned out not to be a barrier. It turned out it was a gift, even with marketing. (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 constant support for each other, as they circled the field three times and came in for a wobbly yet good enough landing.
I hadn’t seen a flock land up close like that before. Turns out there was a lot of effort that went into it. Some of them fell over at first! But it was fine. They got back up.
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— calling out to community, trusting, perseverance, and wobbly grace— we’ll be in the right ballpark too.
Finding Your Support
For me, turning to a business coach at times, and having a supportive group of kindred spirits, helps me feel less wobbly. Or at least OK about the wobbly times.
If you want to explore small group communities of support, I lead self-employment support groups for introverts and/or HSPs.
If you’re considering or new to self-employment, you might like my course to help you find your way with it: Bridge to Self-employment, to learn how it works, up close and personal.
For now, let’s both go forth and allow some wobbliness. It’s natural and normal.