For those of you that don't know this already, I've had a pretty radical career shift within just the last couple of years. I went from working for the US government after a long stint in the air force to a full fledged creative career, for which I never had to leave my house. I didn't even really need to speak to other people for 90% of my work. Hey, let's take it one step further - I literally started working in a 3' x 5' soundproof box. How's that for isolation?
Needless to say, there were some adjustments to be made. With my day so rigidly structured - and with 10 hours of it not even available for self-determination - suddenly having to plan my day from wake-up to sleep was a good mixture of thrilling and daunting. I won't pretend it wasn't awesome to not put on pants, but I also won't pretend that not wearing pants affected me psychologically over time. So here are five things I've learned about self-employment/working from home.
1. You need people. God, this was a hard one for me. Look, I know it's cool to say that you don't like people, but let's be honest. You just don't like most people. There's a non-trivial percentage of the population that you need to talk to every once in a while because they're funny, or they help you expand your mind (now I sound like I'm talking about an LCD dealer) or because having them in your life enriches it. You ain't gonna find that in a 3x5 box. Socializing with and helping others is an important part of life, and it's easy to forget when your job doesn't force you to talk to people.
2. You need structure. Put. On. Pants. Seriously, put them on. Staying in your pajamas all day puts yourself in a state of mind that says you're about to go to bed, or you just woke up, or you just watched The Notebook again and really need some ice cream. Decide when you want to work and stick to it. Eliminate distractions. And when you're done working? Turn the goddamn computer off. Don't click random icons like you did when you were in the corporate world. DO WORK. BE DONE. GO AWAY.
3. You need to remember what number 3 was supposed to be.
4. You need self-care. The 9-5 lifestyle tells you when to sleep, eat, bathe, work out, etc. Without that structure, you might find yourself skipping meals, eating constantly, ignoring physical activity. There's a fantastic self-care chart that I refer to that shows you what to do every time you feel like the deck is stacked against you. Sometime's it's as simple as being hydrated.
5. You need gratitude. At the end of the day, you need to look at yourself and consider how lucky you are to be doing what you do without a boss and without having to put on a suit. Not everyone gets the chance to pursue their own business or creative endeavors. So when you're dealing with a crappy client or you can't get your F@#$*KING USB SLOTS TO WORK PROPERLY...ahem...take a step back, take a deep breath, and remember how good life really is. This is not an excuse to accept the status quo - striving for improvement is important - but it is a reason to keep a positive attitude.
That's it! Those are literally the only 5 things you need to know about being self employed and working from home. Seriously. When you go to a bank and try to get a business loan for your Bonk-o-Matic Bread Throwing Device and they try to find out if you're qualified to get their money, mention this article. They'll practically pour money on you.