Calling all entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, freelancers, side-hustlers, gig-economy-participants, or otherwise “untraditionally employed” folk: This article is for you.
But even with our numbers skyrocketing, you can’t go a week without a friend, family member, or that person in your Lyft share telling you something about your style of work…that’s completely wrong.
For example, you’ve probably heard this one more than once: “I could never work from home. I just wouldn’t be motivated without an office and a boss! I don’t know how you get anything done.”
You get it. You don’t need to read an article about the myths people believe about working for yourself. Your life is living proof that they’re misguided. But…
What the hell, let’s air our frustrations. Cheers!
Myth #1: Your livelihood is unstable. (Also related: You’re not making any money.)
In certain circles, the idea that you would leave your traditional job to work for yourself sparks a strangely aggressive sort of fear in those around you. That’s because some people may believe that they could never do it themselves.
So when you announce that you are, in fact, doing it… they respond with an assumption that safeguards their own fear: If they’re working for themselves, they must be experiencing income volatility or very little income at all! And so this assumption makes them feel better about their decision to stay in their job.
At least, that’s what I think is going on.
The truth is, while there may be instability in the first year or so, people who work for themselves long term find that income stabilizes at a more-than-comfortable rate or it continues to grow. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to sustain this lifestyle.
Myth #2: You must be superhuman to keep yourself focused.
I come up against this assumption All. The. Time. How do you do it? Stay motivated?
If you’re anything like me, it’s not challenging to focus on your work. When you care about something and have invested countless hours in it, it’s not likely you’re going to decide one day to stop working and let it all go.
Of course, there are the inevitable momentary lapses in focus. I build small tricks (like the Pomodoro technique or time-blocking) into my routine to make sure small focus interruptions don’t derail my entire day—we’re only human, after all.
Whatever style of work we do, we all stay motivated to do certain things without external pressure. For example, we go to the gym, clean our home, or work on a hobby without anyone checking in on us. If you feel it’s important, the motivation to keep yourself on task comes from within.
Myth #3: You’re working for yourself because you couldn’t get a “real job.”
When I tell new people that I’m a freelancer, I’m either met with an incredulous wow, how do you do it type of response, or…I get a mixture of pity and confusion.
Some people believe that working for yourself rather than for a company is not a serious, real job. And the underlying assumption is that if you could get one of those “real jobs,” you would in a heartbeat.
The reality is that some of us did start working for ourselves because we got laid off or we were going through a life transition. (And many more of us deliberately left a job to work for ourselves.) But even if it wasn’t a choice in the beginning, it 100% is a choice now. This life of autonomy is fulfilling, and we’re not letting it go if we can help it.
Myth #4: You can answer the phone/respond to texts/reply to emails any hour of the day.
This assumption comes from clients or customers, sure. But it also comes from the other people in our lives. I’ve gotten a few hurt texts or emails from family members or friends who thought I was avoiding them because I didn’t answer their call at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday.
When you work for yourself, you have to be protective of your time and your mindset. Taking personal calls and responding to texts or emails as soon as they come in is a recipe to not get anything checked off your to-do list.
Yet, because you don’t have a supervisor in the office down the hall, it can take a while for the people in your life to understand that you’re still in some ways “on the clock” during the workday.
Myth #5: You must be a special type of person (think: risk-taking) to work for yourself.
This myth flies in the face of all the stats I listed at the beginning of this article. Multiple tens of millions of Americans are working in untraditional jobs…so it can’t be that we’re sparkly anomalies in a sea of conformists.
I think that just about any type of person could work for themselves—if they wanted to. You don’t have to be an introvert or an extrovert. You don’t have to be Type A. You don’t have to thrive on risk (I certainly don’t). You just have to find out how to make it work for your personality type and lifestyle.
What myths about working for yourself are you tired of correcting? Share this post & add your own!
Content courtesy of Krista Walsh, creative copywriting for purpose-driven companies and passionate people
Contributing Author, Krista Walsh
Krista Walsh writes website copy, blog posts, and product descriptions for small eCommerce companies and service-based solopreneurs. Her writing and messaging strategies help her clients speak to their customers’ values and emotions, for meaningful sales.
In her free time, she writes about purpose-driven business and freelance life at kristawalshcopywriter.com. On the off chance she’s not writing, she’s volunteering to walk the big ole’ dogs over at the Dog Café LA or watching (pretty bad honestly) TV dramas on Netflix.
Connect with Krista through her website, Krista Walsh Copywriter