Breaking a habit is hard. Unlearning a lifetime of conditioning is harder.
Some of us tried the corporate thing and after too many closed doors and airtight containers decided to venture out on the unpaved path of self-employment. Many of us are working in creative fields like writing, art and I will add consulting in here. However many of us are not enjoying that dream of self-directed employment.
It took me a while to rid myself of non 9 to 5 er guilt. For a long time there was something to someone else always telling me where to be, what to do and that I was ok. Even the punishment (as a recent college grad) of those mistakes everyone makes in the first few years in the workplace made you feel alive.
But I knew it wasn’t for me, and I learned about self-employment and slowly fell in love.
I think many people find joy in predictability–but not me. I need some predictability and a constant stream of variation to keep me fresh and alive.
The fondness for predictability reminded me of the documentary I recently saw Jiro Dreams of Sushi. In the film an 86 year old Japanese chef with a three star michelin restaurant said, “happiness is doing the same thing every day.” He talked about how for sushi chefs predictability is bliss. This is a man who supported himself since he was seven years old (when he was pushed out on his own).
While I have great admiration for Jiro and people like him, it can be said that people who are stuck in what they feel is a dead end job will never get to higher ground if they don’t decide they want to (and want more than what is given to them).
When I started writing and podcasting as part of my corporate job, I relished the few days I worked from home (that was three times in five years). I didn’t understand why I had to dress up and make the work commute when I could create the content in the comfort of my own home. In fact I always found it more difficult to focus in an office environment where there were distractions all day every day.
Here are my thoughts on fear of being judged for a nontraditional worklife:
The truth is the only one “watching” us is us. If it’s the critical parent or “those people” we went to school with or past coworkers, no one really cares that much about what we’re doing except us. If we are happy and thriving (and able to pay our bills) then other people are happy for us. In fact, people only know and believe what you tell them. You’ll notice the criticism you get from others are the statements you’ve already made out loud (to them). If you tell people what you do with conviction, professionalism and self-respect, they will respect you. You are driving.
The point of this post is to remind you that the judgemental voice inside of you is not necessarily you. However, you are giving that voice prime real estate by listening to him/her. Acknowledge the voice, give it a seat at the table, and move on. Anyone who is needy doesn’t have their needs met. Meet your own needs. Give yourself permission to design and live your life the way you want to.