Do you ever feel like the person you really are ends at the door to your office? Having a job these days can feel like trading a lot of yourself for the paycheck. We’re told how to dress, what to say, and sometimes even how to think. The words people use at the office – circle back, synergize, leverage – can sometimes feels like a foreign language. One day you might wake up to realize you resent those stupid work pants, are bored to tears with break room chit chat, and that padded cube might as well be a padded cell. But what can you do about it?
You can join the Being Yourself Economy, a/k/a becoming a freelancer. There’s an emerging army of people that are saying enough is enough. They’re earning money in creative ways that don’t require they pretend to be someone they’re not. It’s not an easy road, but if it’s one you want to go down, you can work to become a member of this trend.
In this freelance economy, you want to be yourself. You want to say the things you normally say, be around the people you want to be around, and wake up when you wake up. It’s not that you’re not willing to work hard. In fact, you’d better be ready to work harder and smarter than 95% of your peers. But it’s achievable. According to a 2016 study done by independent contractor solutions provider, MBO Partners, nearly 40 million people work freelance in the US alone. And, the study reports almost 3 million freelancers made more than $100,000 per year.
The key is to have one skill that people are willing to hire you for, no matter what you’re wearing, what time you work, or where you get the job done. You have to be good, better than most, at solving a certain problem. This can be with graphic design, coding, writing, legal advice, accounting, tutoring, personal training, or many other skills.
But the path isn’t easy. You have to be great at what you do, or you won’t make it. The thing about freelancing is that your customers are free to not hire you again. It’s a lot more complicated to get fired from a job at a traditional company than for a client to not call you again for your services.
If this is the route you want to go, remember that you are starting a business, even if the only employee is you. You not only have to have top skills in your craft, you have to study up on soft skills like organization, time management, productive meetings and networking. It has to be a pleasure to work with you. You can’t be late, sloppy, disorganized, or hard to reach.
If you feel stifled by the corporate environment, if you hate having to sit within seven feet of several people you wouldn’t choose to be near otherwise, and if you prefer jeans and flip flops over business suits and heels, think about joining the Being Yourself Economy. Being able to freelance is a luxury. Just as other people chase the luxury of a Ferrari, a million-dollar paycheck, or a mansion, the luxury of being yourself as you earn money is one that’s open for the chasing.
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image credit: Farrell Noble via Unsplash