I’m not an expert. I’m just a guy who likes to think about stuff.
From last week, I offered an excuse we often give ourselves when we won’t leave a job we hate. Here’s another one: I’m scared to leave.
If there’s one thing us human beings resist, it’s change. Sure, I may be stuck in a rut, but I know the rut really well. When I wake up in the morning, I anticipate the rut. When I arrive at work, I drink my first cup of coffee in the rut. When I sit at my desk and scan through my Facebook and Twitter feeds, I am sitting in the rut. You get the point. The rut is familiar, and change can be scary.
But don’t we owe it to ourselves to explore other opportunities that may make us happier? Before I became an independent worker, it never occurred to me to be one. For years, I showed up to my desk at work every day, did my job, and went home. Every other week, money ended up in my bank account. But I was miserable. Why? The job became stale. When I first started, it was all exciting because it was new. But after awhile, I was doing the same things over and over again. Coming to work became a chore, and chores are hardly ever exciting! On Sunday mornings, I somehow hoped that time could slow down so Monday wouldn’t arrive as quickly. On many Monday mornings, I’d park my car in the company parking lot and just sit in the driver’s seat, staring at the front door of the office building. I really didn’t want to go in there! But I didn’t know where else to go.
Let me tell you something. The day I decided to go off on my own was…the most liberating day of my life. Was I still scared? Hell yeah! The fear never really goes away. But what was scarier was the idea of staying in an unfulfilling job. Think about it. When you’re at an unstimulating job, you’re probably not putting your best into it. And when you’re not putting your best foot forward, what resume fodder do you have to present to your next employer? Sitting across from your next boss during a job interview, try saying, “I did the same thing for 10 years. By the way, I thrive with change.” Contradictory, right? In this day and age, most jobs won’t last forever. We always have to be on our guard for when it’s time to move on. We simply can’t afford to be afraid for long.
One of the great things about being independent is that the work often changes because you typically have multiple clients. They all don’t want you to do the same thing, so variety is baked into your career. For me, one day I’m responding to an office action, the next day I’m writing marketing collateral. I always have resume fodder to present prospective clients.
But what about money, you ask? I may not like my job, but it pays consistently. If I leave it, I will give up the consistent paycheck. Shouldn’t I be scared? I must admit, it’s not uncommon for your pay to take a hit initially when you start working for yourself. But you know what? If your work addresses a need that many companies have, once you find clients, your income tends to go back up. Being a patent agent works out well because there are so many people out there with invention ideas who want to protect them. Individual inventors and companies alike. Regarding freelance writing, there are companies who’d prefer that their employees focus on other areas, like coming up with innovative ideas. Once you do a good job for these companies, there’s often more work to be done. And even if there isn’t, you have things to talk about with your next clients. You’re never in a rut for long.
Yes, change is scary. But stagnancy is even scarier. Stagnancy at a job you don’t like? Terrifying!
Another excuse is coming next week. Stay tuned!