8 Lessons I Learnt Working For Myself
Having spent 27 years of my life working for large organizations, I recently embarked on a journey of working for myself. For many people who take this plunge early in their career, perhaps it is simpler. There is less at stake. And, the passion of youth can help you ride through a lot of the struggle that this could entail!
Here are some powerful lessons that I learned in the process.
1. Rediscover your identity
When you work for large organizations like IBM and TCS, your identity tends to be shaped by the organization you are a part of. The strange thing is that you tend to see yourself as an extension of your organization. So much so, that your life literally revolves around your work.
So, what does this do to you? It could take away the balance in your life and make it very one-dimensional. I was stunned to find that my family’s expectations from me had come down to zero, as I was seldom available for anything.
When I started working for myself, I rediscovered my identity. I had the time to introspect, to see if my life was going in the right direction and bring some balance back into my life.
2. You control your own destiny
Sometimes you have to trade in your likes and preferences for a corporate role and accept a dilution of what you can and cannot do.
In your own work, it is up to you what you do with your time and business.You have no one to push you and no one to fall back on. If it has to be then it is all up to you. This is a powerful feeling. It gives you a great perspective.
3. You grow as a professional
When you have an organization to back you, your work is a lot easier. Things change when you start to work on your own and that’s when you find out what you are made of!
Consequently, your learning is also more rapid as you have to do a lot more and rely solely on yourself to build your business.
4. You learn to live in the present
Working in large organizations you are always looking forward to the next big thing. There is always this next promotion, the next big deal, the next big raise and the next big opportunity. It’s like chasing a shadow.
You live so much in the future, thinking about the things that will come to you that sometime you miss out the simple pleasure of living in the present.
You let go of your time, that can you can never get back!
5. You learn to take life, one day at a time
Unlike a large company that can make things happen quickly, when you work on your own, rapid change seldom happens. What you can accomplish in a day is determined primarily by what you can do on your own. So, you tend to take each day, on its own.
6. It’s a shot in the arm, for your health
My corporate life entailed substantial travel across time zones. While I was excited initially, over time, I began to feel the impact of endless travel, sleepless nights and calls around the clock.
Working on my own gave me a new perspective of things. I began to turn down work that I could not take up or which I did not enjoy.
The feeling that you get when you call the shots for yourself, is priceless! I began working out in a gym six days a week. In the process my health picked up. So much so that I lift more weights now than I did as a teenager.
7. You realize there is more to life than work
Many of us talk about work-life balance but in reality, finding that balance is very difficult.
When you are driven purely by numbers and targets very soon you surrender to it. Your personal life recedes into the background. And, before you know your time is not your own, any more.
When I moved to my own work, I was pleasantly surprised by the control I had over my time. You tend to get more work done in less time, without the pressure.
I had the time to go for vacations, get my fitness regime back on rails and also spend time with my family doing what they wanted to do, something I hadn’t done for a long time before.
8. You begin to see the bigger picture
In my corporate role, I would travel across the globe whenever there was a requirement, which was quite often. It never occurred to me to see if some other part of my life was out of sync. Initially my family protested but there came a time, when they simply gave up.
Working on my own, I have come to weigh the pros and cons of my decision with the impact that it would have on my family and my life beyond my work. In the process I have found my decision-making more holistic and more beneficial not only to my work but also for other equally important parts of my life.
About the Author: Srinivasan is an independent consultant working in the area of strategy and technology interventions in the public sector domain. He has worked in companies like IBM and TCS and has over 30 years of experience spanning 24 countries.