I’ve received so many e-mails and comments about my “Change The Way You See Work and Change Your Life” article that I decided to write a follow-up article to talk more about the specifics of what some call “non-traditional work” but what I call “business in blue jeans”: why do it, how can you do it, and how can it transform your life? You’ll find a few more nuts and bolts here.
Why Do It?
I believe in a life that’s filled with four things: love, joy, passion, and freedom. If your life doesn’t have all four of these things in it, I think something needs to change!
First and foremost, I believe you should love what you do. Confucious said, “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Thomas Edison said, “I never did a day’s work in my life, it was all fun.” Steve Jobs said, “You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” So first, love what you do, be passionate about sharing it with others, and success will come.
Second, I believe that work doesn’t have to consume the majority of your day. If you’re working in the corporate world, you’re spending at least eight hours a day at work, but often more. Figure you’re sleeping seven or eight hours at night, then spending an hour each on things like commuting, household chores, getting ready to leave the house in the morning, exercising, and by the end of the day, you’re lucky if you’ve got three or four hours left for eating meals, enjoying your family, relaxing — and how much of that time do you spend watching TV? I just don’t think this is how life has to be.
Third, I believe that work is what makes the rest of life possible. I love what I do — I’m deeply passionate about helping people design their lives and create a business that makes that life possible. But I’m also deeply passionate about experiencing all that life has to offer. I spend time reading so I can learn about new things. I try new hobbies all the time. I bake bread, I garden, I travel the world. And I do this because my work makes those things possible… because I’ve designed it that way. I determined what I wanted my life to look like and then I designed a business that would support that life. And you can, too.
So let’s get down to some nuts and bolts stuff.
How Can You Do It?
I’m going to put this on the table right now: the lifestyle I describe isn’t for everyone. Working in this fashion requires a certain skill set and a specific mindset. Virtually anyone can learn the skills needed. We’re talking things like self-discipline and a strong work ethic (yes, really!). But not everyone can manage the mindset. Some people feel very guilty when everyone they know is working and they’re not. Some people have been raised to believe in a very specific type of work and anything outside that is “wrong.” And some people are still operating in a mindset that’s focused on a lack of self-worth. These are hard to change. But if you can be open-minded and allow yourself to truly own your life and believe that you are worth it and you deserve it, this kind of lifestyle might be for you.
I’ve received a lot of e-mail from people saying, “That’s great for YOU, but I can’t just go freelance and not work full-time.” Well, that’s probably true. But since I’m not talking about “going freelance,” it’s also probably not very relevant.
First of all, I’m not talking about NOT working. Sometimes I work a very full week. Sometimes I work more than I would ever work in a corporate setting. This is especially true when I’m working with a client to set up a new venture. You almost always work harder in the beginning when you’re building your brand and gaining visibility than you do once you’re more established. For example, I work far less now than I did when I first started. Some days I just work for a few hours and I can take vacations when I want, knowing my business will continue to run. But the point is, you love what you do, so when you are working a lot of hours, you actually enjoy it.
Second, this isn’t taking what you do in a corporate setting and transplanting it to home. Do that and you’ll work just as hard as you did before. Instead, this type of business is centered around taking what you know and love, turning it into a system, and then finding ways to present that system to others.
For example, say you’re a writer. You’re passionate about writing, you’re good at it, and you know how to get freelance writing gigs. In my system, you’d do freelance writing, sure, but you’d also figure out the steps you use to make a living as a writer, turn that into a system and share that system with others in a variety of ways (and of course you’d market to writers looking for gigs that didn’t necessarily compete with the kind of gigs you seek). This is just one example of where you could start. You’d also add a few other types of streams of income as well, all of which would also be similarly passive (what I call “passive(ish)”).
At first, building any business takes time as you get everything set up and start your marketing process. But over time, this type of “business in blue jeans” can grow into a serious, passive(ish) business, especially if you utilize outsourcing to its best postential. You get to do what you love, help others, and experience a great deal of freedom.
How Can This Transform Your Life?
From the start, if you’re doing work you love, your life will be transformed just by that alone. But beyond that, as you build this style of business, you also free up your time to experience the richness of life. How many times have you gone to work when it’s still dark out, worked inside all day, then left after dark, never once seeing the sunlight that day? How many times have you thought about things you’d like to do but don’t have the time for? How tired are you at the end of the day, after working under flourescent lights? How crushed is your spirit after working in a tiny cubicle?
Now imagine how alive you’d feel if you could work in the sunlight, or if you could choose and design any workspace you wanted? How alive would you feel if you knew you could work from a cafe in Paris or a bar in Spain? What if you could just relax at home, in front of a cozy fire and work while the bread you made that morning baked in the oven, filling the house with its heavenly scent (that was my day yesterday)?
Just imagine your dream life. Imagine every possibility- what you could do if you had more time, if you had more flexibility. Imagine what each day would look like if you could design it especially for you. You’d have more time to spend with your family. You’d have more energy to give to your work AND your family.
The point I’m making, the point I’m almost always making, is that your life belongs to you. You really do get to choose if you want to work for someone else. You get to choose where you work and when. Most of us just don’t believe it because we can’t see “how.” But this is your life and you can choose. Whether or not you actually do, well, that’s up to you.