The Joy and Terror of Self Employment

I never imagined that one day, I would own my own business. I never imagined that one day, I would work for myself. This was never part of my dreams, and in fact I adamantly said that I did not want to be self-employed. There’s too much instability, there’s too much on the line, and I wanted to enjoy my free time and not constantly feel like I had to do something, to better myself or my business.

I wanted a clear separation between work and life.

Manta: I am calm. I give myself space. I allow myself rest. I find focus.

I did that, for a while. But what I found was that I was miserable. I had work, and I had life, but what I was striving for in each was so opposite of one another, and I needed to find some way to merge them.

And so I did.

When I first left my full time job, I was very careful. I knew my tendency to overdo things and my tendency to work until I dropped, and so I spent the first several months easing my way into self-employment. I enjoyed time outdoors, read a lot, and allowed things to happen as they happened. And then the fall hit, and my creativity went wild, and I started feeling that sense of “not enough,” that I wasn’t contributing enough financially, that I wasn’t serving people to my highest capacity, and that I wasn’t allowing myself to fully be me in my work.

And quite frankly, a lot of that was true.

So I decided to be more bold. I decided to stop waiting around and I gave myself some major goals to hit in my second year of self employment.

And this is it. I’ve accomplished my goals, and I’ve taken huge risks. I’ve put myself out there in a way that far outreaches what I could have ever imagined. While doing this, I have found a lot of success. And I have also found a lot of failures.

Some failures were small, tiny things – ways I might tweak a workshop to make it more effective, or how I might present a concept in class differently than I did. Some failures were much larger and more embarrassing, like the failure of my Yoga for Humans project to transition into the larger idea I had for it.

But quite honestly, I think my biggest failure of all this year has been to forget my natural tendencies to work until I drop. When I think of this, I think of my brother. My brother has been self-employed since always. He and I are a lot alike, and so we get along really well – and we also argue really well. He is a music producer, and he is a perfectionist. He is so passionate about music and making people sound their best, and he often calls me, sounding exasperated and worn out, saying things like, “This is the first full day off I’ve given myself in three months.”

When I was working a full time job that was not my passion, I didn’t understand this. Like, just give yourself a day off, dude. Life will go on. That’s why they have a 40 hour work week.

But this was also why I didn’t WANT to work for myself. Because I knew Scot and I are too much alike for me to approach it any differently. And again, I was careful to avoid it in the outset. And then I totally blew that approach this year.

Many of my failures happened because I went from “stay calm, wait for things to happen,” to “make ALL of the shit happen RIGHT NOW.” I pursued many great ideas. But some of the greatest ideas came crashing down because of my lack of focus. When I tried to do everything, I did nothing.

And of course, this is the teaching of yoga. I’m finishing out this year strong with my goals, but I already know that next year will be different. Next year I will walk a more firm line between not doing and doing. Between creating and resting. Next year I will cultivate focus, and a consistent message, and everything I do will be aligned with that message.

Until then, I will nap a lot between classes, and try to find some rest in the whirlwind that will take me through the end of the year. Peace to you in this new found season of creativity – and remember to not overdo it.


4 thoughts on “The Joy and Terror of Self Employment

  1. I love that mantra and I so need to use it! I feel the same. Balancing self employment with rest is really hard… especially since I feel so inspired to be creative, productive most of the time, but when I finally find rest, Oh my goodness I realise how thin I’ve spread myself… Best of luck with finding balance… I’m on that journey too!

    1. Best of luck to both of us! I took the past three days off, and I’m amazed at how utterly exhausted I am – but I know balance is possible. ❤Love to you!

  2. awareness is the first step, right? change is always possible. good luck for your upcoming ventures… and naps!

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