On Your Own: Living Life on Your Terms

This newsletter ran in 2006 and touched a nerve with so many readers who wanted to reclaim their lives from dead-end, corporate jobs. I hope it inspires you to open to new possibilities...

Yesterday I spent the afternoon at a shipping party where several of us got together to send out orders from our online store. We had so much fun putting packages together that I'm sure those of you who placed orders will not only receive your product, but a whole lot of good energy when you open the box :). Later on, when the last envelope was sealed, several of us talked about work and the joys of being self-employed. There were common benefits shared -- the freedom that comes from setting our own hours, the ability to work according to our own natural rhythms, and the chance to express our unique, creative talents. Yes, we all agreed, there's hard work -- lots of it -- but there's also the satisfaction of knowing that every single hour invested directly benefits us and the people we care about.

As I drove home, I thought about the concept of self-employment and how so many people who work in corporate jobs dream about working on their own so they can enjoy the benefits mentioned above. As a coach who has supported plenty of corporate employees, I've always felt
that self-employment or virtual freelance/contract work was the wave of the future -- a very near future. I've watched too many people struggle with traffic jams and ridiculous commutes, twisting schedules to accommodate personal needs during work hours, or the frustration of having to check their values at the door of a company that didn't share their ideals. It's painful to see people suffer in silence day after day, doing work that breaks their spirit.

While there are many employees who thrive while working for others (thank goodness - we need you!), there are just as many who don't. With advances in technology, the opportunity to jump ship and take charge of your work life is becoming more of a reality than a dream. And people are jumping. Some do this by setting up their own websites to sell products or services -- just look at the success of eBay! Others use "freelance" type websites to advertise their offerings to an audience who are waiting to respond.

If you dream about working for yourself, I encourage you to move the idea from thought into action with a few key steps:

1. Take a basic business course. Many adult-ed organizations or local universities offer a "Start Your Own Business" type course where you can learn about the basics of planning, bookkeeping, or marketing, in a safe, supportive environment. This is a great way to challenge any preconceived assumptions you may have about yourself as a possible business owner. Learning about the realities of being self-employed will give you a chance to evaluate whether or not being a business owner makes sense for who you are. When looking for a course, make sure you find a successful, well-established teacher.

2. Know what you have to offer. Identify the skills and talents you possess that would be useful to others (trust me, everyone has something to offer). If you're not sure, consider a session or two with a career coach who can objectively help you assess your skill level with appropriate questions and tests. If you discover that you don't have enough experience to offer a viable service just yet, you'll at least know where your interests lie and where to invest in additional training.

3. See what's out there. Spend some time looking through websites like craigslist.com, freelancer.com, or guru.com to see the kinds of services being offered by others. You might be pleasantly surprised to discover that there are people just like you who are already learning a living working for themselves. As you review the listings, take note of several things. First, what words or phrases are being used to describe the type of work that's similar to what you might
offer? Write them down. They'll come in handy if you should decide to create your own listing at some point in the future. Can you locate any pricing information that might help you determine your fees? What qualifications seem to make the most impact?

4. Test the waters. There are some of you reading this newsletter who are ready to see whether or not there might be a market for your services. Why not take a chance and offer them on a part-time basis? Post your skills on one of the websites listed above and see what happens. What have you go to lose? Except maybe your dead-end job :).

While I know there are many factors to consider when working on your own -- health insurance costs, cash flow, or the need to market your services consistently, this newsletter is meant as a source of inspiration, encouraging you to keep your eyes wide open for soul-nourishing work options. If there's one thing I know for sure, it's that when we combine Divine Timing with action steps that honor our soul, things often fall into place. If you're willing to take a bold move toward something you dream about, there's a good chance that the Universe will rise up to support your efforts. And with the power of grace behind you, there's no telling what might happen!

Take Action Challenge

One step. That's all you have to do this week. If you dream about working from home or owning your own business, first affirm:

"I am open and receptive to the power of grace in my life and I asked to be shown clear examples of how this energy is operating in my life now."

Then, start with one step from above and watch for an open door!

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Author Information

Cheryl Richardson

Cheryl Richardson is the author of The New York Times bestselling books, Take Time for Your Life, Life Makeovers, Stand Up for Your Life, The Unmistakable Touch of Grace and her new book The Art of Extreme Self Care. She was the first president of the International Coach Federation and holds one of their first Master Certified Coach credentials.

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