Monday, February 28, 2011

Being Your Own Boss

I get a lot of questions about how I stay motivated as an independent worker, being self-employed. My friends who are traditionally-employed often lament their "chains" but at the same time, many of them seem slightly in awe of the discipline, self-motivation and initiative it takes to succeed outside of the corporate rat race.

"I don't know how you do it. I would never get anything done." I hear this all the time, and I always smile to myself. Partly because, yes, it's nice to be perceived as having some secret, or a special skill that eludes the general population. Mostly because I know there is no secret, no skill involved that isn't also involved in working for someone else. At least that's true for me.

Oh, you still want my work-from-home secrets?

1. Do something you love. Most days that is all the motivation I need. I love writing and I would be doing it anyway, even if it couldn't be my job.

2. You don't exist in a void. I still have deadlines and colleagues and professional commitments that I need to uphold. It helps add structure to my working schedule.

3. You still have to make money. Never underestimate the power of economic reality. On the days when I don't want to put my butt in the chair, I simply remind myself that work=money in a much more direct and explicit way than it ever did when I was a salaried employee. How much work I do matters day to day, not just month to month or over the course of a year.

4. Reward yourself. I am my own boss, which means no one is looking over my shoulder to criticize, but no one is there to praise the good work, either. I celebrate significant accomplishments and met goals with small treats. Cupcakes. A movie. Dinner out. Something to show that I appreciate me!

How do you stay motivated at work, whether you're in a home office, or someone else's?

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