“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.”
– Richard Branson
This week marks the four month anniversary of me not having a “real job.” In honor of this, I’ve decided to share a few things that I learned during this time:
- You don’t have to think big.
Every method that I’ve used to generate an income has been pathetically low brow. Even some of the cooler gigs, like web design, aren’t particularly ambiguous. Most of the jobs that I’ve done are related to my interests, like writing and coding, and have felt more like an extension of my hobbies than actual work.
- You become more responsible with money.
Back when I worked for someone else, I spent recklessly. Making stupid purchases were no big deal, since I was always guaranteed a steady income stream. When you earn $10 an hour no matter what quality of work you do, you have no respect for money. When you actually have to hunt down a client and put in your best effort, you develop a special bond with your earnings.
- You become more responsible with your work.
At my old job I put in an acceptable level of effort. I wasn’t the worst employee, but I wasn’t the best either. If I screwed up, someone else would solve the problem. As such, there was no pressure for me to try hard. Now I’m responsible for every action I make. Because of this, I always have to do my best. A “Case of the Mondays” is death.
- You fail, a lot.
For one of my business ventures I decided to start selling 70’s and 80’s comic books on eBay. I went out, bought a mountain of old Savage Sword of Conan and Master of Kung Fu magazines. I still have almost all of them. I also decided to write a satirical eBook about monetized blogging, but ended up shelving it. Of everything I’ve tried doing, only two or three things have actually worked out.
While I enjoy doing what I do now, I don’t think it’s for everyone. Being self-employed is both incredibly time consuming, and a huge responsibility. In all honesty, having a regular job is a lot easier; abet far less rewarding. Still, I’d much rather be my own boss and set my own hours than waste my time taking orders from someone else.