Self-employment is tough shit.
The world likes to celebrate successful entrepreneurship. Just a couple of days ago I was reading an article on Vulcanpost about a 21 year old serial entrepreneur who has already run 5 businesses.
Honestly, I don’t exactly know how to feel about such articles. On one hand, I admit that they are very inspirational. On the other hand though, they often make me feel somewhat dejected at the same time, because they make me look at myself and wonder why, at 30+ years old, I don’t seem to have any form of achievement to my name that I can be honestly proud of.
Apart from being an aspiring freelance writer, I also happen to be self-employed in the sales and service line. Business has not been awesome of late, to be honest, but business expenses still need to be incurred in order to be in business – the irony of it. Flexibility in time management is an awesome perk of the job. But the uncertainty in revenue, as well as all the costs required to remain in business can at times feel like they can outweigh the perks.
So it has been such frustrating times of late, because while I had been busy, I found myself busying with non-revenue generating activities – answering enquries, plenty of coordinating and communicating, following up and resolving issues. It is all part and parcel of the job, no doubt, but a lot of it also feels like a waste of time because there is no income generation.
And with a huge business expense for a subscription coming up, my head almost feels like it’s breaking sometimes.
So I was fretting over it a little and making all those mental calculations in my mind and then fretting some more, and somehow amidst all that I chanced upon a link to an article that someone on social media posted. And it was this.
I would definitely implore you to read it. It was mind-blowing for me and I personally believe it would be able to inspire everyone. I printed the whole thing out so that I can read it over and over again, whenever I need to.
A few days later I was catching up on another episode of “Achieve Your Goals with Hal Elrod” podcast when I learnt from the replacement host that Hal Elrod is undergoing treatment for a rare form of cancer and hence not currently hosting. I was a little taken aback. I’d been following the podcast series on and off for years now so Hal is almost like an online friend. And knowing that someone has cancer never ever goes down well.
Suddenly it seemed like all my troubles are not “real” trouble and all my frustration and concerns appeared unworthy when placed next to Jon’s and Hal’s. I feel humbled when I read about what they have gone through in life and how they have comeback with their “counterpunches”.
I’m not a mopey person, I had never allowed myself to be engulfed in negativity for more than 10 minutes at anytime. However, I do admit sometimes I will look on at some others (especially my peers or those younger) and wonder why it appears like they’ve got it all going in life while I’m still trying to balance my (im)balance sheet and wondering when the next pay check will finally come and how I’m going to hang on till then with all the financial obligations that I have.
I compare my own abilities/personality/educational background/professionalism/looks/dress sense (yes it’s true, because I’m in sales and marketing so it can matter) and sometimes I just don’t get where I am lacking. It can get very demoralising. And then this paragraph from Jon Morrow really hit home –
“The people we call “lucky” are ruled by the same fickle hand of fate as everyone else. The difference: when that hand turns against them, they look around, and they spot the opening.”
I don’t really know what the circumstances surrounding those-whom-I-had-been-comparing-myself-against are, but the above paragraph served more as a reminder to myself. What I need to do is to stop stalking people on social media and wonder why they got so lucky, but to redirect that time, energy and focus into spotting openings for myself. Just as how I’d been working to create more opportunities for myself to be a freelance writer, I now need to do the same for my business.
Have I exhausted all my possibilities? No.
Have I pumped in a hundred percent of my efforts into my marketing activities? No.
Have I spent all my waking moments contemplating ways to improve my business like a hardcore, tenacious entrepreneur? No.
Have I made a lot of sacrifices like all the successful self-employed people have? Not really. Not that I’m trying to busy myself so much I neglect all my family and friends and dog, but no – I don’t think I’ve done enough to say I’m proud of myself yet.
Are my problems a matter of life and death like Jon and Hal? Do I have everything to lose if things do not work out?
No freaking way. Thank God.
So am I really in the position to sit around fretting and making mental calculations in my mind instead of doing something about it?
We all encounter problems in our lives, at various points, at many points. Despite what others think of our problems, at least to us, they are very real. I understand that, so I do not want to downplay any problem that anyone may have because it matters to the person going through it, and that is already enough.
But when we are stuck in our own minds, believing that we are being defeated by the problems and cannot see the light, I think a good way of trying to put things into perspective is to compare our situation to those who’d had it worse. Those who are still hanging in there nonetheless, because the alternative is not an option. Those who have been through it all and emerged triumphant. Surely all of us know someone who is putting up a fight with cancer, or who has a child with special needs, or who IS someone with special needs…
I realised I am already so blessed and fortunate, I’d be an asshole to complain further.
You would probably have the same realisation as me too.
As long as we are alive, healthy and well, tomorrow will present more opportunities for us to do something about our problems. It is up to us to make the moments count.