Self Employment: How To Battle The Loneliness
Your creative, soul centred business is up and running. This is everything you ever wanted. It’s the best use of your strengths, skills and talents. You get to be creative, to do detail or the bigger picture. You get to plan and plot and design. You get to share ideas with other creatives. So why does it feel so lonely sometimes?
Because a home-based or self employed business is just that – self and home based. There is no-one to admire your new pyjamas/yoga pants/lounging gear (apart from your loyal Instagram fans); no need to buy those coveted sale price shoes because no-one will see them; no-one to release yourself in laughter with; no kind offers to get you a coffee.
The number one myth about pursuing your passion, particularly if it is a creative one, is that you must be a solitary artist left alone so that your muse is able to visit. Focus and solitude are not the same thing. Humans are better at creative thinking and productivity in an environment where there is a certain level of ambient noise, usually around 70 decibels. Coincidentally, this is the same level of noise found in an average coffee shop. Hooray!
We are curious creatures and we need stimulation to survive. For this, we first need connection. Connection results from engagement and, surprisingly, this doesn’t always mean with other people.
Here are 5 ways in which you can get, and stay connected
1. Get out - Get yourself out of your spare room, studio, kitchen and go and find somewhere else to work.
Co-working spaces -There are co-working spaces in most cities where freelancers are working for different employers on different projects. Since there is little competition and no internal politics, you don’t have to put on a company persona. You can still be your best self and having the chance to explain what you do to others gives you the opportunity to make your identity stronger, according to the Harvard Business Review (Why People Thrive in Co-working Spaces, September 2015). Co-working spaces often involve a membership fee but you can offset that cost against your own business, saving on energy and internet bills.
Coffee shop working - If you can’t afford a co-working space, why not work from your local coffee shop instead? Many people conduct their business here and the proprietors don’t mind as long as you abide by the unwritten rules of buying a drink regularly and something to eat if you are occupying a table at peak hours.
Libraries - They do still exist and you can book a computer or take your own laptop. You could pop out for a coffee, or, if you’re lucky, there might be a café attached. In addition, you might find the answer you’ve been looking for on the shelves – gemstones, the history of fabric, the origin of the colour mauve, folklore, fruits and flowers in season, body art – whatever your speciality is, I bet a Librarian can find you some information on it. Plus, libraries are a beehive of local and regional community information and of course, will have a notice board where you can advertise your workshops, wares and services.
2. Peak during Off-Peak - Work outside of the 9-5 routine. Just because you already have the ‘luxury’ of working from home, doesn’t mean that you need to put in the same core hours as everyone else. You are CEO of yourself, Chief Freedom Officer, and if you want to stay out after the school run or get out before the 8.00am traffic congestion, then do it. Go and have breakfast at the aforementioned coffee shop. If you want to take a Soul Cycle class at 10.30am, go and do it. You will feel more energised, have more focus, reason that you can consume more calories on your return and hit your targets of looking after self. Plus, you will meet other small business owners and home working souls who are also available at that time of the day. They might just want what you offer or know someone else who does. It’s hard not to make a connection when you’re all upside down in kundalini yoga or swinging those Powerhoops.
3. A date with yourself - Sometimes, it’s not other people but yourself that you need to connect with. Julia Cameron, the author of the acclaimed work ‘The Artist’s Way’ created the idea of ‘An Artist’s Date’ where you get to go somewhere, visit someone or something, once a week, purely for the pleasure of doing so. It doesn’t need to be related to your business, it just needs to be fun. The idea is that you notice sights, smells and scenes and use them later in your work. You are allowed to have fun and Cameron argues convincingly that it will replenish your images and inspiration. Make sure that you schedule this in or it will never happen.
4. Where are you at your best? - Talking of places, where do you feel as if you are at ‘your best self’? Whilst out shopping, walking the dog, drinking cocktails, in the bath, fell running? Doing these things is not an indulgence but a contribution to your working life. It gets you out into a community of like-minded people (unless your best place is in the bath) doing similar things as you. When common interests are shared, it’s easy and natural to strike up a conversation: ‘have you signed up for all six classes or just this one?’, ‘oh, you’ve got the latest wearable tech, is it as good as everyone says?’. You don’t need to hustle your business but inevitably, the conversation will revert to how you spend the rest of your time.
5. Grow your tribe - Where are the people with whom you want to mix, spending their time? Where do they go for their inspiration, their downtime, their work time? Where do they naturally gravitate? It is conferences, shows, seminars? Is it galleries, theatres, workshops, bars; the coast, the gym, the great outdoors. These are your people and you need to be with them. Remember, this is one of the reasons you choose to work for yourself, so that you get to make decisions about how you spend your day. And in the wedding industry, we’re lucky enough that these sometimes double as awesome experiences that would be totally indulgent if they weren’t for work…in fact, they are indulgent, but in a fabulous and totally necessary way. Go to the styled shoot to see your creation in reality. Go to the wedding show with an industry friend you only know from online but big up loads on social media. Just say 'yes' to any invitation. This will help you grow your tribe and make connections with people within the industry.
Bonus: don’t forget that you can connect online at the And So To Wed Cafe…need we say more?
Our final tip. Follow these four simple, easy, natural guidelines for making connections:
Be interested and not self-interested.
Think about how you can be of service to others (and not the other way around).
You don’t ever have to ask or answer the question, ‘so what do you do?’. Instead, ask someone what excites them most about the work they are doing now, or what they are choosing to focus their time on.
Always have your ‘taxi light on’ – you are open for business in all situations.
Written by Nicole Kime