Sunny days were the best of days and the worst of days when I was working my 8-to-5 corporate engineering job.
They were the best of days because it was a whole lot easier to drag my worn-out 24-going-on-54-year-old self out of bed on days in which the sun was shining through the window. At least on the sunny days, I didn’t have as many “I’d rather die than get out of this bed” thoughts creeping into the forefront of my mind, always accompanied by the nauseating feeling of dread arising in the pit of my stomach that evidently indicated I was about to endure another 9 hour day in the confines of my bleak office.
At the same time, sunny days were the worst of days. They were the absolute worst in the way that they reminded me that I was stuck indoors—stuck in a life that I hated. Stuck like a “free-range” chicken—able to roam around with the other chickens but never allowed leave the enclosed stall and step out into the light of day. And although invisible to my co-workers, I distinctly felt the iron-clad shackles chaining me to a life of misery and squashing my hope of freedom and self-expression.
The truth is, I was a corporate prisoner in a prison of my own making. There of course were no shackles—no fence, no contract, no barriers. I could have walked out the door into the sunshine and never come back at anytime I chose. But even though my legs could have easily made the trip, my mind wasn’t ready to make that leap until 3 years later.
I am an entrepreneur because I want to be free. I’m free to live my life exactly the way I want. I’m free to create. Free to express myself. Free to set my own schedule. Free to make my own rules. Free to blaze my own trail in life instead of following someone else’s. And when I was working for someone else, access to that sense of freedom felt denied.
What I’ve learned in retrospect is that it doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to put your life of freedom on hold until you quit your job. In fact, you shouldn’t. Being unhappy (or miserable, in my case) is not helping you reach your ultimate goal of self-employment. (If it was, I would be the first to recommend it.)
Here are 5 ways to gain more personal freedom by moving towards what you DO want for your future instead of focusing on what you DON’t want in your current job…
#1: Remind yourself that your job temporary
Your current job is not a life-time position. You didn’t sign a til-death-do-you-part agreement to stay there until the grim reaper comes to get you. Nor is your job your whole identity. Your job is merely something that you’re currently doing so that you can provide a living for yourself and/or your family until you’re in a more ideal situation to quit and work for yourself—it’s temporary. Instead of thinking of your job as a setback standing in between you and your dreams, think of it as the investor that’s contributing to your brighter future.
#2: Start your side business RIGHT NOW
Nothing will give you more hope that you can eventually quit your job than if you see money coming in the door through your side business. If you haven’t already started a business on the side of your regular job, it’s time to start one now. It doesn’t have to be perfect and it doesn’t have to be the business you want to do for the rest of your life, but you have to start somewhere.
The key is to start small and start now with your side business. Set up your business website, tell your friends, start marketing and get a buzz going. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll make money and the sooner your part-time business will become a full-time gig. Then you can kiss the job-world goodbye forever.
#3: Focus on why you’re there
You’re at your job for a reason. Most likely it’s because you need and/or want money for something (bills, food, family, debt, vacations, car, house, etc). Reframe your current work situation and start to focus on why you’re there. In all honesty, you could walk out the door at any moment but you’re not for some particular reason. Whatever that reason is, concentrate on feeling grateful that you have the money you need to do what you want to do. Try to spend your mental energy appreciating the fact that you have a job and are making a living instead of hating your day-to-day circumstances.
#4: Surround yourself with like-minded people
All entrepreneurs need to surround themselves with like-minded people. If you’re stuck in a rut where you only interact with co-workers, church friends, or family members who don’t understand your entrepreneurial desires, it’s time to branch out. Join a mastermind group with other small business owners. Go to Meetup.com today and find a group of like-minded individuals. Connect with other entrepreneurs who are in a similar situation as you. Nothing will provide as much support and hope as spending time with other people who truly understand what you’re going through.
#5: Accept your current situation as is
Have you heard the saying, “What you resist persists”? This means that if you fret, worry, complain or even sink into a minor depression, this will not get you closer to your ultimate goal of quitting your job to work for yourself. In fact, struggling against the reality of the situation just makes everything worse.
Instead, accept your current job situation as it is. Embrace your present circumstances and plot your course towards a better future. Every time you practice acceptance, you are gaining more personal freedom and taking back control of your life and your happiness.
What I know now that I didn’t know when I was working a job was that being miserable was a choice. Unfortunately, I was making that choice every day, but you don’t have to. If you want more tools on how to cultivate more personal freedom in your life, check out the book The 4 Agreements by Miguel Ruiz.