Heck, I extoll the virtues of working for oneself here. In fact, it’s the second-most-read post on this site.
But I’ve been rethinking things.
I previously said that the best job for HSPs is to work for oneself. I thought it was that simple. After all, working for yourself means you can control your environment—the temperature, the lighting, the ergonomics, the hours you work, and of course, the work itself.
I still think this is a great option, but it has some challenges. Before quitting your steady job to go it alone, carefully analyze the possible downsides to working for yourself, like these:
Loneliness/lack of social interaction.
When I started working at home, I didn’t think a lack of social interaction would bother me one bit. First of all, I’m an introvert, and love quiet time spent alone. I have my husband and occasional activities with friends, so I thought it was fine. But it’s not. I learned for the first time ever that I need social interaction more than I like to admit. Yes, you can be fulfilled by reading a great book, meditation, taking a walk in nature, and stuff like that, but we need other people to meet our emotional needs. Even if you have a spouse or partner, you probably need more than just them in your life.
So, if you aren’t the type to search out human contact, you may find that you miss the forced interaction from working in an office. (I can’t believe I’m admitting this!) While it may have seemed like an annoyance previously, it was actually good for you.
You could say that fixing this issue is as easy as working from a coffeeshop, joining some Meetup groups, or somehow doing more activities with people, but for some of us, that is easier said than done.
It’s unpredictable (if you’re a freelancer).
If you have a steady job, this doesn’t apply. But if you are a freelancer or solopreneur, having to always look for gigs (i.e., sources of income) is tiring and anxiety-producing. It’s neverending. That can be hard on an HSP who craves stability and calm. But it can also be exciting.
A benefit to working in an office job is that you don’t have to worry about whether you are making money at your job every day (unless you are in sales). You come in to the office and there’s work waiting for you. If there’s not, you can ask for more work, or just kill some time until your boss gives you more. As a freelancer, you don’t have that luxury.
(And yes, I realize I am generalizing office jobs. Not all office jobs are like this.)
Now that you work from home, you don’t have the confines of specific hours of operation, i.e., you don’t have to get your work done between 8am and 5pm or whatever. You can “put it off until later” and do laundry or cook food or watch YouTube videos instead. For some of us, it’s difficult to stay focused. I often feel like I haven’t accomplished enough. It stinks to feel like you underachieved every day.
Work’s never over.
When you work for yourself from home, there is no clocking out. You can work all night long if you want to. If you are anxious about making enough money to support yourself, you need to take steps to make sure you aren’t thinking about work all day long–and take vacations like you would from a normal job.
Why am I telling you this?
Why did I write one post that said you should work from home, then another saying that it’s hard? Because it’s so complicated. There are times I miss having a boss to tell me what to do, so I don’t have to figure it out myself. There are times I miss the simplicity of going to work and coming home and being done with it. I miss having work friends. I miss a steady, uncomplicated paycheck.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that working for yourself will solve all your problems; it might make new ones. I’m working more hours than I did before, and yes, I suppose I technically have more freedom, but I’m not sure I’m happier now than I was before.
My main goal is this: I want you to know that quitting your job and “doing your own thing” isn’t an automatic recipe for happiness. Carefully think about the positive aspects of your office job before jumping into self-employment.