Mythbusting: “I’ll get lonely working for myself”

Marianne CantwellThis is a guest post from Marianne Cantwell of Free Range Humans who is collaborating with me on some very exciting projects around Screw Work Let’s Play to be revealed soon.

Why working for yourself doesn’t mean working by yourself

You’re a people person. You don’t want to be holed up at home everyday, with only a mewling cat for company. You don’t want to trade in office social life for watching Judge Judy at lunchtime.

You’d quite like to throw in the commute, and get the chance to create a really playful work-life (rather than fruitlessly waiting for it to be handed to you in the form of a job)… but being self employed just sounds too lonely.

You may know other self-employed people who have that lonely solo-lifestyle, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact…

Working for myself has been the most social time of my life.

Here’s why:

1. Once you’ve branched out on your own doing what you love, you choose who you spend time with

Unlike the employed worker, as a player your ‘people’ are not just those who work in your office building. They are incredible people you meet in more places than you can currently imagine.

You’re no longer saddled with people who you wouldn’t otherwise spend 40+ hours a week with. Think about it, you already choose your friends, in a player’s life you get to choose who you see, and you get to choose that every day.

2. When you enter the world of playful self-employment, you have a huge new community – online & face to face.

More and more creative self-employed people are coming together, and they are easier to find than ever before. It’s just up to you to get things going.

When I started working for myself all my friends were in regular employment. I knew no one who was free to be where they chose during the day (except a few journalist friends with odd schedules). Now, most people I spend time with are office-free. We meet for coffee, we chat, and we meet more people.

I’ve made more amazing contacts and friends than I’d ever have met stuck in an office 9-5.

3. You choose your colleagues (or, how to make competitors into collaborators)

It’s not all about just having coffee while others are stuck in regular jobs – you can also make up informal ‘teams’ to come together for different projects you work on… meaning you have colleagues without the hassle of hiring people, or the hassle of forming official ‘partnerships’ or companies.

For example, John and I (along with Selina, another resident play guru at have formed an informal team. We work on each other’s projects, support each others’ work, and come together to run workshops and courses.

That ‘team’ wasn’t planned in advance, it was played out. Our new little team was born after informally meeting up every week, because we enjoyed each other’s company and views.

Within months we went from being each other’s biggest competitors to being colleagues who spur each other on in the up-times, troubleshoot any down days, and love to play with new projects together. Best of all, we chose each other, so we know we get on and can draw on each other’s strengths. Now we find that some of the tasks that felt like hard work when attempted solo, become fun when done in collaboration with our colleagues.

Where can you find your new colleagues?

Places to start are:

  • Twitter (FULL of people working for themselves who’d love to chat or meet up),
  • Your local Jelly (an informal working group where people meet up to work for a day at someone’s house or a café), or
  • A co-working space: for example John and I are members of the The Hub in King’s Cross, London, where members can pop in with our laptops and work (and chat) alongside others anytime.
  • You can also email another solo player whose business you admire, someone you just think ‘I bet they’d be interesting to chat with’.
    Be as friendly and sincere as you really are, and you’ll find the person behind the brand is not an anonymous competitor, but someone in a similar situation to you who (if they have any sense!) would most likely love to chat to another player who understands their world.

Soon, the old idea of spending your day only with people who happen to work in your office building will seem really restrictive. In your new life, the possibilities are endless for having people around you, supporting you, making your days even brighter than before.

Extra tip for beginners

Don’t get hung up on finding your new colleagues before you start – start first, then when you have something going, you have something to talk about, and you can more easily find like-minded people.

The difference from employment is that your new social work-life doesn’t come to you until you build it – but once you’ve built it, you’ll have more people around than ever before… and the satisfaction of knowing you chose them and they chose you.

What’s stopping you now? We’d love to know…

Do you know that you want to escape the life of the 9-5 worker, and launch something on your terms doing something you love? Are you still hesitating? What’s holding you back from making that dream into a reality ? We’d love to know. Complete the 20 second form below to tell us – your response will be completely anonymous.

We’ll try to address your stumbling block in a future blog post and it will also help us (Marianne & John) with the exciting, as yet secret, Screw Work Let’s Play projects to help you get paid to play.

As a thank you, you will receive a free chapter of Screw Work Let’s Play plus a free toolkit to help you get paid to play. You will also receive weekly updates with articles on similar subjects. You can unsubscribe at any time with one click. We will never give your address to anyone else and you will never be spammed. Guaranteed.

(If you’ve already downloaded the chapter & toolkit and you receive our updates, you can leave your response as a comment on this post instead – just name yourself 9to5er if you want to be anonymous)

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