These days, everyone talks endlessly about leaving the workforce. There are people who quit their jobs to travel, start their own business, or to just see where life takes them. Lots of people quit their jobs because they don’t want to work for anyone and they’d rather not have someone tell them how to spend their time 9-5, Monday through Friday. People want to make their own schedules and wake up whenever they want. They want freedom.
Besides the fact that a lot people who go on to be self-employed end up trying to set their hours back to 9-5 and end up working for their clients, they say they wouldn’t trade it for the world. Because even though self-employment and entrepreneurship can end up looking similar to the 9-5 life, the difference is this: they get to have agency over their lives. But is that REALLY the difference??
If quitting your job was easy, we’d all be unemployed because who the heck wants to go to work all the time?! Not me. But, it turns out, quitting isn’t actually more difficult than having agency over your own life.
Let me tell you what the real hard thing is: being your own boss, especially when you haven’t quit your job. Why? Because it takes balls to run your life regardless of who’s in charge of your work schedule. It takes difficult conversations, self love, and discipline. This is the reason people hate their jobs and either quit to escape the hard conversations with themselves and others or just stay unhappily employed and grumpy.
Not all of us want to quit our jobs, but that does not mean we need to be miserable. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to start a company but wants to feel like you’re the boss of your own life, I’ve got something for ya!
Five ways to become your own boss without quitting your job:
Do the things that bring you joy each day
How are you spending your time? Do you get home from work and plop on the couch for the rest of the night? Is that truly what you want to do be doing each day? If not, it would be a good idea to change that. Doing the things you love each day will give your mindset a boost and energize you.
What are your hobbies? If you “don’t have any,” think about the things that make you happy or the goals you want to achieve in your personal life. And incorporate those things into your daily life. Just because you’re not able to exercise or read or dance (or whatever) during the day at work, does not mean you’re doomed and cannot do these things at all, ever.
And this also applies to work hours. What are you doing during your work hours? We all know we’re not glued to our screens every single day we work. Are you scrolling on social media during your work “down-time”? Are you complaining to your work bestie about Susan and engaging in office gossip? Unless these bring you joy and elevate your life, it would in your (and Susan’s) best interest to limit that.
Stop expecting and start demanding
Have you ever been annoyed at your boss because you expected them to have remembered you requested the day off 2 months ago but instead they scheduled you to attend a meeting? How dare they be so inconsiderate?! I know, I know. But that’s partially on you, especially if you didn’t remind them of your time off.
You see – though you are important and you matter, the world does not run based on your needs so people are generally not thinking about them 24/7. Reminding your boss before you take your days off and telling him or her that you’re not available attend the meeting because you requested the day off on such-and-such date would be more helpful than simply being annoyed.
And when I say “stop expecting and start demanding” I’m not saying to go all Samuel L. Jackson on people. What I mean is that you’ve got to advocate for yourself. Wanting people to meet the expectations you’ve set for them (usually without even telling them, if we’re being honest) is a straight path to disappointment and not being the boss in your own life.
I am the queen of follow-up and reminders, especially at work. And there’s no shame in my game because I’ve learned that assumptions and expectations can really put a damper one’s day. Don’t ruin your own day, friend.
Take care of yourself
We need to take care of ourselves. You know this. I know this. The whole world knows this. So why don’t we just do this?! The mystery remains unsolved (actually, it’s been solved by psychology but mysteries make for better copy).
You know the drill. If you want to be your own boss, you need to make sure you’re in good health and spirits to be able to make the choices that will improve your life. By eating nutrient-dense food, staying hydrated, and making sure you stay active everyday, you’re preparing yourself for being the boss that you are. When you feel good, you exude confidence and poise.
And this doesn’t just apply to your body – your mind needs some love as well. Though you can really improve your mood through diet and exercise, working on your mindset is what’s really going to sustain those results over time. Practicing gratitude for the things you already have and making sure you’re constantly checking in with yourself to see how you’re feeling are the ultimate forms of self-care.
Implement personal boundaries
There’s been a lot of talk about personal boundaries lately, and rightfully so. Implementing personal boundaries is probably one of the most direct ways to make sure you’re being the boss of you. Personal boundaries are the limits we set with other people, which lets them know which things we find acceptable and which things we find unacceptable in their behavior towards us.
If you’re really wanting to get a hold of your life, work, schedule, and free-time without needing to quit your job or run away, personal boundaries are a must. Setting boundaries at work can be really challenging. Why? Because the conversations around boundaries are difficult to have. Telling your boss that you cannot stay at the office past 5pm to do the project they just put on your desk at 4:30pm can feel scary. Why? because they’re paying you money and you need said money to pay your bills.
That does sound really “blackmail-esque,” doesn’t it? Allowing someone to have a hold on you like that isn’t healthy because then you’re constantly in their debt. The fact is this: your job needs you just as much as you need your job (no matter what your boss may say) because having someone to get the work done is way better than not having someone to do the work. Speaking up and letting folks know when they’re infringing on your personal time is going to save you a lot of irritation.
This also goes for your personal relationships. If you’re trying to live your best life and workout before or after work but your spouse or your mom won’t let you be great, it’s time to pull out the big guns – I mean – boundaries! A simple “I’d love to chat/hangout/help you, but right now I need to finish my workout” will do wonders. Remember: people will only respect boundaries that were established in the first place. Don’t be shy about it.
Recognize that everything is temporary
Everything is temporary. Even the things that feel permanent. Here’s a fact: no one’s getting out of here alive. We’re all going to die someday and knowing that death is imminent in one way or another, at one time or another, can be all you need to take control of your life. Oftentimes, we tend to get in the weeds of our circumstances and feel like every decision we make is the end all be all.
But no decision is final. How so? Because things change and people die. Okay, okay, I’ll stop talking about death now. My point is that you can choose to reverse decisions or change your mind completely. If you hate your job, you can get a different job. If you don’t like your lifestyle, you can change it. If you start a business and hate it, you don’t have to keep running it.
You have the power of choice. And nope, choices aren’t easy. But they are possible. If you don’t like your circumstances, see what you can do to change them. Maybe you’ll need to start applying to jobs (yes, very annoying, ugh) or sell your company or your house or wake up at 5am or start making healthier choices. These things aren’t easy but it doesn’t mean you cannot do them.
It’s easy to judge yourself for changing your mind – you may worry that people see you as weak or unreliable. But changing your mind is how you change your life. I took a job and stayed for 3 months and quit (in typical millennial fashion) because I didn’t love it and I knew I could leave. People judged me till the cows came home but if I stayed, I would’ve been miserable. If you want to be your own boss and control your own life, don’t be miserable just to make other people feel better.
Go out there and live your life like everything is temporary.
You don’t need to quit your job to be your own boss
You just need to be willing to have difficult conversations with yourself and people around you. You need to ask for more because you deserve it. You need to take care of your mind and your body. You need to implement personal boundaries. You need to stop judging yourself for changing your mind. You need to realize you have the power to make changes toward a life that you feel excited to wake up to each day.
And you can do all of that while being gainfully employed and working for someone else in order to provide for yourself and your family (if that’s what you want, of course). Don’t allow the highlight reels of social media make you think you need to quit your job in order to be happy and in control of your schedule and, ultimately, your life.
Also, don’t just exist. LIVE. Because this rock we’re on will keep hurdling through time and space whether you live or don’t.
Phew, that was a heavy one. But I want to hear from you. What did you think of this post? What are other things you do to make sure you’re being the boss of YOU? Leave me a comment!