Maybe this sounds familiar. You have an idea of running a business. You get your business logistics set up, get a few clients, earn a few bucks, and you feel like you are on the right track.
Then, sometime later—maybe six months, maybe two years, maybe longer—your business is stagnant, you’re not happy with the money you’re making, and you’re not in love with being in business for yourself anymore. You start to think about putting on a suit, polishing up the resume, and looking for a “job job.”
There are many reasons you may have wanted to work for yourself. One of the big ones for me—and I hear it from a lot of clients and colleagues—is freedom. Freedom to choose your hours, the projects you work on, who you work with, and create a lifestyle and business that work for you, rather than you being a “servant of work.”
The problem with freedom is that sometimes it’s actually pseudo-freedom.
Pseudo-freedom is a lack of total commitment to yourself and your business that keeps you from being truly free. You think you’re committed, and yet you have one foot, or maybe just a toe, out the door. This escape-hatch thinking ultimately doesn’t serve you, even though it may seem harmless enough as you’re doing it.
Commitment, ironically enough, is the ticket to true freedom. Let me give you an example.
When I was in coaching school, I had a mentor who taught me how to be a coach, helped me to set up my business, and get my first client. As I struggled that first year to define what kind of coach I wanted to be; who I wanted to work with; and what issues I wanted to help clients with; I was only half-present. Conceptually, I wanted to run a business and took steps to do so, yet I also spent time looking through the want ads fantasizing about what I could do if the business didn’t pan out.
With one foot out the door, I struggled for longer than I had anticipated. I’ve seen many solo entrepreneurs fall into the pseudo-freedom trap. Committing to be present where you are, to dig in and do the work, is what actually gives you the freedom you crave.
A few years back, Starbucks had coffee cups with quotes on them. I loved this one so much that I have it on my bulletin board:
The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating—in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life. – Anne Morriss
Here’s to you being committed—truly, deeply, reverently—to your business and your actual freedom. With commitment, all things are possible.