In the world of work, we expect to be paid in proportion to the time, effort, credentials, and experience we bring to the job. Employers promise that and even deliver it much of the time.
The job itself isn’t guaranteed, of course, but while you’re in the job, there’s an assurance that if you work long and hard, gather more education and training and experience, then you’ll make more money. Overtime, raises, promotions, bonuses, more days off—do more and you’ll get more.
Hell, you get a paycheck even if all you do is show up and look like you’re working. We’ve all worked with people like that, right?
But when you’re in business, there’s none of that. Actually, it’s better than that. And worse.
Nothing is in proportion. You can dream up something small-yet-nifty over a late morning latte, build it after lunch, put it on the web by dinner, and have a thousand bucks in PayPal by morning. Or you can work your ass off, burning the midnight oil for months, and earn nothing at all.
You can invest a fortune in training and certification or launch your business with a career’s worth of experience behind you, and not even earn minimum wage, forget the standard “salary commensurate to education and experience”.
This may seem obvious, but I’m meeting too many folks who’ve bought into the hype that being your own boss is the way to riches. It can be…buuuut maybe not. So let’s be clear about working outside the world of work—
There’s no guaranteed outcome, ergo no guaranteed income
Having your own business is a challenging, rewarding, and incomparable experience. It is, as Nona says, a spiritual practice. It’s a game of guesswork and wonder and wait-and-see and WTF. A full clip of shots in the dark.
Some folks embrace that open-endedness, some folks are crippled by it. I struggle with it often and a lot. After talking it out with some mutually-minded friends, it comes to this—
Our work history, resume, CV, diplomas, transcripts, and case studies are artifacts of what HAS happened.
A business plan and its action plans, marketing plans, and income projections present what CAN happen.
But there is nothing, not one thing, in all that came before or is now that can tell us what WILL happen.
Despite all the proof and and all our prep, there’s no promise…and folks like me stop short when we can’t see what’s coming next.
What good is all the evidence when we have no faith?
People talk about crossroads and paths not taken, blah blah, but I vote for dropping “paved road” concepts when we talk about being in business.
It’s like driving backroads at night. In a car that has a Magic 8 Ball for a transmission and fortune cookies for the GPS.
I wonder about folks who eagerly take chances. Do they trust the Divine will give a thumbs up, that they can create the result they want, or both?
Are they unfamiliar with failure and disappointment, immune to them, or just don’t care? Do they ignore peril, don’t recognize it, or just don’t care?
I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve stepped into the Unknown on faith.
Been pushed off the edge by other people or circumstances, sure. Been so frustrated I took a running screaming flailing leap if only to relieve the pressure of indecision? Yup.
Baby-stepped into the ether one unnoticed tiptoe at a time, so busy working I forgot to worry? You bet.
Ever rolled your eyes and stomped on out there? The Oh, Whatever! method? Wow, me too!
But trusting the Divine to support my steps? Trusting myself to improvise if she didn’t? Surrendering to whatever result? Willing to be surprised?
My big realization for July? I live in a hostile world. I await distress and expect disaster. It’s all in my head and, as you’d guess, it’s no fun at all.
With that, I’ve found I don’t hold a universal trust that leaps of faith require. It’s something I’ll have to consciously cultivate.
But in the meantime, I have stuff to do :-)
Workaround: I’m shifting attention from the bits outside my control to the bits within it. Here’s a simple mantra I’m trying on* —
The process is the prize
Plan from the proven
Step into the plan
Measure (only) at milestones
Freely refresh the goal
* Big love to Victoria Brouhard, who taught me whether to start a project, not just how to finish, and what deserves my attention.