As any of you who have worked with me, or followed my career antics will testify, I like to think that I’m disruptive. But I’d never written into the 10-year career plan (alright, I never had that plan) that I would do the same with my own career.
The fact is that, although we might like to think so, we aren’t really individuals making decisions in a bubble that doesn’t include the rest of the world. Our family situations and wider events come together to create a context against which we make these decisions.
“I go to seek a Great Perhaps.”
― François Rabelais
It turns out that there are millions of us who have turned to independent working. It’s difficult to quantify the exact amount of freelancers/independents the UK and Europe, but in the US where MBO carried out an important ‘State of Independence’ report, they reckon there are about 17 million people who are fully fledged independents – expected to reach at least a quarter of the US workforce by 2020.
The meaning of life?
I don’t need to tell you why you work (or would prefer to work) like this. There is an increasing movement towards a more autonomous lifestyle, one in which we are totally in control and where we question why it is necessary to accept the norms of corporate life.
In case there is anyone who reads this blog who still thinks that “the company man” still exists, he doesn’t. As someone who spent her last 5 years as an employee in the UK Civil Service, you have to accept that when the public sector – the archetypal ‘job for life’ make swathes of people redundant – there probably isn’t such a thing anymore. The job security, pension, the benefits that a company lifer of my parents’ generation could expect simply do not exist.
To be honest, the reason that I started KindredHQ was because I realised when I started freelancing again that the stigma of working on one’s own is all but gone. I bet some of the most talented people you know are independent.
I’ve begun to wonder whether this way of life is like taking drugs. I’ve had enormous highs when I can’t sleep for the excitement of getting up and getting going on some project. And that seems to help numb the inevitable days of hopelessness when I can’t find the creative energy or the money to complete my latest project. It is the best adrenaline rush I’ve ever had.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m scared senseless many days. I’m worried that I’ll run out of energy or ideas or clients or money. But when friends ask me how I am, I can look them in the eye and say, ‘never happier’.
We have to take responsibility for ourselves. The way we work has changed and the knock-on effects are changing our societies forever. You might not choose this path to independence; it might not be your decision. But believe me, this is just the beginning of our little revolution and we are the pioneers.