What really makes you happy?

There’s no doubt about it. I’m happier working for myself as a freelancer.  I definitely happier when I’m not trying to navigate the office politics or trying to reconcile a culture that doesn’t align with mine.

But the thing about working for yourself is that it’s often just you, and your emotions. You can hide at the office, but there’s no hiding when you’re working at home on your own.  At first, it’s like complete freedom – whoopee, I don’t have to conform any more, but when the reality comes crushing in it can be terrifying.

We’ve learnt much about what makes for a happy and successful independent career through our community here at KindredHQ.  We probably don’t need to tell you that being your own boss makes you happy, but perhaps we should look more deeply at why that is, and why real freedom means a very different mind set.

1. Setting your own expectations

We are conditioned to comply with the expectations of our families, friends and employers.  Even when those expectations are met at the expense of our own happiness. Sometimes, they are realistic, but sometimes they are unreasonable.

It is these expectations that keep us ‘toeing the line’, and in the case of your employer are how you are assessed, benchmarked and kept within your box.  The pressure can be so strong that you even feel responsible when you fall short. For many people, this experience is crushing and they never achieve their full potential.

Being your own boss allows you to draw a line in the sand and say where your boundaries are and what you want to achieve. You can change your mind and you can set the bar as high or as low as you want.  Only you really know what is important to you and what it will take to make you feel like you’ve done a good job.

2. Being rich and poor at the same time

Many of us take a ‘pay cut’ when we go freelance/independent.  Making a decision to live with ‘just enough’ is hugely liberating and letting go of those financial commitments that have held you back from being free can make a very big difference.

The freedom to be happy without all the material, extraneous possessions that once signified our success is one of the bonuses of being able to decide what really makes you happy.

carpediem3. Laughing with yourself

Being able to laugh at yourself, your foibles and idiosyncrasies is another sign that you are really free.  But there’s nothing quite like the comedy of real life offices to reassure you that you’ve made the right choice in deciding to go it alone.

4. Being extraordinary

We human beings are essentially lazy.  We can be quite happy to go with the flow.  Except that if you look just below the surface, most people aren’t that happy to be ordinary.

It’s not the amount of work that often makes us unhappy but the frustration at not being able to do it to our best ability.

We all have a right to be happy. But often, the corporate world robs us of the right to be individually happy by trying to squeeze us into roles and cultures that aren’t right for us. One of the best things about working for yourself is that you can choose to be extraordinary, without fear that you are going to show up colleagues, or deviate from the average.


Noone said that work meant having to give up on happiness.  You can make your job the best one in the world and be happy at the same time. Promise!






Who is Alex Butler

Hello, I'm Alex Butler and I founded the KindredHQ community and blog back in 2011 after I re-started a freelance career. I LOVE freelancing and I wouldn't swop the freedom, control and joy of working for myself for anything. But I realised how much I missed the company and energy of other people - of having a team around me. So, I got a few people together one day with our laptops, a jar of coffee and some jelly babies and we sat and worked together one afternoon. We've been doing that every week in London, UK since then! I am still 100% freelance and I like to share the everyday highs and lows of being a freelancer here on the blog.

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