Let’s talk about work


It just sounds like hard work doesn’t it?  Perhaps that’s because we have been conditioned to understand that’s what it is.  The Victorian ideal was that hard work is a good thing and we haven’t shaken that off yet.  We all know people who like to tell us how hard they are working, their evidence often being the number of hours they are at the office.

There are two newsletters in the KindredHQ inbox today from the business start up community promoting the idea that every entrepreneur needs to work themselves into the ground in order to be successful.

Are you buying into this?  We’re not so sure.  In fact, this was the sentiment a few days ago here at KindredHQ.

hard work tweet



What is ‘work’ exactly?

The fact is that as independents, we need to be generalists.  It’s not enough to be good at one specialist subject.  I’m not naturally organised, but I’ve had to become at the very least proficient, just to get by.   It certainly feels like hard work. And, in his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell suggests that to become an expert, you need to put in roughly 10,000 hours (that’s three hours a day for ten years).  I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

But does working hard really get you any further? You could decide to work harder: you answer all your emails, you get all the filing done, you get to networking events and you do the obligatory follow up afterwards…

But at the same time, you don’t make time for that coffee with a new contact, or spend time developing your skills. You don’t allow space for serendipity.

Perhaps it’s time to look at what ‘work’ really means, and think about how we can be smarter about it.

‘Hard work never killed anyone.’ (Anon)

That’s simply not true. It is a fact that stress and long hours can make us ill both physically and mentally.  That’s not good at the best of times, but when you work for yourself that’s not a good position to be in.

Many of us chose the freelance life because we wanted to balance out our lives, because despite the fact that we love what we do, we wanted family and friend time and ‘me’ time.  We shouldn’t lose sight of that.

Doing what you love doesn’t feel like work

It’s true! You’d expect us to say that though, wouldn’t you? But you still need to bring in the bacon and if you can’t ‘sell’ your passion you won’t be doing it for long and you’ll be back at a full time job, which will feel like hard work.

Penelope Trunk, of Brazen Careerist writes in her blog:

“…There’s a wide range of things we are passionate about, and there’s a wide range of things we can make money doing. The trick is not to find the thing that allows us to earn the most money or the thing that we are most passionate about. The trick is to find the thing that combines passion and money and stick with it so you get great.”

You are not a failure if you don’t do what you love for a living. You are a practical person who knows that no one can do the stuff they are passionate about if they are worrying about food and rent. Support yourself somehow first, and then explore your passions from there.”

So, what are we really saying?

Ease up on yourself.  Going solo often means that the most pressure comes from ourselves, and our need to prove to the world that we are making a difference, that we can make it work.

But remember why you chose independence in the first place. Being able to admit to yourself that success might not look like it did in your corporate career is a very good place to start.  A good income is not a bad thing to aspire to, but it may not be the ‘be all and end all’.  Success could be that you are able to move your working hours around your family, or learn something new.

Hey. It’s Sunday and I’m blogging for KindredHQ!  It doesn’t feel like work….


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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