You know the all too common question in job applications and at job interviews:
“Do you like to work on your own or as part of a team?”
This is one of the questions that most people now know what to answer to please the interviewers and maybe score a few points. You say that you "like” both and “strive” in both environments! Of course. However, when you run your own business, and from home, you are very likely to be working on your own the vast majority of the time. What’s your real preference?
When I started my coaching and speaking business two years ago, I was ecstatic about working on my own, for this is truly my preference. I was super excited to work on my financial independence as well as my living independence, having the freedom to schedule my own tasks and to work on my own time. I was even more excited because I would get paid to do what I really love. And that’s another important usual difference between working for someone else in an office full with people and for yourself at home: the nature of what you do. Most people who start their own business have decided to do something they are passionate about. They want to make a living from their passion. This is all fine and dandy. In fact, I’d say that living your passion is the most exciting, inspiring and contributing work someone could do. For me, passion is the heart-rooted energy to express your Self in service to the world. What happens then, when the isolation and loneliness of working from home creeps in and eats away at your passion?
Studies have shown that isolation can be responsible for a range of psychological effects, including anxiety, aggression and memory impairment. Whether you are a lone ranger or a team player, sooner or later, your enthusiasm will decrease, your performance will be affected and less and less people will benefit from your work. Here are five simple things you can do to avoid the descent to solitary doom and gloom.
1- Identify the true degree of isolation necessary for certain tasks
When I was writing my book, I felt the quasi-constant need to be in my “writing bubble”. Working on my own was not only my preference for my style of work but most importantly for my type of work. However, even then, I did not need to be isolated all the time because I just could not write intensely all the time. Plus, I still had a business to run. Whenever the intensity of the task is less demanding in terms of concentration, take the opportunity to do it in an open environment. Working your marketing strategy, doing admin tasks, doing research online could be carried out at your local library, in the park, with a buddy or join a mastermind group. Unless you want a career as a hermit and dream to live in a Himalayan cave, you must make the conscious choice to go out of your home to carry out these particular duties that don’t really require you to be isolated.
2- Get your mind and body outside of the box
The great thing about getting out and breaking isolation walls is that it naturally opens up your mind. Many stories in my book came from personal encounters, countless ideas sprung in my mind while I was looking at people randomly, walking the dog, chatting with a friend or even shopping! Connecting with the “outside” world will only enrich your work. Writers, bloggers, painters, designers and other creative souls who create work purely on their own must take time out to get inspiration from others and the world. Don’t confuse busyness with quality work. You are never too busy to do better.
3- Get emotional! Re-connect with your “reason why” to be in service to the world
Maintaining your passion is reconnecting with your reason “why”. And you can only maintain what you already have. Why are you running this business again? What change in the world are you contributing towards? If you don’t know, get out there and find your “reason why”! Now, an important caveat: your reason why isn’t rational; it’s very much emotional. So, let’s say you are a dog-sitter, your “reason why” to maintain your passion would not be “bringing food on my table three times a day” but rather “caring for and bringing happiness to as many dogs as possible.” See the difference? There will always be unemotional reasons, however these will not come from your heart-rooted energy and will not motivate you to keep your business going; you may as well spend your time doing something you don’t enjoy.
Do whatever is necessary to get you emotional about what you do. As the dog-sitter in our example, you could:
- watch pet programmes,
- go to kennels and witness the amount of dogs in need of care and happiness,
- pay a visit to your local dog shelter
- join an online community of dog lovers and carers
- read articles on abandoned pets
- interview your local vet about dog negligence
- connect with other dig-sitters
Every time I need to reconnect with my passion, I watch the news: there is already something that upsets me about how things are done and the state of the world; all because most people don’t or can’t live their passion to make the world a better place. I go back to my work with newfound inner fire!
4- Add non-work related social commitments to your life
If your home-run business is to make delicious tomato sauce and pack them for the resellers, a good option for you is to break the loneliness and isolation by scheduling social commitments with friends, family and other social groups related to your hobbies and interests outside of work.
5- Be part of a dream team
If your preference is to be part of a team, you may want to review the structure of your business and choose to be in a partnership. Many coaches can’t deal with working alone and have founded limited partnerships instead of being sole traders. The important thing is to be part of the right team for you, choose partners with the same or a complementary passion and “reason why”. I chose to work with people on several projects. Yes, I admit, I do enjoy being part of a team after all!