The Blog

The Quiet Revolution

The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.

~ Joseph Campbell

Many of us grew up hearing stories about our immigrant ancestors and their pioneering spirit - how they bravely embraced the unknown and left home, family and friends to pursue a better life in a new country. That better life typically included self-employment. While it can sound romantic, it wasn’t particularly unique for the 19th and most of the 20th centuries.  In 1900, 90% of people still worked in small businesses that remained in the same family for decades.

Things began to change with the Industrial Revolution. People scrambled to align themselves with big companies that promised safe modern working conditions and a secure paycheck, so that by the end of the last century more than 90% of people now worked for someone else.  Chances are you grew up with adults who went off to work in the morning to a job you may not have known much about, and who often returned home tired and grumpy after a long day. When it came time for you to decide on a career, you were probably told to go for a safe and secure job…and if you objected you were reminded that work wasn’t supposed to be “fun”. 

Well, the wheel is turning once again. The Great Recession of the early 2000’s has kick-started a new entrepreneurial movement. It’s a “quiet revolution” led by individuals who are challenging the employment status quo, and technology is on their side.  More people than ever are entering the brave new world of self-employment, in search of greater freedom, flexibility and fulfillment in their work. 

Of course whenever you explore new territory you can expect to encounter detours and obstacles, and being an entrepreneur is no exception. You won’t always get things right the first time. But if you’re committed to learning from your stumbling blocks (your mistakes) and turning them into stepping-stones, you’ll do just fine – and more than likely find a valuable treasure that “neither moth or rust can corrupt, nor thieves break through and steal.”

The Best Job In The World

Purpose is the reason you journey.  Passion is the fire that lights your way.

~ Oscar Wilde

Being your own boss might be even better for you than it sounds.  New research has identified a key ingredient to securing a happy and fulfilling career - working for yourself.

A recent study conducted by academics from the universities of Sheffield and Exeter shows the self-employed both enjoy their work more and find it more rewarding – despite longer hours and less job security – than those who work for others. 

The researchers analyzed data from 5,000 workers in the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand across a number of sectors – including heath, finance, retail, real estate and education.  Self-employed people were happier and more engaged with their jobs than those working in any other profession. They were also more successful in their careers and felt more satisfied with their professional contributions. Comparison of employees across four job grades – non-managerial workers, supervisors, middle managers and senior managers and director – showed that non-managerial company workers were the least satisfied and engaged.

Co-author Professor Ilke Inceoglu, from the University of Exeter Business School, said: “Being engaged in their jobs makes people feel energised and pleased with their own contribution. Measuring how engaged people are in their work is therefore a really useful way to gauge their wellbeing and shows we must move beyond just looking at job satisfaction.” 

Those who work for themselves also report greater opportunities for innovation, enjoy taking on bigger challenges and find satisfaction in meeting higher standards.  Co-author Professor Peter Warr, from the University of Sheffield, notes: “Professional workers who are self-employed really value the autonomy they have. They have the freedom to innovate, express their own views, have influence beyond their own role and compete with other companies and people.”  The study was published in the journal Work, Employment and Society.

The bottom line is this - while self-employment comes with a number of stresses, including long hours and more uncertainty, people who work in this way tend to be happier and even healthier, at least mentally and emotionally. It’s an option worth considering.

Joy In The Here And Now

Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching.

   Satchel Paige

Some people believe that anything new they want to learn or do always must be difficult and approached in a serious manner.  But what would it be like if the opposite were true? What if life was actually meant to be “fun” a good part of the time?

Science suggests that the more enjoyment you experience while learning or doing something the better your brain functions. Having fun improves your work, your relationships, and your quality of life in general.  The more you infuse your activities with joy and enthusiasm, the more you contribute to your world.

Have you become stuck in some of your habits, perceptions or actions?  Do you feel older than your years, or burdened with responsibilities?  Whatever your age or circumstances, you can reconnect with your sense of fun. All it takes is a willingness to be flexible in your attitude.  Flexibility makes room for growth and excitement, and allows you to adapt and thrive in the face of change.  Being flexible enables you to see new opportunities and capitalize on them.

You only have this one life, and it’s way too short to be dragging your unhappiness along now in the hope of better times to come.  Let today be the day you wake up and give your inner child permission to come out and play. Make a conscious choice to enjoy what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, to see humor in all but the gravest situations, and to include a little foolishness in your serious plans.  The happier you are the healthier and more creative you will be, and the more joy, prosperity and blessings will show up for you and for everyone whose lives you touch.

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