So much of what I learned about being the boss of my own life was from watching my parents, who founded the first privately-owned Vietnamese newspaper in the Pacific Northwest.
Here are 5 lessons I learned that can help you become the boss of your own life
Lesson 1: Love doing the work as much, if not more, than the product of the work itself.
We spend so much of our time doing the work. So, it’s really important that you enjoy the process and not just the outcome. I hear from some people that they are so relieved when the work is done and they dread starting to work again. That’s a bad sign. I am certain my father preferred the days preparing the newspaper more than the day the newspaper came out because by then, he was already thinking of the next issue. As for me, I started my own business so I could focus my energy on writing. I love the process of turning my original content into learning experiences.
Lesson 2: Choose who you work with, don’t do things alone.
This is easier to do when you are an entrepreneur versus when you are an employee. Working with people you collaborate well with can make a huge difference in terms of your effectiveness and feeling a sense of control over your life. For those of you who are entrepreneurs, remember, you get to choose. If you’re a manager and you have team members who you don’t think are a good fit, don’t feel guilty about letting them go. Even when you are an employee, be intentional about who you collaborate with. From the get-go, I knew I would work with a team (even if that meant paying them out of my own pocket). I knew that working with team members would enrich whatever I do. Even if you’re a solopreneur, you can choose your partners who help you serve your clients. Having collaborators keeps me accountable. I know we are working together on a shared purpose vs if I was working alone.
Lesson 3: With ups come downs, so be prepared to absorb the bumps financially.
A bad economic downturn can make you feel you’re really out of control. One way to prepare for possible downturns is by saving money. My experience of running the newspaper with my family during the 2008-2010 recession forever instilled in me a frugality that I carried even when I was an employee at well-resourced organizations. This enabled me to have the savings that gave me the financial freedom to invest in my own business. Save during the good times so you can weather the bad times. That approach helped me tolerate my significant losses in my second year of business. It also allows me to remain conservative despite significant gains as I enter my third year.
Lesson 4: Appreciate the value of freedom, and recognize the emotional cost of being micromanaged.
When I told my father I was going to leave my executive job at a remarkable nonprofit to start my own company in the middle of a pandemic, I was worried he would disapprove. Instead, he said, “I’m so happy for you. By having your own business, you are in control and you will have freedom.” I feel that now that I have my own company. Working for micromanagers in the past took a costly emotional toll on my confidence and sense of self-worth. So if you have a bad client, remember you can choose not to take their money. When you’re an employee, work for those who trust you and give you the freedom to do your job.
Lesson 5: Ask for help, so you can be in control of what kind of help you get.
At the start of my business, I had some people offer to help me by introducing me to free work for their team. That was their idea of helping me, but it wasn’t what I needed. I learned to be very specific about the kind of referrals to potential clients I’d like to get and I even provided an introduction text to help people help me. When you’re the one asking, you can be more specific. Otherwise, you may just take what people offer to you instead of what you need.
Which of these lessons resonates with you the most to help you become the boss of your own life? I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments section. If this was helpful, please share it with a friend or post it on social media.