How To Fail At The Self-Employed Life

And possibly life in general...

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Could it be that part of thriving in life is knowing what not to do?

I’ve been self-employed for 5+ years and have made my share of mistakes. But, I have also moved into a new paradigm with some wisdom on what not to do if you want to thrive in business and life. Don’t you love those down in the trenches life lessons.

If you want to struggle through the hard way on your own then feel free to follow the list below. If not learn from my mistakes dear friend.

Ways to fail and fail hard at self-employment…

Try to Please Everyone

My fellow people pleasers out there I’m calling you out! Yes, I see you.

Whatever product or service you are offering is not for everyone. Your story and personality are not going to authentically connect with everyone either. And that’s completely ok.

Own your story and who you are and what you have to offer that’s different. What’s your USP (unique selling point)? There is no one thing that makes you You. It is a combination of your traits and experiences meshed together. And no one else has that combo. You can’t order up a number 5 of you off the dollar menu!

Sure you can steal like an artist but add your own flavor to what you do and please your tribe of people that just get you. Everyone else is not your audience. Let them go.

Sit All Day Every Day

Ok, many of us have probably seen the study floating around online about sitting is the new smoking with the surge of standing desk products left in its wake. While that study may have sounded a bit extreme, it is logical that sitting on our backsides all day is not good for our minds or our figures.

I actually am pro standing desk, wrote a post about it here, but that is not the only way to avoid the negative side effects of too much sitting. Brainstorm ways to fit in more standing and movement into your day.

Don’t Wear Pants…Ever.

The ability to work from home, and not wear pants, is like a right of passage to the self-employed. And some days I say stay home in your recliner and sleepwear and embrace this right. But, on most days I suggest getting dressed and treating your business like a real job.

It just makes you feel better. Like you can conquer more and contribute well when you are dressed for success. Put on pants and get out of the house from time to time.

Which brings us to the next potential failure point…

Stay In One Place

Staying in one place to work can get boring and be a real drag. We can get in a regular routine which helpful in some ways can really suck the creativity right out of you. There’s a great big world out there! (Says the gal who sold everything except 3 suitcases and hopped on a plane to another continent to reinvent her life!)

Continent switching is not a requirement. Simply stepping out on your patio or walking to the closest cafe can help you solve problems and brainstorm new ideas. The key is to notice what’s around you like you have never noticed it before.

Try To Balance Work And Life Perfectly

When you are self-employed, your business is often your life and your life often your business. Balancing everything is a myth. Running a business, especially one you are passionate about, becomes part of who you are.

The self-employed among us are often adventurous. Ones who dare to do life differently. And sometimes that means throwing your all into different projects and areas of your life at different times. That doesn’t mean you should neglect your family and your health. Those are on this list of potential failures too. But, strive to live on your terms of work-life integration.

As author Brad Stulberg puts it in this New York Times post Maybe We All Need A Little Less Balance, it is about making conscious decisions.

Isolate Yourself

Neglecting everyone in your life to hide away and run your biz is a trigger for failure. We need support. We need community. We need those who love us. And then we need those who are mentors and those who get what we do.

Other self-employed peeps who have been where we are and higher. The ones who can encourage us and give us sound advice while also keeping us accountable. You don’t have to live in a home office bubble all by yourself. Pop the bubble! It’s not that painful I promise.

Take Your Health For Granted

Sitting all day and not getting out or changing your environment is bad for your physical health and your mental health. Being a business owner is stressful. You have many responsibilities and often feel less than qualified to manage them all.

It is extra important to take care of your body, mind, and spirit. From what you put into your body, to the actions you take, to your stress management techniques. Develop some healthy obsessions that will benefit you, your family, and your business over the long-term.

Fear Change

Sure if you have a regular 9-5 you could lose it. But, there is still a sense of more security and consistency when you are working for someone else. Managing your own business can bring a lot of uncertainty. Sometimes we fear change because we are grasping for anything that makes us feel settled.

But, we live in an ever-changing world. What worked in marketing and sharing our businesses and passions two years ago may not work the same now. We need to be able to adapt. Feeling fear is ok. Letting it stop you from growing is not.

Stop Learning

Part of adaption is to continue to learn. If we stop learning our businesses and lives grow stagnant. We don’t expand or develop new skills. This can lead to business failure but also cause depression and disappointment.

There are so many online learning platforms now. Ebooks and courses and videos. We have so much available to us. Take advantage. Learn some new skills and grow some new neurons. It’s called neurogenesis. Fascinating stuff, look it up.

Have No System

Being answerable to yourself can make the temptation to get distracted very high. Maybe you intended to write a great blog post but find yourself taking a Buzzfeed quiz or watching a funny pet video instead. (I’ve totally been guilty, shhh!)

Having systems in place to manage your business and life can cut down on wasting valuable time and feeling the regret of getting very little done. Find a project management system that works for you. Trello is my go to and it’s free. I’m obsessed with it! I think it’s a healthy obsession.

Now you know just a few of the many ways to fail and what to try instead because sometimes knowing how to fail is the secret to not failing. And if you have failed in the past, no worries. We’ve all been there. Small tweaks can completely change your results.



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