Solitude and the Self-Employed

I found an article on The Guardian called Home Alone? Dealing with the Solitude of Self-Employment.

Although I have never felt alone when working at home, I know many do.

And although I relish solitude and appreciate it more and more, I know many are yet to learn how to do that and many never choose my way. We are all so different.

But I have always been aware that working alone at home is not easy for the majority of people especially if you loved the social bit of being in a job which is why most people do it. Over and over, surveys prove that the money is the second reason why people go out to work, the strokes are the first.

I shared the article on Facebook yesterday because I knew it would resonate and already it has drawn a clutch of comments from people I know and respect – Mark, Deborah, Sarah and Dee – who talk about it being tough, about totally being able to identify with it, about shedding a little tear of loneliness at times and about getting a job because the solitude of self-employment is one of the reasons why my commenter doesn’t “push herself forward”, i.e. she needs others or accountability for that, perhaps even a boss breathing down her neck. We’ll see. It’s just a different form of torture, I suspect!

I have never been lonely, I know I am lucky beyond measure in being able to say that.

In fact, I crave solitude increasingly and I realised recently when talking to a client that the less I do to be “busy”, a drug which prevents you from noticing your state, lonely or otherwise, the better it is for both me and my clients because I am more resourced in every way. I have more time, more patience and more energy. And, I suspect, other gorgeous things too.

BUT… I have always known that this working at home thing is difficult for my clients. It is one of the reasons why I put little communities around the majority of coaching work I do. They are there for those that like and want them and need company and encouragement, and can be completely ignored by those who are more like me.

The Guardian talks about ways of alleviating the loneliness, including networking just for the coffee and the craic, not the godawful type with business men in suits with their business cards, and co-working.

I think I have various personality traits which make this easy for me but, if you are a client, you will know that just because it is easy for me doesn’t mean I don’t recognise and appreciate our differences. I was so aware of this problem that one of my first online communities I created was called Lonely Entrepreneur and if there’s a sense in which I do recognise that it can be lonely, it’s when you are at the top, when you are the boss and can’t (and shouldn’t) be talking to your staff about the problems you experience being in charge of your business, the one in which they work. That’s your job.

One way I found helpful to feel connected about a ten to fifteen years ago, when I first started my coaching business and I was growing it, was to have Skype open all the time during business hours. It meant I could ask permission to interrupt an online colleague (or they me) to ask an opinion, have a virtual coffee or just pass a little comment much as one would have done at work, a sort of water-cooler moment. Little things like that make big differences in alleviating feelings like isolation, and I know I have always been happy to be used like that too, much as many clients PM me via Facebook now.

Today I would do that in a Facebook group, and often do. I share little personal wins and excitements and what I consider to be points of interest, and clients do the same. It does keep us connected. It does gee us up to keep on keeping on, to spur us on to attack another chunk of the job at hand.

One of the things the Guardian article mentions is working in a box room. I don’t do that. I make my working space as nice and comfortable and pretty and luxurious as it needs for me to do my best work. So I want natural daylight and plenty of it and no compromises of any kind when it comes to my working environment, warm in winter, cool in summer and so on.

Today I even have a bunch of white roses on my desk, and all my creature comforts are always to hand – coffee, water, lip balm, hand cream etc. You won’t be surprised to read though that I mainly keep my spaces clear to provide me with the clarity of focus I consider to be essential.

Just because I am alone, I don’t stint of getting all my own needs met. In any sense. I value myself.

  • How do you find working at home?
  • Are you lonely?
  • What do you do to alleviate it?
  • Is it getting easier the longer you do it?
  • Have you adapted to it well and, if so, how did you do that?
  • Did you relish it from the get-go?
  • Are you an introvert or an extrovert or a mixture, and how relevant is that do you feel?

I do hope you’ll write and let me know.

Your Biz Your Way

If you have enjoyed reading my words here, you might also enjoy my book - Your Biz Your Way: Learning to Trust Yourself. Relax! You've Got This. Find out how to buy the book here Read My Book