Not to rub this in anyone’s face, but I’m really starting to come to the realization that regular jobs leave a lot to be desired. For the first time in my life I have a job where I don’t travel when I don’t want to, I don’t commute unless I choose to, and I don’t set my alarm unless I feel like it. I can fearlessly tell my boss (me) he’s being an idiot, and with only one person to deal with (me), the corporate politics are kept to a minimum. I work every day, but when someone needs to pick up a child at school who has decided to shove corn up her nose, I can shut it down and race to the rescue (true story).
Throughout my career, I’ve been laid off, walked out, severed, retitled, reassigned, and restructured, but in this new job I feel pretty safe. You might argue that is because it would be hard for me to replace me without tipping myself off and thus leading me to jump angrily to a competitor, or you could point out that it’s because I’m sleeping with my boss (also me). Either way, I know I’m my best employee, and my co-workers (myself and I) love working with me and think I’m hilarious. Conversely, I’m harsher with my own performance reviews than any boss I’ve ever had, and I can’t fool myself into thinking I’m sick so I can go ski.
Sure, there is a downside. Regular jobs come with little perks like free coffee, Hawaiian shirt day, desktop computer support and a salary. To be more clear, unless you think you can live indefinitely off of hay and ice water, I would recommend you think twice about becoming a writer. But then again, hay and ice water are both low carb and keep you very regular, so even that has a silver lining.
The biggest benefit in having a flexible schedule, though, is in the ability to enjoy life. When I had a real job and my kids were slow to finish dinner, I found myself getting frustrated that my return to email was being delayed. I was there but not present. Now, I can take that extra time to make sure everyone knows what happens when they “pull my finger”. When some personal emergency does come up, like a sick child or a broken water heater, my wife and I no longer have to play a rousing game of “Who’s Day Looks Less Painful to Cancel”. Instead of neurotically checking my phone for some work-related fire drill, I neurotically check my phone to see if anyone else has been fired for inadvertently insulting fans of Jeremy Lin. I still set deadlines, and when I fall behind, I work late into the night or early morning just like I always have. But I forego the night of sleep because I want to, not because I have to. Even vacations are more relaxing; I never have to work, although I still do, and I don’t have a mountain of email waiting for me when I return.
In short, I’m having a blast. But this isn’t for everyone. If you need structure or Hawaiian shirt day, look elsewhere. But if you have a passion you need to pursue, an absurdly supportive spouse and an accommodating financial situation, I’d recommend giving this a shot for a while. You’ll be surprised at what you find.