Be Your Own Boss

The enduring tension between work and life came to a head for me this morning when, almost literally on the verge of heading to the airport with my girlfriend for a long weekend away, I got an email that scrapped all of my plans. A colleague at Behavior had fallen ill, and I had little choice but to put away my suitcase and head into the office to cover the work that she wouldn’t be able to do under the influence of a 103 degree fever. I don’t mind shouldering the burden — this particular project is really my responsibility, and I’d be a poor manager to complain about having to do the work — but I felt miserable for bailing out of the weekend trip to see my girlfriend’s family. She ended up getting on the plane alone, and my stomach felt queasy; it was proof that when it comes down to it, work trumps everything, but is that any way to live a life? My partners and I started this business with the idea that we’d have more freedom — economically, creatively and personally. That’s not the case, at least not yet, and it’s killing me.

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6 Comments

  1. The day will come soon, when you can just take any day off from work without explaining to anyone why you’re not in the office. Hang in there!

  2. I’ve been freelance for about 18 months now, and I’m yet to go a weekend without turning on my computer. I went into it thinking it would give me more flexibility, but the reality has been that I work like a dog just to keep my head above water. I still maintain my creative freedom, but sometimes I think I’d sacrifice it all for a Saturday day with my feet up on the coffee table…

  3. Khoi – that truly sucks. I suppose the upside is that you are doing what you love to do (I hope ;)) on your own terms (more or less) for yourself.

    On the flipside, you might have had to do the same for someone you worked for, which would suck even more.

  4. Khoi, I couldn’t agree with you more. I gave up a well-salaried career in the law to battle it out as a freelance writer. And while I love working for myself and not being beholden to a boss who makes me work back, I tend to make myself work back. And, with an overseas trip planned in June, I am terrified that a “career-defining opportunity” will present itself at the very worst time. I wouldn’t trade it though. We have more of the best type of freedom: freedom of the soul (and please excuse my trite romanticism).

  5. You have my sympathies.

    For some time, I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a non-profit, but two things have held me back: as a director of an organization, you don’t have much of a life; and the prospect of endless, endless fundraising. Ugh.

  6. When I was just out of college and started working at design jobs, I noticed that everyone always worked at least ten hours a day, first, and that most everyone was in their twenties, with a handful of others in their early thirties, and almost no one of any age older than that. I think design is just a punishing business, whether or not one is one’s own boss. And if one does in fact decide to start a company, it compounds the punishment and the adverse effects on living one’s own life. It’s just amazing that we can still find so much affection for it day in and day out.