Today is the last day of school for my kids: “Have a nice summer. We’ve decided that today is the day you start vacation. We’ll see you back here on September 4th… the day we decided you need to be back here.”
Okay, that’s not quite the way they say it, but it’s clear who’s in charge. And then one day they’ll go to college where someone else tells them what courses they need to take. And then they’ll get jobs where someone tells them what to work on.
Again, I’m exaggerating a little bit. But not a lot. For most people — myself included for the first 40 years of my life — there are people telling you where to be and what to do all along the way. So it’s not so surprising that many first time solo professionals feel a little disoriented at the prospect of “no structure.”
I got an email from someone the other day — a guy thinking of leaving his job. He asked if he needed a business plan to get started. I said, “Only if you want one.” If it made him feel comfortable and more secure, be my guest. But if you’d rather just wing it, that’s fine too.
Here’s the point: There are no rules out here. The key is to figure out what works for you and to follow that. And the sooner you see that as a feature, rather than a problem, the more you’ll enjoy the process. And, I believe, the more successful you’ll be.
Your comment “there are no rules out there” echoed a theme in your recent “Escape 9 to 5” interview, which I found very useful (http://www.escape-9to5.com/penguinlisten/).
Thanks for making that point. I found it liberating to re-discover it.
Thanks Tom! I know what you mean — it’s easy to overlook how much freedom there is on “the outside.”