Do you work for yourself? The answer, and the question, may be more complicated than you think. Consider the office temp who works for 36 weeks a year and spends the remaining time travelling in India. She is much more in the driving seat of her working life than many of the self-employed, who find it difficult to turn down work or take holidays for fear of losing customers or income.
Or what about the person who deliberately chooses part-time work so he has more time to pursue his own private passions or family? Neither of these people is self-employed. Yet in a real sense both are working for themselves. They have achieved a greater degree of autonomy and control of their working lives than many who enter self-employment. Because our language lacks a word for this kind of worker, we need to invent one: me-lancers.
Avoiding the six deadly myths of me-lancing:
Myth one. Working for yourself means being self-employed: We think about working for yourself as being a question of who pays your wages. But this is a very narrow conception. A person can have self-employed status and yet, because they are contracted by just one or two key businesses, be as much at the beck and call of others as the employed.
Myth two. A good work-life balance means less work: Work-life balance is not just about limiting time spent working: itâ€™s about spending time doing what you want to do. If your work is also your hobby, you can work long hours and still have a better work-life balance than someone working less.
Myth three. You lose income and status working for yourself.
Myth four. If what I really want to do doesnâ€™t pay, I canâ€™t work for myself: This is not true because there are options other than quitting your current job and doing what you really want. Myth five. You need to give up your job to work for yourself: Not necessarily.
Myth six. Working for yourself is socially isolating: Working everyday from home is potentially isolating, but some people are employed to do this. For the me-lancer, having the kind of work that suits your needs for social interaction is part of what it means to be working for yourself. For those who hate office politics, success as a me-lancer means escaping that environment; while the person who finds themselves stuck unhappily at home has not truly found a way of working for themselves.