There’s nothing more unequivocally soul crushing than hating your job. To have invested years and years of your life (and a goodly portion of investment in student loans that you may never fully pay off) on education and learning that are wasted in your drudgerous day job. To have aspired to so much, yet to end every day feeling as though you’ve accomplished so little. What would the 10 year old you say if he knew what his grown up self would be doing? Would he simply bemoan the fact that super spy, cosmic guardian and Jedi knight are still not valid career options? Or would he throw himself to the ground and weep for the cavalcade of monotony and boredom that his life would become. “Enjoy school, kid” you can see yourself saying, “Because that’s as good as it’s ever going to get!”.
It could be that you’re simply having a bad day. Everybody gets them. It could be that your career feels stuck in a rut, or that you’re going nowhere but in some cases this is just a phase that passes with time. Maybe there’s something you could to to tweak your current situation to make it far more palatable. Perhaps an open and honest conversation with your boss about how their expectations are unrealistic and how you need more support would be the best medicine. Or perhaps you’ve simply reached the end of your rope in your current career, it’s never too late to retrain. Perhaps you’d benefit more from a whole new career. After all, it’s better to be at the bottom of a ladder you want to climb than half way up one that you don’t. If, however you love what you do, but hate your job, it’s entirely possible that quitting your day job and becoming a freelancer could solve all of your career problems.
Freelancing is fraught
Although freelancers are the first to admit that the freedom, the flexibility and the lack of a boss breathing down your neck are wonderful boons, the lot of a freelancer isn’t all milk and honey. Freelancing brings its own set of problems and caveats. Your self motivation and time management skills need to be impeccable, so it’s a good idea to establish a schedule weekly template as soon as possible. As a freelancer, you’re forever walking the fine line between taking on enough work so that you can stay afloat financially (freelancers can rarely rely on a steady stream of income) and allowing yourself something resembling a work / life balance (if you burn out, the quality of your work will suffer and you’ll waste a lot of time on revisions sent by your client or you may even be kicked off the job). If you’re unsure whether you can or should turn your talents to freelancing, we’ve compared this even handed lists of reasons for and against a career in freelancing…
Freelance: You could save a lot of money
How much do you spend on fuel or public transportation for your daily commute? How often do you swing by our favorite coffee outlet for a latte on the way to work? How much do you spend at the subsidized cafeteria or the local sandwich shop? Salaried work brings with it a lot of little sundry costs which seem inconsequential but can add up to a whole lot by month end. When you freelance, however, you’ll likely spend your time working from home or hot desking. Who needs expensive overheads like office space and facilities when you can use a virtual receptionist for a minimum outlay. Your transport costs are scythed down, and you may even be able to make money by selling your car. Moreover, you’ll be able to cook your own meals from home (remember to eat: seriously, you’d be amazed how easy it is to forget when you don’t have a lunch break), and drink your own coffee saving a little every single day.
Stay where you are: Benefits
While you may be able to match or even better your day job’s salary fairly quickly as a freelancer, the lack of benefits may tip the balance in favor of staying where you are. Freelancers get no holiday pay, nor do they get sick pay or anything remotely resembling job security. Unless you’re lucky to live in a country where healthcare is free, you will likely miss out on some pretty serious benefits when you leave your salaried job.
Freelance: It brings out the best in you
In your old job you probably had more than a few extended bathroom breaks or trips to the water cooler that also included a lengthy check on your social media feeds. You probably did enough to get by but you simply weren’t properly incentivized to go above and beyond. When you’re a freelancer your reputation is intrinsically tied to your earning potential. Thus, you’re pushed every day to produce your very best work. This gives you a renewed sense of self worth and self-motivation that few salaried employees experience.
Stay where you are: Work / life balance
Of course, freelancers can reach the point where they can attain some work / life balance but it’s not easy to come by, especially when you work from home. You’ll never be able to make it all the way through a movie with your loved one if you know there’s some work that you could be doing. You’ll berate yourself for every waking moment you spend not working, whereas if you stay where you are at least you’ll be able to leave your work at home. Moreover, you’ll never be able to switch off as clients will have access to you 24/7 and if they have deadlines of their own, they’re unlikely to be all that concerned about your privacy.
Freelance: You can set your own hours
Want to sleep in on Monday morning, hit the gym, enjoy a leisurely breakfast and think about doing some work around lunch time? As a freelancer you can, so long as you’re able to hit your deadlines. If your partner works shifts as a nurse or a construction worker, you’ll be able to tailor your schedule to spend more time with them. Freelancers have the ability to set their own hours so long as they meet their own productivity targets and make deadlines.
Stay where you are: Freelancing can be lonely
You’re a gregarious person and thrive in situations where you can work in a socially charged environment. Freelancing, on the other hand, is an inherently lonely lifestyle. It may suit those who enjoy their own company, but if you’re prone to feelings of loneliness and isolation you may miss the the easy banter and fun memories with your colleagues.
Freelance: You can choose your own job title
A job title is more than just a name. Job titles matter! It’s a label you place upon yourself in the workplace. It’s a significant part of what brings value, prestige and a sense of professional pride in your job. The only thing worse than working a job you hate is working a job you hate with a demeaning and / or patronising job title. As a freelancer, however, you get to choose your own job title. It can even contain the word “ninja!”.
Stay where you are: You can compartmentalize your life more easily
There’s something to be said for keeping your personal and professional lives separate. As much as you hate your job, at least you know that you can put some distance between yourself and it at night or over the weekend. If you work from home, you’re always at work, even if you’re at home. Even if you have a strict cutoff point after which you won’t allow yourself to work (recommended), you’ll always be thinking about work.
The choice is yours, and now that you’ve considered some arguments for and against, hopefully you’ll be able to make an informed and educated choice!