When I was employed as an auto worker in the late seventies and eighties,
it seemed like I was laid off more than I actually worked. I had set some goals for myself and had planned to work in the factory for five years, while I finished my education. My five year plan took ten years, but after a successful career transition from spotwelder to spokesmodel, I went on to work as a Hollywood stylist, freelance writer and fashion editor, subsequently accepting an offer for a high-profile, full time position from a magazine. That job lasted four years, and I was lucky enough to be hired right away by one of the magazine's advertisers. One year later, my position was eliminated due to the downward spiral of retail apparel sales. So after losing two high-paying executive positions back to back in 1994 and 1995, and a year of serious job hunting, I never went back to work, at least to a "real job," and I've worked for myself out of a home office ever since.
This decade is flanked by recessions. At the beginning of the 2000's, we had the dot com bust. Now, as we end the first decade of the 21st Century, we find ourselves in another recession, this time caused partly by out of control spending habits, greedy Wall Street types and a real estate bubble.
Whatever the reason you are out of work, the truth is the longer you remain unemployed, the harder it is to find a job, no matter what your efforts.
In an article titled, "Older Unemployed Struggle to Rejoin the Work Force," The New York Times confirms this to be true, and states that there are fewer new jobs being created, affecting younger workers as well.
The English language is evolving to help us to realize the swift changes we're experiencing as a society. Brick and Mortar, Long Tail, facebook and Twitter didn't exist a few years ago. The term Google, while the name of a search engine, has become a verb, "I Googled him." Just 21 months after YouTube dot com launched in 2005, Google purchased the video sharing website for $1.65 Billion. These are just a few examples of how fast our society has changed in only five years.
But these very advances can be used to your advantage when it comes to finding ways to earn money. It is now possible to actually telecommute, or create an enterprise of your very own with little overhead.
You know you've often wondered what it would be like to do something else for a living. Well the time is now to go after it or make it happen. Here are a few tips to help you learn how to be successful at being self employed.
1. Create a workspace in your home. Convert a closet, a corner, a spare room, the attic or the basement. The only criteria is to have a high speed internet connection and access to a phone. If you cut the cord from a land line, ensure you can get a signal on your cell phone or try a digital phone service.
2. Those who embrace this brave, new world of technology will always be able to generate income. Force yourself to become more internet and computer savvy. Teach yourself how to use the recording softwear that came with your computer. Explore the possibilities of using Skype, a free software application that lets you make calls over the internet with your computer or smart phone. Constant Contact is a fairly low cost program that lets you send mass email newsletters, announcements and other information to family, friends, fans and colleagues. Check out some of the free conference call dot coms like free conference dot com or go to meeting dot com. These tools can help you reach out to potential collaborators, partners, clients and employers.
4. Become an expert. Everybody can become an expert on something. I just discovered there is a huge market out there for Crested Geckos, as an off the wall example, and most of the business is conducted online. You don't have to own a pet store to set up shop, and you won't get in trouble with all your friends who rescue animals.
5. Keep regular hours, what ever that might mean for you and your family. I start work at about the same time every morning. I always take a lunch. Sometimes I take a nap, swim or run errands on my lunch hour, which is very freeing. I try not to take or make personal calls when I'm working. And this goes for those of you who are still looking for work even though you may have come to the conclusion you are on your way to becoming self employed.
6. Write down your list of things to do every day and update it as you cross things off. This includes your personal errands as well your efforts at seeking work, and actually doing the work you've secured. Use a calendar to help you set goals and deadlines. Making and working with lists will help you stay focused on your goals and give you a sense of accomplishment. Whether we like it or not, being unemployed can mean the ironic gift of time. Use it to finally finish that project you've been tinkering with forever.
This list should include your housework too. Many people tell me they are so distracted by the need to clean, cook, do the dishes or laundry that they can't concentrate. So schedule that in and put it on your list. Since it's not good to sit for long periods of time, I get up every 20 minutes or so to stretch, get a drink, start a load of laundry, or make my bed. By the end of the work day, I've picked up the house and kept the kitchen in working order. So in reality, I've got two jobs, housekeeper and consultant!
7. When you're done, you're done. Let's face it, especially in the beginning, there might not be a full day of effort to account for. Accept it. If you want to watch a movie, take off on your bike, read for pleasure...go ahead. Productivity isn't calculated on the hours you put in at your new work station, it's the results. Often workaholics are really people who don't manage their time well, so they have to work around the clock. There are exceptions, of course, but remaining flexible to the work flow is what is important, so don't punish yourself by trying to fill up the hours.
8. Take a few minutes out of each day to find something positive to think about, remind yourself how bad it could really be, like living in Darfur or Afghanistan, where freedom and safety are things that don't exist. And give yourself a pat on the back for having the courage to giving it one more try, one day at a time.