Paul Millerd shares an article that identifies the roads freelancers would be advised to avoid.
Starting your own business is a secret dream of many and with the emergence of more clear paths to make money online, many knowledge workers are deciding to test the waters of self-employment and entrepreneurship. In making such a leap many people hope to increase the amount of freedom and fulfilment they have with their work. However, because of how little we think about the way we work, many find themselves caught in one of many hustle traps.
A hustle trap is something that we fall into without asking “why?” Many of the traps exist because of outdated work beliefs or behaviors we have carried forward from full-time employment. Many people only realize they have fallen into a trap when they find themselves burned out and noticing that they have created another job for themselves.
Wasn’t the point of becoming self-employed to avoid such a fate?
Let’s dive into ten of the most common traps I’ve seen in my conversations with people on the self-employment journey from around the world.
Hustle Trap (noun): A mental model built on legacy ideas of how one should work and live that leads to burnout, anxiety or the sense of being trapped. Often obvious in retrospect.
#1 The dopamine bomb of internet fame
Creating content on the web is still a relatively new thing and because of this, If you are able to consistently create content, explore topics you are genuinely interested in and develop some way to improve as you go, you will inevitably get some version of 15 minutes of fame. This could come from a famous person promoting your content, getting published in a mainstream publication, economic success or or some piece of content going semi-viral for a few days.
To the self-employed creator that dances in daily uncertainty and self-doubt, this can unleash a satisfying dopamine bomb of approval. It can be so exciting that it can reshape everything you claim to care about. This effect is so powerful that even some of the most successful media organizations have gone the way of chasing clicks rather than focusing on the content they claim to care about.
Key points include:
- The productivity trap
Read the full article, Hustle Traps: Ten Guaranteed Paths To Burnout For The Self-Employed Creator, on Think-Boundless.com.
Paul Millerd shares an evergreen post on the challenges and benefits of following a self-employed path.
Over the past two and half years I’ve been navigating unknown territory, grappling with the deep philosophical questions of how to live life and wondering how my parents’ generation, the boomers, lived life as if they had a map.
For most of my life, I pretended I had a map. It seemed that was what you were supposed to do as an adult. In job interviews I lied about my career path and intentions to stay at that company. In my grad school interview I outlined a very specific plan that also happened to align with the goals of the program. The scary things is that I had almost started to believe my map was right.
Before I left my full-time job in 2017, I had the sense that things were going to be okay. That there was a plan. That life made sense.
Self-Employment Opened My Eyes & Made Me Curious
The truth was I had no idea and it took taking the leap to self-employment to open my eyes. Here is what I wrote a year into it:
A career is an artificial path which you must always manage, have a story for and be networking so that you can take the next step. The next step being up, of course.
Being self-employed, there are no promotions or paths to judge yourself against. Other people’s confusion with this fact comes out when people invariably ask “what’s your plan?” or “how’s business doing?”
While this question has no answer, I respond with what I know to be true: “I am following my creative energy and seeing where it takes me.” This tends to drive a lot of people who are deep into career thinking a bit mad.
As I’ve spoken to hundreds of people that have been carving their own paths and researched how people navigate life and stay sane along the way, a new kind of map has emerged. Not one that gives a perfect sense of certainty or comfort, but one that helps give language to feelings that are hard to name.
Key points include:
- Taking the leap
- A map for navigating the pathless path
- Embracing a “new train of thought”
Read the full article, Life Without A Map: Navigating The Pathless Path of Self-Employment, on Boundless.com.
Paul Millerd helps make sense of things in crazy times with newsletters that deliver sage advice for the self-employed. This week, he discusses building a journey you want to be on, the traps of uncertainty, and the productivity trap.
My conception of the self-employment ‘game’ has evolved to be defined as creating a life that I want to keep living. This means that work is downstream from life decisions. Compared to how I was living until I left my job in 2017, this has been a dramatic shift and one that comes without a map.
The biggest challenge is not making money, though that is certainly hard. It is learning to be comfortable with uncertainty and knowing how to exist in a state of not knowing.
This is incredibly hard because at almost every step of the journey, there are tempting actions to take that will enable you to escape the weight of that uncertainty.
Let’s talk about six of these “traps.”
#1 The dopamine bomb of internet fame
I think it’s still early for creating on the web. If you are able to consistently create content, explore topics you are genuinely interested in and develop some way to improve as you go, you will inevitably get some version of 15 minutes of internet fame. This could come from a famous person promoting your stuff, getting published in a mainstream publication, economic success or or some piece of content going semi-viral for a few days.
To the self-employed creator that dances in daily uncertainty and self-doubt, this can unleash a satisfying dopamine bomb of approval. This can be so blinding and exciting that you might try to chase that same feeling over and over again, even if its not the work you actually want to go deeper on.
I got a dose of this when I posted a Twitter thread exploring the ‘40% of Americans can’t afford a $400 emergency bill’ myth. If you read the report and the data, you’d be doing some serious mental gymnastics to land on such a takeaway. However, I was looking at it from the perspective of a former consultant who is skeptical of how data is represented and didn’t realize I was walking into a political talking point. This exploration earned me the applause of right wing trolls and a twitter follow from Ann Coulter.
Topics of interest in this article include:
- The metrics of success
- The identity trap
- Squad culture
- Worker reclassification
Read the full article, Avoiding Hustle Traps, Squads, From Politics to Seminary & More, and access links on the Boundless website.
Mike Cox answers a question that is close to the heart of every business owner and entrepreneur who may be considering bringing new people into the business, “How much equity should I give a new hire.”
This question greys the hair of every business owner and entrepreneur. After all owners bear the burden of risk regardless of how they answer that question and the more that they choose to let go of equity, the less they feel like an owner and the more they feel like any other executive -except that they incurred a risk others didn’t.
While holding equity is fundamental to being a business owner, the distribution of equity from owners to employees is not fundamental and happens for a wide variety of reasons – some justified and others misguided. And while few employees would ever shun being given equity, their rationale for and level of interest in equity varies for many reasons.
Points covered in this article include:
- Equity distribution, the tool of last resort
- The appeal of equity to employees
- Alignment of agendas
Read the full article, Don’t Give Equity away too Freely, on the Cox Innovations website.