What do you first think of when you hear ‘Be Your Own Boss’?
Do you think ‘Oh, I should never be an employee’? Or ‘I should never let anyone decide something for me’? Or ‘I will never have a boss’?
Most people believe BYOB (not Bring Your Own Bottle 😜) means never working for someone else. But the truth is, in the end you’re always going to be working for someone else. Even as a freelancer, you need to be at the beck and call of your clients. Even as the CEO of a big company you need make sure the shareholders and board of directors are happy. Even as a small business owner, you want clients to pay and employees to be happy. So when are you really BYOB? Once you’re retired? Once you reach financial independence? 🤔
Truth is, I don’t believe BYOB means working independently, I believe it means taking ownership of your life. Being active, not passive. Saying ‘It’s not my priority’ instead of ‘I never have time’. Choosing how to react to something, instead of letting your emotions decide for you. It means being a boss of your own life. And you can very happily be an employee and be the boss of you own life (I think).
This won’t be a sappy self-help article, these are simply my thoughts and reflections on what being you own boss really means.
Here are 3 real ways to BYOB:
1. Never be ashamed to ask yourself ‘What do I want to do with my life?’
In the book ‘What do I want to do with my life?’ Po Bronson, the author, interviews over 100 people all over the US to tell their story of how they got to where they are now. There’s one very interesting reflection that he notices in those people: many are ashamed to even be wondering what they want to do with their life.
This is because we know that they are people starving in other parts of the world, that there are people struggling to make ends meet because of unemployment, that many would be grateful to have a job in the first place. And so we feel guilty to even be questioning such a philosophical question – maybe I should just stick to what I have and just be safe.
Well I say: NO. Yes it’s important to be grateful. But that does NOT mean you shouldn’t strive for better, for job satisfaction, for a happy life.
So based on this, sit down and ask yourself seriously ‘What do I want to do with my life?’. And let your mind go wild, be creative, go crazy. Allow yourself to think that it’s possible, that you could be a diving instructor, that you could be a professional ballet dancer, that you travel to the other side of the world.
We usually call these ‘dreams’, which makes them sound like their impossible. But they’re not dreams, they are career aspirations, possibilities, life opportunities. Allow yourself to believe that you could make it happen, and you are allowing yourself to take ownership of your life. And therefore, of truly Being Your Own Boss.
Maybe it’s not realistic. Maybe you don’t have time or money to achieve this aspiration of yours. Well then, I present you with financial independence. Maybe you can’t get it done now, but by leaving the workforce with enough money saved up in the future, you can. You’re the boss, you choose.
2. Make exploration a priority
If you struggle to answer ‘What should I do with my life?’, it’s totally normal. We’re all constantly figuring it out, and one year we may say something, and the next something else. For this reason, exploration should be a constant part of your routine. You constantly want to be involved in an activity or something that explores different ideas, different career choices.
Whether you’re working a 40 hour work week or are in your early twenties in an internship, exploration can still be part of your week. And if your immediate response is ‘I don’t have time’, read this sentence:
This is an investment (of exploration) which is justified because some things are so much more important that finding them in the first place repays the effort ten times more.
Make exploration a priority, and what it returns will likely be very much worth it. For example, if you dedicate time to attending startup events (a type of exploration) and one day you meet your business partner and go on to build a business – wasn’t that exploration worth it?
The thing is, what does exploration exactly mean? Well really, it varies from person to person. Personally, exploration for me means travelling, reading books, attending FI meetups, listening to podcasts and managing my own podcast.
For you it could be trying different hobbies, watching documentaries, working in different countries. Anything that involves learning something new and living new experiences. And I believe the best and easiest way to get started is simply by reading books. Not only is it the key to becoming more intelligent, but you get to learn in a few hours what others took an entire lifetime to learn. Really, a no brainer. 🧠
Exploring means allowing yourself to find what truly matters for you. It allows you to pick what’s important and eliminating what isn’t. Being Bossy with your own life. 💁♀️
3. Work in blocks of time + prioritise the essential
And the last strategy to BYOB is to simply be in control of your time. Here are two books that can also help you get on track (they both completely changed the way I work): Deep Work by Cal Newport and Essentialism by Greg McKeown.
These books teach you not only how to be more disciplined but how to manage your time so you don’t always feel out of it. The one key tactic is to work with time blocks. Meaning simply to have a calendar (Google Calendar is always great) and working in blocks of 1 hour (or whatever you need). Have a different calendar for the different things that are important: Work, Side Hustle, Exercise, Social, etc (you can make them overlap with GC). And in that calendar you can add ‘Exploration’.
This is what Essentialism is about – every day we run around doing the most urgent things. But in order to really go somewhere, you want the essential stuff to be a priority too. Call it self development, call it whatever what you want. Put it in your calendar and make it important. It could be a block of 1 hour reading books, a block of 2 hours learning how to play piano or simply 1 hour hanging out with friends you truly appreciate. By making ‘an investment in myself’ part of your routine, you’re showing the urgent stuff who’s the real boss. The real boss is ‘me’ – and that’s why you want this ‘me’ to be the best version of itself by doing what it truly cares about.
There you go, three real strategies to be your own boss and take ownership of your life. And you don’t have to be a CEO or manage 4 businesses to BYOB – you simply need to know what you want do through constant exploration, and then make it happen. Sounds easy right? Nope, I know it’s not. But remember that anyone can do it, and that at the beginning it simply requires practice. The good news is that you can be an employee and still be your own boss 😉.