Once I ran into a fellow self-employed person and, as we shared the customary chitchat he said, “I’m running ragged. The guy I work for is a jerk.”
I laughed because I knew the feeling.
Lots of times people opt out of a traditional workplace to be their own boss, only to find they’re harder on themselves than any regular supervisor ever would be.
Be honest now, how quickly would you file a complaint against a manager who talked to you the way you talk to yourself?
Maybe you’d quit instead. But the problem is, there’s no transferring away from your own inner supervisor.
In fact, more of us find ourselves at the mercy of these harsh taskmasters than ever before, and not just because of the challenging economy.
It’s because the world of work has changed, and sometimes it seems we’re all changing jobs as fast as we can just to keep up.
According to the Monthly Labor Review, younger baby boomers held an average of 9.6 different jobs between the ages of 18 and 36, and something tells me they didn’t stop there. Forrester Research predicts that younger workers will hold at least 12-15 jobs and, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Gen Y workers average only 1.5 to 3 years at a job.
This data clearly substantiates the career coaches’ claim that we’re all the captains of our own ships and the course of our work lives is up to us.
It also means, to paraphrase Pogo, that we have met the Boss and he or she is us. Since we’re not likely to be at the same company or have the same manager for more than a few years, we see the person we’re really working for every time we look in the mirror.
And how should that change our attitudes towards work? It could turn us into a bunch of self-absorbed jerks, obsessed with looking out for numero uno. Why care about organizational goals or your colleagues’ welfare if you’ll be moving on in a few months?
I think that would be very shortsighted. Now, more than ever, a career is an amalgam of people, contacts and networks. It’s not wise to alienate anyone.
If anything, realizing that you’re really working for yourself should encourage a long-term perspective that helps you put challenges in context and keeps you focused on your goals.
It also means we need to start being good bosses to ourselves, since we’re pretty much stuck with each other.
by Danielle Dresden