I was having a conversation with a boss friend of mine recently…and I call her a boss for several reasons: she’s a female physician, triathelete (has done half ironman AND full ironman), an avid biker, photographer, cook, and traveler. Literally, she’s done it all and shows no sign of stopping. So I was talking with her, and we got onto the topic of what it means to be your own boss at life, to go after what you want, achieve goals and then keep going.
First things first, whatever it is you want for yourself, you need to:
Define What it Means for You to Be Your Own Boss
We all interpret the phrase “be your own boss” differently. For some it means having good control over your workday, making your own schedule, or making passive income, or being self employed and running your own business; for others, it may simply allude to being independent and having full authority over your free time and the ability to make decisions on your own; for still others, it may mean having the freedom to pursue interests and dreams. For some of you, it may still mean something else.
Whatever it means to you to be your own boss, the first step is to recognize and define it for yourself so that you can put it into play in your own life.
I think there are some universal practices for maintaining your boss status, which is what follows.
Keep the Goal in Mind
Once you have a goal or vision for your future, never lose sight of where you want to end up. There will be plenty of obstacles, plenty of challenges and hardships. I think the best way to keep going is to remind yourself of the end result you’re after. There’s no fixed pathway to achieve your goals. A friend may do it differently than you, but the outcome may be the same. So just remember the goal and keep going.
There are several ways to achieve this including:
- Create a vision board and look at it daily; this can be a physical board you have in your home or one you create on social media (for instance, on Pinterest) where you can continuously add new ideas to it and sources of inspiration as you find them.
- Journaling: record your progress so that you can see how far you’ve come and also keep track of what’s left to do
- Tell people you trust: they’ll serve as reminders and sources of strength if you falter or veer off course
- Make a list associated with each goal and discipline yourself to accomplish one thing each day
- Join interest groups that have similar goals that you are pursuing. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people can go a long way towards helping you keep your eye on the endgame.
On that same note, you must…
Love the Process
As I mentioned, there’s no one way to achieve your dreams. Everyone has a different path to take. It’s important to not compare your journey to others, and also to embrace whatever process you do adopt for yourself. Your process is uniquely yours; so own it and do your best to learn as much as you possibly can along the way.
In addition, there will be things you have to do that you are not good at, you will have to do what you hate and you will sometimes be frustrated to no end. When faced with these obstacles it’s easy to start doubting your journey and think about quitting or changing. However, you must love this part of the process too because it is making you a stronger person and making you a better version of you.
Be Open to New Experiences and New People
No matter how much you know, or think you know, or how comfortable you are with your social situation, stay open to meeting new people and trying new experiences. There is always more to learn, see and do. There is always someone out there who can teach you something, maybe even something about yourself that you hadn’t realized before.
Intentionally staying open will help you to continue to grow as a person and as a professional.
Another way to put it is:
Getting out of your comfort zone is the best way to grow, both personally and professionally. If you don’t challenge yourself, you’ll never know what you’re truly capable of. Some examples of how to start:
- Maybe you want to be an entrepreneur and have some great business ideas? Start a business plan. Is it a home-based business or an online business? Do your research and see what is doable.
- Or a side hustle? After working your full time job, do some research on this new venture.
- Or you don’t make much money and know that your hard work deserves a raise? Work on a spiel to go ask for one.
- Afraid of public speaking? Take classes and learn some techniques to help you through it.
- Perhaps you want to venture into real estate so you can set yourself up to generate passive income? Look into the best markets and learn what it takes to invest.
Sometimes just doing research and educating yourself on an idea can put you outside your comfort zone, because it means you are seriously considering it. You don’t need to jump at every idea going through your head, nor do you need to know exactly all the steps to take, but you should take one idea and give it a shot. Push yourself into an area that you are uncomfortable in; maybe you’ll succeed, maybe you’ll fail, but either way, you’ll learn a lot and it’ll make it easier for you to try again.
This is a tool that is underrated and underused in my opinion. Definitely, as physicians, we are never taught how to network or the importance of it. When I reached business school, however, that’s all we ever talked about it. Networking is a skill that requires attention and practice and can pay off in the biggest ways. I got my current job in southern California by simply networking.
Hand in hand with staying open to meeting new people and to new experiences, networking can show you options that may not have known were even available to you. The people you meet can open doors for you and help you achieve your goals!
Work on Yourself Daily
You are a work in progress; we all are. Aside from professional advancements, make sure to pay attention to yourself as well. Take care of you, take breaks, get sleep, learn ways to de-stress, read books that bring you joy and/or teach you something, and definitely make time to travel.
Add in anything here that I haven’t mentioned that you feel is important to you. Little increments of work every day make a huge difference over time.
Add Things to Your Life That Improve it and Delete Anything That Doesn’t Help You Advance
Whether it’s people, habits, or superfluous tasks, be intentional of how you spend your time and energy. Being busy is not the same as being productive.
Something that is more difficult to do, is letting go of people that drag you down. You may not realize it, but sometimes we are unable to move forward because we subconsciously are hanging on to people in our lives. We do this out of sentiment, fear, obligation or guilt; we know that if we were to take a step in a certain direction, we would lose those individuals from our lives. However, is that a bad thing? Is losing a friend that clearly doesn’t support you or your growth really a loss?
Anytime you focus on change or growth, you will alienate certain individuals. You have to weigh their importance in your life with how important your own progress is to you.
To be your own boss you have to take control and recognize that your life is yours, and should not be at the mercy of others.
Above All: Be Yourself
There’s only one of you; so be the best boss version of yourself you can be.
To be your own boss isn’t just about running a business, making a career change or making money. It’s about making decisions for your own life, taking charge of how you spend your time and ensuring that you continue to work and better yourself so that you can reach your full potential.
So, start today. Identify who you want to be, where you want to end up and make sure that everything you do and how you live your life is pushing you in the direction that you want to go.
Anything you’d add to this list? Share below!
(Featured and pinnable image courtesy of unsplash)
Sanjana is a physician anesthesiologist, avid traveler, and entrepreneur. She founded The Female Professional in order to give women a voice, a community, and provide resources to help them overcome hurdles and achieve success. With her experiences as a physician, as a CEO of a startup, and as a writer, she understands the struggles and frustrations that women face. She also understands what it takes to move past those things and come out on top. Through this platform, Sanjana aims to empower women to be their best, authentic, selves, achieve work/life balance, and live life to the fullest.