entrepreneurship, work-life balance

F* the Entrepreneurship Craze. F* FONLU!- There are Infinite Ways to Obtain a Lifestyle of Freedom. Your Job Can Be One Of Them

In the last five years, there has been a push for millennials to turn to entrepreneurship or solopreneurship.  The rational for entrepreneurship is sound and easy to gravitate to:

  1. Have something to call your own,
  2. Resist “The Man”,
  3. Obtain Financial Freedom.

Less positive reasons millennials are seeking out entrepreneurship is to avoid FONLU, aka.

Fear of Not Living Up
ski-schoolto their peers or to the media’s contrived image of what a successful lifestyle looks like.  Social media platforms like Snapchat and instagram contribute to FONLU by instigating the Keeping up with the Robinson’s syndrome. Who doesn’t want to leave in the middle of the week for a ski trip to Aspen with their friends? I would, if I didn’t hate snow and cold so much.
I’ve had friends, clients and students express that if they haven’t launched a startup or a successful business before age thirty,  when compared to their peers, they will be considered “average” by the world and the media. Without their own business, they will never be “successful” enough to be featured on the coveted “30 under 30 stories”. RUBBISH ! So… not only are millennials pressured to pay exuberant amounts of money for letters behind their name, just to get a job; once that milestone is hit they must then also have successful business owner as one of their Medium tags. Both endeavors, likely to put millennials into even more debt than they already hold.

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FONLU pressure stems from the media, our own lifestyle desires and fears about not living up to our dreams. A small component of FONLU may also stem  from the 110 “specialized” life coaches that young people are inundated with on their social media platforms that ” have it all together”. These life coaches prey on young people, people of color and folk from lower socio-economic families, glamorizing entrepreneurship with the following catchy buzzwords: FREEDOM LIFESTYLE, LIFESTYLE TRANSFORMATION, FINANCIAL FREEDOM, IDEAL LIFESTYLE , LEAVE BEHIND YOUR 9-5, ETC. promising lives of travel, money, and complete control over their time. I’ve encountered life coaches that use shaming as their main marketing platforms. They prey on the client’s desire for success and make them feel bad about questioning the value of their service by saying things like “It’s your choice to invest in yourself” while in the same breath charging 5k for two, one hour long sessions. I call bullshit. Don’t get it twisted- I’m a total believer in taking risk and investing in yourself at all cost; but it should be on your terms, not someone else’s.

I’m not saying that the lifestyle that life coaches and the media portray is false; or that if you desire to own your own business that you shouldn’t. I’m saying, that typically the media, or the life coach is not trying to show you the process but instead puts the end result of years of hard work and money spent on display. Entre/solopreneurship  is not always glamorous and not everyone is successful at it. Taking on a solo venture can be a huge expense of resources, and time. Slogans like “leave your 9-5 for a more free lifestyle” wrongfully portrays entrepreneurship as less time consuming than a normal career. Especially in the early stages of entrepreneurship, you are working more than the typical 9-5 day because you are the work. The work is always with you.

A UK study (2013) revealed that entrepreneurs worked about 52 hours a week on average, or 63 percent longer than other workers, Real Business reported.

For many entrepreneurs, their “brand” or their company engulfs their entire life, and can tie their personal and professional time to social media, significantly reducing work-life balance and privacy; the opposite of what they advertise.

So, what’s my point? I’m not here to shit on entrepreneurs. I’m here to say there is power in having a career.

Your job does not have to be a burden or an anchor tying you down to mediocrity, it can be the perfect avenue to obtaining the luxurious life that you desire!

Entrepreneurship is not the only way to live a free lifestyle. You can have a salaried job, with a guaranteed monthly income, while leveraging the benefits of your job in order to live your desired lifestyle at little or no cost to you.

I have a few non-sexy but realistic tips about living the lifestyle that you desire and making your job work for you.

  1. Mentor-ship:
    • One of my mentors, who happens to be a successful entrepreneur Dr. Greene, once told me that good mentor-ship speeds up your career by 20 years. She was specifically referring to how an individual can traverse their career more rapidly with the advise from a mentor but I utilize my mentors more holistically, for all aspects of my life. Once you’ve secured a trust-worthy, supportive mentor, talk to them about the kind of lifestyle that you want to live and how you can live it now. On my journey upwards, I’ve explained to every boss exactly how I envision my life. I expressed the importance of control over my time, travel, and wearing comfortable clothing to work. I sought their advice about organizations that would allow me to live that lifestyle or programs that I could join that would make my lifestyle desires accessible to me. I am proud to say that like an entrepreneur but slightly better, I have complete control over my time, I work three days a week- ten months out of the year, allowing me to travel and to live life to the fullest all summer and during the year if desired. Many of you might say, that’s impossible or that I lucked out. But no, I honestly stated my intentions and desires from day one, I worked hard and made myself invaluable to my organization. Then I negotiated my ass off for the lifestyle I wanted. I never settled and I never let no or the fear of losing my job keep me from asking for what I wanted (tactfully of course).
  2. Diversify your Income and become Thrifty with Your Money
    • Another mentor of mine, told me that your salaried job should only be one of your main income sources, but it does not even have to be your main one.  Always have multiple streams of income even if that means just signing up for freelancer.com on the weekends or some afternoons to flex your skills. Think of the things that you do for fun anyway and utilize them to make money. Do you like taking photographs? Sell some stock photos. Do you journal on the side, try writing a short e-book and selling it. Find ways to make money that are low energy but will pad your pocket. There is nothing better than hearing a Ding! from Paypall saying that someone bought that random t-shirt you designed two years ago. Of course, traditional investing is always a good option. Investing can be daunting but there are books out there that helped me like “Let me Teach you to be Rich”- Remit Sethi.
    • Make your savings automatic. I have several accounts that I never see until I’m ready to use them. The money is taken right out of my salary or the alternative income source pot and is directed into specific accounts for traveling, dining, clothes, random fun experiences, etc.
  3. Utilize the Benefits at Your Job:  
    • Does your job travel to other cities or countries for work? Find a way to get on those projects. (Good time to check in with that mentor we were talking about.) Do you have a conference or professional development budget? Make sure that you find out and use it! There is nothing better than traveling on the company dime. Let me tell you.
  4. Be Travel Savvy: 
    • So earlier we talked about directing your funds to specific accounts. I  subscribe to people/organizations that are already doing the work to find discounts for travel and clothes, etc. I am a premium member on Scotts Cheap Flights.  Scott sends me cheap flights, every day and I use my travel savings account to hop on deals I like when they appear.  I also do my research about the places in the world where I can go and live like a queen without emptying my pockets.

Tribe, Your life is as glamorous as you make it. Your job does not have to be a burden, it can be the avenue to living the luxurious life that you want but you have to Be proactive… Plan for the lifestyle that you want to live and then live it.

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