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The 5 "Satisfaction Factors" of Self-Employment

by Amy Grossman

When making a transition from employee to self-employed, the question may arise, “Will I like working on my own?”

Drawing from the fields of positive psychology, human potential, and entrepreneurship, five factors emerge that can increase your satisfaction in self-employment. Design your work with these factors in mind.

1. Rhythm – Create a schedule that accommodates your work style and natural pace. Are you a morning person? Or do you feel more energized in the afternoon, or even the wee hours of the night?

Bernadette Martin is an American ex-patriot living in Paris. Her home-based business, Visibility Branding, works with business owners to build their brands. Bernadette has many U.S. clients, but Paris is in a time zone six hours ahead of Eastern Time in the U.S. She uses the time difference to her advantage. A confessed night owl, she talks to U.S. clients at night, when she does some of her best work, catching them during their normal 9 to 5 schedule.

2. Flexibility – Take advantage of your ability to make decisions quickly, responding to current conditions without having to navigate the politics or red tape that slows down large companies.

Diane Downey owns The Yard Fairy, a landscape design and installation company. Last year was her best year yet. But with the real estate downturn, Diane anticipated a temporary decline in demand for large installations. While she waits for the economy to improve, Diane has moved a part of her business online. As well as quickly adapting to market conditions to help her bottom line, Diane also discovered she has a natural aptitude for Internet marketing, adding another valuable skill set to her business.

3. Authenticity – Be true to yourself by setting authentic goals. Because they are satisfying to you, authentic goals are ones you can truly own. In defining success, honor your values and what you care about deeply. Ideally, get everyone on board with your business. Bo Fishback, Vice President of Entrepreneurship, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundations says, “I’m always surprised at the number of husbands who start a business and don’t tell their wives.” Be authentic by being direct about what you want, why and how it will fulfill you. When you are happy, everyone in your life will benefit.

Deb spent years in technical fields as an architect, air traffic controller, and software engineer. In college, she majored in architecture (as a concession to her parents), then worked briefly in the field after graduating. Now in her 50s, Deb has finally given herself permission to be a painter. To become proficient, she worked with a mentor. Deb is herself now a mentor to an emerging artist and her work is represented by a prestigious gallery. Deb has no regrets about leaving her software career behind. She looks forward to getting to her studio each morning. About her work as an artist, Deb says, “I love, love, love what I do.”

4. Strengths – Design your work to use your natural strengths. In his book, Authentic Happiness, Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D., a pioneer in the field of positive psychology, offers a self-assessment exercise to determine your personal strengths from a list of 24 personality traits. Or you can find the VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire online at his website, Scientific evidence proves that people who use their highest personal strengths in their work on a daily basis are measurably happier than those who do not.

5. Purpose – In creating the mission for your business, embrace a purpose greater than yourself. What positive impact can you make through your work? When I polled a group of boomer women recently about the topic that most interested them for discussion, “passion” came out on top. They expressed a strong desire to find their passion and then pursue it. In considering self-employment, take time to understand your passion and how you can tie it to a purpose. If you’re unsure of your passion, work with a coach or read The Passion Test by Atwood & Atwood. When you dedicate yourself to your true purpose, success will be a natural outcome.

Use self-employment as a way to create more than a job. Instead, create a path to greater satisfaction, fulfillment and happiness for yourself.