I Was Once An Eight-to-Fiver
I spent seven years working for a school district as a teacher and another seven in city government as a crime analyst.
I’ve spent the last year and nine months working for myself as a private investigator.
My, how my world has changed!
I have always been a hard worker with my own motivations for becoming better, excelling at my job, and learning more. Especially in my last job working for a city government, I felt the pressure build up as I was being held back in my endeavors. I was running into too many brick walls with my “upper management”, budget restraints, and shortsightedness of my company.
While I was working my tail off and constantly bouncing off of the next wall placed in front of me, some of my mediocre coworkers who felt they deserved a medal just for showing up were being promoted and applauded for accomplishing the minimum in their jobs.
It was maddening. I had to get out.
I felt like so many of you are feeling today in your jobs.
The city government I worked for as a crime analyst isn’t the only “company” with problems of lack of motivation, dissatisfaction, slow work pace, wasted resources, and budget issues.
It’s a shame because I loved my job, as many of you do. The problem was not the job. The problem was the environment.
So many of our workplaces foster an environment of unhappy and bored workers who do marginal work, just barely motivated enough to accomplish the minimum goals in order to take home a paycheck. Thank goodness not all of our workplaces are this depressing, but sadly, many are.
It was daunting and a huge leap of faith, even after months of planning, to quit my job and start my own business as a private investigator. But I am so glad I did. And here’s why.
Now, I’m My Own Boss
Everything became less complicated. Everything.
It just makes sense that one person working solo completely eradicates a list of potential problems that plague workplaces with two or more employees. As a solo practitioner, I can make a decision in two seconds.
I don’t have to discuss it with my supervisor, who then takes two weeks to take it to his supervisor, who decides to schedule a meeting with his team three weeks after that, only to filter back down to me after two months of waiting that my idea has been flat out rejected or transformed so much that it is no longer my idea and has taken an unrecognizable form of its own. As many of you know, this is no exaggeration.
I don’t have to worry about how my work is affecting others because the only one it’s affecting is me. I am not making anything harder on my coworker by deciding to approach a problem in a certain manner. I do not have to worry that I am stepping on toes by taking over a project, overstepping the purview of my job description, or taking credit for someone else’s baby (even when I did 85% of the work for them).
More Work In Less Time
My time isn’t wasted on frivolous emails, unnecessary meetings, office disruptions, office politics, or ridiculous but mandatory hoops to jump through.
I am the investigator, research analyst, head of marketing, report writer, secretary, budget planner, and IT guy. Okay, so my husband is sort of the head of IT around here. But you get the picture.
I know every aspect of my business from beginning to end. I don’t have to ask permission, wait for an email response, attend another boring and frivolous meeting, or waste time on writing up proposals to my own company to “allow” me to move forward with a necessary component of my job.
I just do it.
Because my time isn’t wasted on unnecessary things, I accomplish in 20 hours what used to take me 40 hours to accomplish at the office. My distractions in my home office are few just compared to the number of people who would “drop by” my office at work to shoot the breeze for a “few minutes”. Sometimes at work, I would have to close my door and put a sign up that read “work block” just so I could get one task completed without disruption.
Because I can get more done in less time, I am prompted to work even harder and get more accomplished, so that’s what I do. Every single day. My productivity is through the roof compared to the first 14 years of my working life.
I save money with a home office and an employee pool of one. I save gas money, lunch money, and money I used to spend on professional work clothes. I don’t have to bother with making or bringing food to the next “potluck” meal at the office for a holiday or coworker’s birthday. I don’t feel obligated to buy a gift for my coworker on their birthday. No more boss’s day, secretary’s day, or freaking fill-in-the-blank day. I’m free from the obligatory fundraiser purchase from my coworker’s son selling popcorn for his baseball team.
Though I do have to actually leave my home office and seek out a girl scout every March now.
There is no dress code where I work (in the room above my kitchen). I don’t even have to wear shoes! If it’s hot outside and I’m going swimming later, I can wear my swimsuit under my t-shirt and cutoffs. No one cares.
I am still working just as hard as I would be working in my dress and heels. I’m just more comfortable now.
I don’t have to work on Christmas Eve. If my niece has a basketball game in the next town over and I need to leave by 4:30 to get there, I jump in my car and leave. When my son sleeps in until 8:30, I let him sleep. If I work late the night before and want to sleep in myself the next morning, I do. If my family wants to take off for a long weekend of camping, I work longer hours during my weekdays so I can take Friday off to eat hotdogs and smores.
When reading an awesome book that is teaching me killer marketing skills, I can curl up with a blanket on my couch and read it next to my crackling fireplace.
Because I am a solo practitioner with a home office, I am more present in my life than I have ever been.
And that’s what really matters in the end.