I work from about 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day, and only do client work Monday through Thursday. I spend Friday putting up blog posts and writing code for personal projects.

Sometimes the weather calls and I spend Friday afternoon on a mountain, or at the beach, or riding my bicycle.

I can live a life like that because I run my own business. I get to make the rules for my work.

While running your own business does provide some freedom and flexibility, running your own business won’t make you happy.

Marriage changes you?????

There are lots of people out there who figure when they get married they’ll be complete. They create an image in their mind of a magical wedding day, with birds chirping merrily, and forest animals helping them get dressed. It’s as if true love suddenly makes them a hero to someone and gives their life value and meaning.

That’s a fairy tale. If you’re not happy with your life before you get married, you won’t be happy after.

If you’re not comfortable in your own skin before you get married, you won’t magically become comfortable in your own skin after saying “I do”.

Oh sure, getting married may enrich your life if you’re already happy. But it also may only mask problems for a while (maybe even decades). At some point you’ll have to deal with your problems again. Only this time you’ll have another person along for the train wreck.

When I was getting my counseling degree and studying about counseling married people we often talked about how you needed to be the person you wanted to be before you got married. Or at least comfortable that you were on that right path first. Marriage, while a positive thing, does add a lot of extra considerations into the mix.

There are months/years where it feels way harder to stay in that relationship than it does to get out.

But a business….

Running a business is much like maintaining a marriage. You need to be comfortable with who you are before you go into business. You need to like your life (or at least be happy with it and know you’re moving forward to where you want to be).

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The act of launching a business — even with the freedom and flexibility — won’t suddenly make you happy. You won’t find birds chirping merrily outside your office window, leading you through a dance in the park on your lunch break.

You won’t suddenly become some knight in shining armour, ready to vanquish all your clients’ troubles.

You’re going to be the same person you are today, only with a bunch of extra responsibilities. No longer can you just design or code, but you’ll need to learn project management, marketing, bookkeeping and sales.

You are likely to have less time to do that one thing you really love (code/design/write) since you’ll be spending much of your time figuring out how to get more work doing what you love.

Don’t think of running a business as a magic happy switch you get to throw. If you’re not happy now, launching a business will only mask the symptoms for a while and you’ll have to deal with the fallout later.

photo credit: via cc

4 responses to “Running a business won’t suddenly make you happy”

  1. Tracy Avatar

    True. So, so true. Wherever you go, whatever you do… there you are. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Dipak C. Gajjar Avatar

    Well said Curtis!

    Running a business is much like maintaining a marriage, which changes our level of responsibility, the way we make decisions and list of our priorities.

  3. John Locke Avatar

    This is something Amy and I talk about often: how people have to whole within themselves before they can be whole in a relationship. This applies to people who seek personal completeness by finding a mate, or the perfect jb, or a house, or a family.

    When people check all the boxes on The List, and they still feel incomplete, this is the symptom of Emptiness staring back at them.

    Though some folks find their self-esteem with maturity, some folks never find it at ever, and continue on their path, not knowing why they do certain things.

    Acceptance begins with self-acceptance, and it has a profound impact on all our relationships: family, work, or otherwise.

    1. Curtis McHale Avatar
      Curtis McHale

      Often this self-acceptance is hard though so we avoid it.