When I left corporate life I was very happy to get out of the office. The cubicled floors were depressing, each cluster the same except for the pictures the person had pinned to the pin board. I hated that when you made a phone call everyone could hear. I never made many personal phone calls but nothing is sacred in an office like that. Everyone knows everyone’s business from what you for dinner last night to how many millilitres of milk your baby drank at their 11h30 feed. It is the nature of office life and many people thrive in that environment. I did not. Working for myself in an environment that I control is where I thrive. It makes me happy, it is where I recharge and draw inspiration from.
Working from home, by myself can get lonely though. As much as I am happy to be on my own, I do miss interaction with other like-minded people. I do, now, get out of the office and force myself into situations where I have to interact. Those interactions have become important to me and vital for my business and personal growth.
How do I beat the loneliness that comes with being the only person in my business?
Coffee shops are great spaces to feel like you are a part of something without actually having to talk to anyone. Woolworths now have 2 hours free wifi and they have, according to me, the best lattes and cuppaccinos. So I head out there at least twice a week and plug in to the energy of their bustling cafes. Because I am a creature of habit, I see the other freelancers there and when we make eye contact there is an understanding there that says “Yes I am here for the same reason you are which means we don’t have to acknowledge one another.”
Networking is, despite my initial reluctance, a great way to get out of the house and get results. My weekly BNI meeting has become a big part of my work life and is adding to my client base each week. There are other, less formal, networking events, which I have written about as well.
Last week I was invited by a group of freelancers to join their office space as and when I need it. We are probably going to be working together so they are happy for me to sit in their boardroom for a few hours if and when I need it. Ask your clients if you could spend some time in their office, it is a good way to understand their business a little more and feel like you are part of a team for a bit.
Exercise! Yeah I see you all rolling your eyes and saying “when??” but it is something I have neglected and now I sit with a sore back and my body screaming for yoga. Get active! You don’t have to go to gym, you can run or walk the dog or find a private club to join. Not only is it good for your well being it is also a great way to meet new people and you never know who may have opportunities for you.
Join online groups of people in your industry. This can be a great source of support and learning. Facebook has countless groups on pretty much anything and everything you can imagine. You might need to try a few out and see which ones work best for you.