Introverts need to be in charge of their own schedule, environment, and energy to really show up in their strengths and shine in their work.
If you’re an introvert, you’ve probably already discovered that you work best alone. You might have always disliked working in groups and in teams. I know I have!
That’s where self-employment comes in. In many cases, I believe it’s the best career path for introverts like you and me. Here’s why.
Why Self-Employment Is Right for Many Introverts
Introverts need to be in charge of their own schedule, environment, time, and energy in order to really show up in their strengths and shine in their work. And we need plenty of quality alone time. That’s where the beauty of self-employment comes in — it allows you to be in control of your own work schedule, how much you want to work, when you want to work, and how much you want to interact with other people.
There are many options for self-employment that you can do at home, such as freelance writing or design, consulting, coaching, or providing administrative or social media services to other online businesses. And, if you’re a blogger, coach, psychologist, or other expert, you may be able to create “passive” income like a self-paced online course. This allows you to scale your business and make money doing what you love while also having lots of time to yourself. Ultimately, this can give you more energy to spend quality time with the people closest to you, like your family and kids.
Self-employment allows you to be in control of how you spend your energy. Since introverts tend to get overstimulated easily, you get to be in control of how much outside stimulation you want to engage with. No more mind-numbing meetings, interruptions from coworkers, or constant pings from Slack. Really, self-employment and introverts are a beautiful match.
It’s Better for Your Mental and Physical Health
Not having a 9-5 job, a boss, or coworkers will most likely feel freeing, energizing, and calming to you as an introvert. Working for and by yourself will give you more space to access your creativity and use your unique gifts to bring value to the world.
It’s this control of your time and space that will help you thrive in life. Plus, making money doing something you love is extremely fulfilling, especially for introverts who crave meaning in all that they do. As an introvert, you’re probably a thoughtful, conscientious person, and you have a lot to offer your clients and customers. However, being in control of your schedule and how you give your energy away is essential for you to feel your best — and produce your best work.
Many of us were told the path to happiness was to secure a good job, and indeed, you might feel enticed to work for someone else in order to receive a consistent paycheck. Of course, this works for some introverts, and there’s nothing wrong with choosing traditional employment. But for many others — me! — we need to listen to what we truly need as introverts to thrive. Until I did, I jeopardized my happiness, and often my physical health, as I felt exhausted and even physically sick after long work days with little time to myself to recharge my energy.
I get it, we’ve all been there — completely exhausted at the end of a day spent working for someone else, unable to cook a healthy meal, go to the gym, or even relax. And this stress can make us more susceptible to anything from the common cold to more serious health problems like high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and more.
Yes, being self-employed takes consistent courage, confidence, drive, and risk, but it can be totally worth it in order for you to shine as your introvert self.
Still not sure if self-employment is right for you? Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before quitting your day job to freelance.
Want some more self-employment ideas? Here are 10 self-employed career ideas for introverts, based on your Myers-Briggs personality type.
However, if you’re ready to make the leap, here are five tips to help you shine as a self-employed introvert.
5 Tips to Help Self-Employed Introverts Shine
1. Know when you work best.
Do you work best alone? Or with someone else in the room while you both are doing your own thing? Or in a public place, like a park or a coffee shop?
I’ve never heard an introvert tell me that they enjoy teamwork, but some do enjoy collaborating if it’s a good fit (sometimes you don’t know until you try it). I, personally, work best when absolutely no one else is around — in the quiet and privacy of my own home, sipping my coffee or tea.
Are you a morning person, daytime, or evening person? When do you feel the most energized, motivated, and inspired? What kinds of things help you start your day with the most energy? When do you feel the least energized?
If you need long, slow mornings to yourself to wake up and feel ready for the day, then give yourself that (yes, it’s possible when you’re self-employed!). There’s no hard and fast rule that says you need to wake up at a certain time and do certain things to start your day. You might need a lot of time in the morning to meditate, visualize, exercise, stretch, eat breakfast, and drink coffee before you start work — and that’s completely okay. Do what works for you.
Some entrepreneurs will tell you to hustle, but that may not be the “right” way for you as an introvert to approach your business. Get clear on what feels most supportive of your well-being, and use that as your foundation.
It doesn’t have to be hustle or nothing — you can still take massive action with a gentle approach.
2. Respect your own creative process.
Do you know what your creative process tends to be? When do you get your best ideas? Is it in the shower or going for a walk in nature? When do you feel most creative?
Your creative process might be very different from someone else’s. Listen to your own creativity, when and how it wants to be expressed — and give it proper time and attention.
Know when you get your best ideas and connect the most to your creativity and inner wisdom. Listen to that, and commit to it.
Do something creative or inspirational every other day, whether that’s getting out in nature, creative writing, painting, dancing, taking a bath, or letting yourself daydream. Notice how you feel engaging in your creativity.
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3. Know your limits.
Get clear on how often it would feel good to you to work, and what work supports you best.
For example, if you see clients 1:1, how many 1:1 sessions per day/week/month can you have without burning out and feeling depleted? What’s your limit? What number helps you feel well? If it’s not many, and you’ve been making your main source of income from 1:1 sessions, consider creating some kind of “passive” income for your clients and audience like an online course, program, book, or product.
Be honest with yourself. Most introverts I talk to need 2-4 hours to themselves in the morning (that’s their ideal, anyway). Sometimes, parenting or other responsibilities conflict with that, and if that’s the case, what’s one way you can give yourself a little more time in the mornings?
In other words, what works for you? What are your limits? What boundaries do you need to create for yourself and your business?
Put your limits and boundaries in place. Maybe that’s only being available to clients on certain days or blocking out certain times for self-care. Maybe it’s allowing yourself to sleep as long as your body needs or always eating protein for breakfast. Whatever your limits and boundaries are, respect them.
4. Do you.
Don’t follow the grain because it’s the grain. Don’t do something because some business expert told you that you should. Do things YOUR WAY. Go against the grain, create your own schedule, life, and business. Yes, read books, listen to podcasts, hire coaches and consultants, read blogs about business and marketing.
Learn all that you can, but always prioritize your own voice and intuition. Other people do not know you or your life better than you. You are the expert of your life.
Always take others’ advice with a grain of salt, including my own! If your intuition is telling you not to go in a certain direction, don’t do it. If your desire isn’t what the experts are pushing you to do, don’t do it. If your body is saying no to someone else’s idea, don’t use it.
What is YOUR way of doing your business that you are in love with, that feels really damn good to you?
Implement one thing in your business life that your intuition and body say HELL YES to — even if that’s not what you’re hearing from other experts. Practice listening more to yourself.
5. Listen to your intuition.
As an introvert, you are probably very intuitive, and your intuition knows best. Let it guide your life and business. It won’t always make sense to your mind, but if you’re feeling a nudge, listen to it.
Your intuition might be telling you to let go of a collaboration, go in a new direction, do something completely different than you are now, move to a different location, or surround yourself with different people. Whatever it is, you will save yourself some misery and confusion by listening to your gut early on.
Sometimes, this requires you to trust the unknown and take some big leaps without a clear path in sight. It’s okay if it’s scary, but if you know deep down in your soul and gut that this is where you need to lead, then trust it. Your intuition always wants the best for you.
As a self-employed introvert, you need to decide what is best for you and give yourself that. Do business your way, and you will be happier and shine in what you do. If you pay attention to what you need and put it into practice, then you are more likely to experience sustainable success!