Make yourself at home

If you’re in business for yourself, or otherwise have a high degree of autonomy in your work–then in theory you’re free to work how you want, when you want, and you’re the one who calls the shots about the big picture goals, too.

In practice, it often doesn’t work out that way. Invisible forces box you in.

You take on too many commitments and then become too busy to think about your long term goals, and too exhausted to untangle yourself from your short-term burdens.

You overestimate your skills, allowing things that seemed straightforward when you committed to them to turn into giant bugbears of uncertainty.

You expect your partnerships to be infinitely durable and productive. Sometimes they are. But sometimes they aren’t, and they end up causing more harm than good. Or the benefits always seems to be just beyond the horizon while the costs are paid every day.

Your tools, which were once well sharpened and expertly wielded, start to become dull… or they’re left unused for a while and collect dust, or they’re made obsolete by newer and better tools that you haven’t had the time to learn yet.

Your network of human connections, once a vibrant source of new ideas and opportunities, either atrophies from neglect… or feels like a distraction because its center of gravity has shifted. You can’t quite work out if it’s you that changed, or if it’s the people around you.

I could write ten thousand lines with ten thousand examples, but they’d all share a common theme: The force of inertia is the one true boss of independent workers.

If you don’t continuously rebuild and refine the pathways that lead to where you want to go, you end up stuck in a rut, or you end up lost. That’s the worst feeling. It’s the feeling of being a stranger in your own home.

But when you remember that this thing of yours is in fact your home, everything changes. Instead of complaining about the tall grass, you mow it. Instead of looking at chipped and dirty walls and wishing they didn’t look so drab, you lay down a fresh coat of paint. If the bed is uncomfortable and lumpy, you buy a better one. If the porridge is cold, you heat that shit back up, and so on… and so on.

Whether you run your own business, or you’re simply trying to navigate your way through a meaningful career: Never underestimate the benefits of making yourself at home in your day-to-day work–or the costs of failing to do so.

It’s your house. You’ve built it. Now remember to take care of it.

If you have questions or thoughts to share, open an issue in my “Ask Me Anything” repository on Github, or email gregory@practicingdeveloper.com.