Why it is difficult to mind my own business

Focus

‘Mind your own business’ is a familiar admonition to busybodies who find excitement prying into other people’s concerns and manage to make those concerns their own. But if you have something that keeps you busy, in a positive way, that is what you should mind; right?

It’s been a while since I resolved to write full-time. You probably think of writing as another way of saying unemployment. And that is fine if unemployment means not being employed by another person or entity. I have heard of, and seen the misery many people experience when it is time to go to work. I still remember the words of the preacher who, one Sunday morning, after a sermon about the Hebrews’ bondage in Egypt, closed the service with words of consolation for “those who have to go to Egypt tomorrow morning” .

Experts (psychologists, entrepreneurs) and gurus of different stripes urge us, with all the conviction they can muster, to find that occupation that gives us satisfaction. They reassure us that until that happens, until we incorporate that satisfying quest in life, we will perpetually be in the grip of the Egyptian bondage.

Going to Egypt on Monday morning, and every day until Friday (and for some on Saturdays and Sundays) is also having contacts with a boss and managers. One volunteer manager I worked with a few years ago, did not like the title of volunteer manager. Now, that was at a non-profit spiritual organization. In a regular place of employment, there will be managers, may be two or three or more, managing you. For some in the workplace, right there, is the source of pain. It would be for me too. I wouldn’t enjoy managing others and I don’t like being managed.

That too was reason enough for me to opt out. The motivating factor was the desire to do what is fulfilling then not having a boss and a manager was an added incentive.
So, I made the declaration, first to myself, then to friends. I took steps too, in the right direction, From now on, my priority was going to be writing my blog and completing a book (a spiritual guide to Paul’s epistle to the Romans) that I started writing a few years ago. In the meantime, I published, on Amazon.com, a brief account of my spiritual journey during the past couple of years. Then the impostor phenomenon set in and I embarked on a revised edition which I am still working on.

Jason Hewett wrote the following in Freedom With Writing: “I was 25 years old working full-time and very dissatisfied with an entry level marketing job in New York”. It is obvious that what follows is his path to fulfillment. If you count you’ll most likely read similar statements four or five times a day.

I’m not 25 years old. That was a long time back. But the feeling is the same regardless of age. So is the second sentiment, which brings to mind Rolling Stones’ (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. I decided to take an inventory of myself, as they say in Step Four of AA (Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves). I want freedom, no bosses, no managers breathing down my neck. I also want my occupation to be my passion, similar to a vocation.

In a HuffPost blog 5 Reasons to Become Unemployable Sonia Thompson lists factors like politics, not fit for the “in group” and goes on to advocate ‘become unemployable’ and ‘become an entrepreneur’. In most cases all that is needed is what you already have, and the desire to learn and improve on it.

My passion is writing. From very early on, I have been fascinated by the written word. Don’t ask me why. My guess is I am of the right brain dominance, slightly more than left brain. In secondary school I delighted in reading Charles Dickens and even memorized many portions of his novels. I still remember Miss Havisham and Pip and Joe Gargery. I studied English literature and History in exchange for Physics and Chemistry. Over the years, no matter what occupation I was in, writing deep rooted in my soul. Don’t forget that I am introvertive too, like many writers.

A couple of years ago I resolved that to be my path forward. Like every beginner I created a blog. Then I wrote for various online publications. I still write blogs as well as post content to a couple of digital publications. I wanted to stay focused on that path.
But, as with all charted pathways, distractions lie ahead. Something promising utility of some kind always crops up somewhere along the journey. Most of the distractions are quite enticing too.

My most recent lure came from far away in the UK. I still have a resume on Indeed.com. One day I got an email about a remote writing gig with a fast-paced tight schedule and, after some analysis, sounded like tightly structured. No creativity, it looked like. And the managers are all over, locally and in corporate offices in the UK. A recruiter came upon my resume and the tango began.

There was a financial incentive too promising to be ignored. For a freelancer who may, from time to time, face real fear of starvation, a promise of a generous pay can be alluring. I forgot about bossy managers and tight schedules. What about the rigidity in the execution of tasks? As a matter of fact, that was the term they used: a well-executed summary.

It took ten days of back and forth exchanges of emails and documents, online conferences and interviews in between. Gradually I realized I was drifting away from my goals. Don’t get me wrong. Everything was about writing. But all writing is not the same.

As if waking up from a nightmare, I embarked on a task to distinguish between what is important and what is urgent and from which we get four perspectives.

Important and Urgent                                                        Important but not Urgent
(Manage: Short-term Crises and Problems)                   (Focus: Long-term Strategic Goals)

Urgent but not Important                                                   Not Important and not Urgent
(Avoid: Distractions and Interruptions)                          (Limit: Time-wasting Activities)

I relegated the UK business to the bottom two. I need to focus on the important even though financial considerations may be urgent. And if I can stay focused, I will be managing my own business.

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