More Ideas About Work That Can't be Taken for Granted


A while ago I wrote about four ideas about work that are usually taken for granted. As an indie worker, you have the opportunity to ask questions about generally accepted knowledge and to figure out whether it truly applies to you. In this follow up article I'd like to share three more ideas that can help you improve your work.

You can't choose your colleagues

Traditionally, you don't have much of a choice as to who your colleagues are. Luckily, if you're an indie worker you aren't doing much that is traditional. While it is definitely an awesome opportunity to decide who you want to associate with when it comes to work, it can also be tough because by default you probably don't have any colleagues at all. Without concerted effort you can spend your days working in complete isolation.

I've utilized a couple of different strategies to deliberately connect with top-notch people. A couple of my favorites include creating or joining a mastermind group, using Twitter and other social media mindfully, and joining a coworking space. There are undoubtedly countless other things you can do. The common denominator is that you must be deliberate about seeking these people out as they are not simply provided for you.

Career advancement simply requires time

In the past, getting promoted meant putting in enough time and showing enough loyalty to your organization. Obviously, as an indie worker this isn't even an option. You can keep doing the same thing year after year as an indie worker and you won't grow at all. You'll keep getting the same kind of projects, the same kinds of clients, and the same rates. While I'm not a proponent of growing your organization just for the hell of it or in making ever-increasing rates your ultimate goal, I am a proponent of continuing to craft our careers in ways that keep challenging us. Advancing "up the ladder" as an indie worker means having more control over the clients you work with, the type of work you take on, and the freedom to make decisions that use criteria other than money.

The only way you get to do that, though, is by deliberately working to develop yourself. That can take a myriad of different forms but there is certainly not a lack of resources on the internet and elsewhere that can help you move in that direction. Whether it's working with a coach, developing your skills using Lynda, en*theos, iTunes U, or other services like that, or even just setting aside an hour or two every week to practice a skill that will help you do better work in the future -- you have plenty of options. The key point, however, is that nobody else is going to be looking out for you to make sure you're gaining the skills and abilities you need to keep moving forward. It's completely up to you.

The only relevant outcome is money

This is my personal pet peeve. In lots of the organizational research I look at, particularly entrepreneurship research, some of the most common outcomes that scientists look at have to do with economic indicators like income, growth, profit, etc. In many cases they conflate these outcomes with something like "satisfaction." Work can be so much more than an opportunity to make some money. I will never downplay how important it is for us to make a living from the work we do whether as an employee or as an indie worker. Making enough money to support ourselves and our families is vital. However, let's not lose sight of the other outcomes that are equally worth considering. Ideas like job satisfaction, life satisfaction, work-life balance, meaning, passion, and engagement are all worth our attention just as much, if not more, than money.


Over the course of these two articles I've shared six ideas that I think are often taken for granted by most people:

  1. The five day work week
  2. The office
  3. Productivity as best measured by time
  4. Distractions are inevitable
  5. Not being able to choose your colleagues
  6. Career advancement simply requires time
  7. The only relevant outcome is money

As indie workers, we have the awesome opportunity to question accepted logic and figure out for ourselves the best way to conduct our professional lives. What other ideas have you questioned in the way you conduct your life and work? Leave your ideas in the comments below or write your own article and send me the link -- I'd love to see it.

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Photo by FLEE