While everyone may suggest that day jobs are the answer, they are not for everyone. Many of us were raised to think there’s no other way. That couldn’t be further from the truth. There are many legal and non-humiliating ways to make an income. You can consult, provide a service or build an empire of your own. Specialize, mix it up, split your time however you want. There are no rules (except perhaps the law).
If you find yourself in a day job, be careful not to get too consumed by it. When all you see everyday is your desk, it’s difficult to believe that there are other options out there. It’s difficult to remember that you made this choice and could have made others. It’s up to you to decide if a job is the right lifestyle choice for you. If you decide that it is, embrace the choice with confidence and be at peace.
Justin Hamilton alerted me to this figure of speech over dinner last night. The ordeal with general education, I think. One can learn a little bit of everything or learn one thing really well. Which direction should you choose?
In the business world, niche is king. It is much smoother to specialize, carve your name, and turn a profit. Expert a trade skill and you will never have a problem finding a job in your field again. A specialist is far more straightforward than a generalist – more simple to rationalize and far easier to market.
The risk? You can get boxed in, branded, stuck. Known as a great musician, it will be difficult making your name in other art. Known as a great assistant, you will have trouble being seen as anything but a great assistant. Known as a talented comedy writer, you will never be taken seriously. The list goes on. Think you might want to change gears later in life? Be weary of specializing. Mastering a skill is great for those who prefer simple lives, terrible for others who live to explore.
Being a “jack of all trades” heightens your exposure to a wider variety of crafts, trades, fields and skill-sets. You have more options and therefore a broader opportunity to discover your true passion and talent. You may never be the best at anything specific, but you know a lot about the world and can be a broad resource. You can be the center of it all, a leader. Great leaders can speak the language of their collaborators and must understand the all of the trades involved. I would argue “jack of all trades” status is a prerequisite to leading strong teams.
Master of none? How about mastering the jack of all?
The gamble of finding day-to-day employment or the gamble of being trapped in the cycle of a 40-hour workweek? Too much free time or no free time at all? Steady paycheck or unsteady paycheck?
What are you now? Freelance or full-time? Which would you prefer?
If you prefer the opposite of what you are doing now, welcome to a very crowded club. The grass is always greener on the other side. Full-timers want more time to do what they want. Freelancers want steady work and more security. Both lifestyles suck and rule for different reasons.
It boils down to personal aptitude. Some lack the agency to survive freelancing on their own. And some cannot sit still in one job to save their lives. You have to try both to appreciate both. Only then can liberate yourself from the cons of both.
Freelance or full-time? It’s a trick question for me. I want to find balance between the two. The grass may be greener on the other side, but I prefer the high ground – atop the hill separating both sides. Better tactical advantage.