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How To Be Your Own Boss… At Work

Written by: Ben Hanson
Published on: Nov 29, 2017

Boss mug picture


If you’ve ever had a nine-to-five job, there’s a good chance you’ve drifted into the daydream of turning in your two-week notice, telling your boss where he can stick it, and walking out the door into pure, unadulterated freedom. Then you snap back into reality where you have bills to pay and a family to support and silently beg for forgiveness from any higher being who may have dropped in on your daydreaming.

Few of us are in a position to quit our jobs, but there are other ways of capturing the essence of that dream. After all, what we really wantis nothing more than a sense of freedom. Workers crave the feeling of being in control of their work, and studies prove that employees who do, in fact, enjoy a high level of ownership over their work outperform others who are forced to sit in cubes and strictly follow orders.

In other words, it’s a win-win scenario when employees feel like they are their own boss… that they are in control of their destiny. Unfortunately, not every employer offers this luxury, nor does every job. If you want independence, but aren’t ready to quit your job and venture out on your own, here are some tips on where to look to find that perfect fit.

Search for Telecommute Jobs

This may seem obvious, but you know what they say about common sense (it’s actually not that common). When you’re browsing through job sites like JobsHQIndeed, or even LinkedIn, search for your next career using search terms like telecommuteremote, and work from home. You might be surprised at how many companies are open to allowing employees to work outside the office in 2016.

The benefits to the company are many. First and foremost, it expands their search area far beyond the typical 50-mile radius most HR departments still rely on. Second, it reduces overhead. The fewer employees you have on location, the less office space, the fewer desks, the fewer supplies, etc., you need. If you find a job you know you could do well without having to be in the office everyday, submit your application and discuss potential flexibility during the job interview should you get called in.

Pick a New Career

This option isn’t for everyone. However, for the experienced worker who has been in the workplace for a few years and has yet to fall in love with his career, there’s no better time than the present to give something new a try.

So what types of jobs lend themselves to autonomy? The same ones that attract introverts, who prefer to work alone. (Solitude is one way to describe what it’s like being the boss.) Introverts seek out jobs that allow them the freedom to complete their tasks independently. Forbes published a list of top jobs for introverts back in 2014. Here are the few that fit our criteria best:

  • Archivist: Not only does working at a museum or library significantly reduce your chances of having to converse with others, it also gives you a great deal of independence to do your job on your own. You may have to follow the archiving standards of the institution, but from there you’ll be set loose with nothing but a pair of white gloves to hold you back.
  • Social Media Manager: It sounds contradictory, but realize that all of the “social” aspects of the job are done on a computer and you’re the one in control. The trick is finding a company that will hire you and then trust you to own the project without micromanagement. Social media is still scary enough to most organizations that they just want someone to come in and make sure disaster is avoided. If you can do that well, you’ll earn more trust and more autonomy… and may even get to hire your own team.
  • Research or Field Scientist: It will take a lot of schooling, but once you earn your credentials you are the expert. Thus, you are the boss wherever you go. Scientists who devote their time to research or fieldwork are especially autonomous, only having to report their findings to whatever institution may have provided them with funding. Whether you’re a paleontologist leading an excavation or a psychologist leading a study on consciousness, you’ll be the one calling the shots.

Look for Creative Freedom

At the end of the day, wanting to be your own boss (or, at least, feel like it) is nothing more than wanting creative freedom. Most any job requires a certain amount of decision making, and at the heart of every decision is creative problem solving.

Some jobs come with such strict protocols that most decisions are made for you. Others give you the freedom to use your best judgement to come up with the best solution for the problem or challenge. These are the jobs that will give you the feeling of ownership over your work. These are the jobs that will make you feel in charge. Ironically, they’re also likely to be the ones that get the most out of you as a worker.