Change Catalyst with Shanna Mann: Strategy & Support for Sane Self-Employment

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Where Do You Go When You Get to ‘Enough’?

Here’s what I’ve been thinking about. I’ve been in this game for about 7 years now. During that time, I’ve seen some really neat ways to live. I’m not just talking about the woman who used her Filipino heritage and wasn’t just an expat but lived like a local in the South Pacific. I’m not talking about the numerous people questing across the world. Although they are cool, I like a more prosaic adventure.

  • People who unschool their kids
  • People who buy a homestead and live close to the land
  • People who patch together the most unlikely income streams to create a delightful life for themselves

I know one family who lives in a camper van with their daughter and travels the US sampling the wares at 3rd wave coffee shops. Both parents work as freelance writers.

There’s also a service aspect to lifestyle design that I think gets overlooked. I know a web designer who is passionate about  supporting women in technology and she gives a lot of her time to her local Lean In chapter.

You’ve no doubt seen numerous bloggers support things like Charity: Water and Pencils for Promise. But I also know people who beat the pavement in support of political campaigns, or who campaign on behalf of worthy causes like food wastage.

And that’s even leaving aside the enthusiastic hobbyist to spend their time in local Makerspaces or volunteering in Big Brothers/Big Sisters. I know entrepreneurs who keep bees, entrepreneurs attempting to bring their homes energy neutral with solar panels, permaculture enthusiasts, eco-tourism enthusiasts, bicycling enthusiasts; the list goes on and on.

This… isn’t a series of isolated weirdos

It was several years ago that I had my first client who came to the realization that she didn’t want to grow her business so much as get it to the point where she could focus her attention on volunteer work. Since that time I’ve been more attentive and I’ve noticed that lots of people have plans for what they’ll do when the business isn’t such a needy time suck. And lots of other people are already doing it.

If you’re deep in the weeds with your business, let me just sketch a quick picture of what this looks like:

  • You’ve been doing this for quite a while, to the point where you don’t really think about how to do things, you just do them.
  • You’re well established enough that you don’t need to work too hard to find clients. At this point, it only takes a few phone calls to scare up work or reorders. If you’re more of the mailing list persuasion, this means that you’ve sold enough stuff to pretty much know how much to expect from a launch or from ongoing sales.
  • Although you still occasionally feel the stress and fatigue that comes with owning your own business, for the most part the feast and famine cycle is behind you.

Now what?

For a long time I figured that people would just start another business, because that’s what I do. And some people do. I especially see people move from freelancer-style businesses to consulting-style businesses. They are usually either moving up the ladder to more rewarding work, or they’re moving from an active form of income to a more passive one.

And some people do something else.

It took me a long time to see this as a patterns because that “something else” is so varied.

Spend more time with family, of course, including home schooling and unschooling . Travel for sure. But also…

  • Learn blacksmithing
  • Become deeply involved in their local youth center
  • Start a craft blog
  • Delve into the world of foodies or homebrewing

That’s when I realized I was looking at the vanguard of a post-work society.

Post-work (or post-labour) is a society where fewer people need to work and yet living standards keep rising.

For a long time academics and futurists have posited the idea that once people’s needs are met they will stop working so much. And for decades that has rarely been the case. Between consumption-based economic drivers, and women clawing their way into the workplace, jobs=money=power.

But now the economic tides are shifting. With fewer cushy corporate jobs and more gigs, a lot of people are finding that the trade-off for a job is too high. They want too much of you, and they give too little back. So people start businesses. And they decide not to get big. They decide to go for enough.

And then — and here’s the really weird part — they do whatever they want.

CAN YOU IMAGINE?!

What’s the world coming to when people don’t chase the next promotion, the next race, the next bigger house? And whoever would have thought that some of the people first on the bandwagon would be the entrepreneurs? Aren’t we all supposed to be killing ourselves with overwork?

I’m sure you don’t read my words to hear about economics, but I find it really interesting. I have long believed that knowing how to build a business is the most empowering skill you can have — you’re literally MAKING money — but it’s also pretty neat to realize that unlike the capitalists of old, we’re taking that power and doing something other than building empires with it.

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