When we say we want to be our own boss, we usually mean that we don’t want someone else telling us what to do. We don’t really want all the risk and responsibility of running a business single-handedly. We just want the freedom to work and create without limitations or criticisms.
People of all ages say they want to be their own boss. Children tell their parents “You’re not the boss of me,” teenagers defy anyone to boss them around, young adults take college classes in business management in the hopes of one day running their own business, and most adults who have a boss generally resent their servitude.
I am pretty much my own boss now that I’m retired, but do I get a lot of work done? Not really. Am I more creative than I used to be? No, in fact I’m less so. So what happened? Well, for one thing I don’t have to stick to a daily schedule, so I don’t get up at the same time every morning then shower and dress, pack a lunch, and get going before 8:00 AM. I can stay in bed until noon if I want to, and I don’t even have to get dressed! Shocking, I know. But, there is no boss to watch me clock in, so meh.
On the days when I do decide to get something done, I usually do the most enjoyable things first. I’ll check my email and Facebook, then potter around in the garden for an hour or two, or I’ll go for a nice leisurely walk. After that, I feel as though I’ve been active enough for one day so I have lunch, snooze on the couch for a while, then maybe cook something. After that, I will probably watch TV or cruise the Internet or both. The only boss who might condemn me for that is in the imagined voice of my mother.
If I decide to do more challenging things first, that’s when I get the most accomplished. I might do some writing, or decluttering, or volunteering, or file-sorting, or corresponding for a few hours. But when you don’t have a boss who wants evidence of productivity, those days become fewer and further between. The boss, or the boss’s influence, is the reason we start work on time and keep at it all day. Left to our own devices, most of us would probably get to work late, do less during the day, and quit early because…you guessed it…there would be no boss to make us accountable.
A boss is someone who cares what you are doing and how well you are doing it. They are also the reason that you get back to work after a lunch break. It doesn’t matter if your work involves flipping burgers or teaching astrophysics; someone somewhere wants to know you are doing a good job.
Retirement has many blessings, but being your own boss is not necessarily the nirvana you think it will be. You can be very self-disciplined and have lots of interests, but without someone who sees and approves your work, you will get lazy. After all, there’s always tomorrow to get whatever-it-is done.
I don’t want to be my own boss because I am so bad at it, but I don’t want anyone else to be my boss, either. If anyone tried to boss me around, they would get a flea in their ear. That is so contradictory it makes my brain hurt. I think I’ll go back to bed now.
Image: “There’s Nothing Wrong With Being Lazy Sometimes” by Neda Andel under license through Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0).