By January 17, 2012 Read More →

Why is an inferiority complex so often a home worker’s default setting?

Don't get an inferiority complex while home workingI’ve spoken to many home workers and freelancers over the last few years, and one of the common themes that comes up time and time again is the speed at which the human brain spirals down into self-doubt and lack of confidence when left too long to its own devices.

And solitary time is usually a big chunk of a home worker’s week, even if they are careful to plan for meetings and coworking.

‘Too long’ can mean a few hours of struggling with a piece of work, an hour of guilty procrastination, or a minute or two spent reading about other people’s achievements.

From the dining table room table or spare bedroom it can quickly start to appear that other people ‘out there’ are cleverer, better connected, lavishly funded and possessed of a dauntingly impressive client list.

Our own horizons and ambitions shrink proportionately – how can we, with our family commitments and our small local clients, possibly compete? By squeezing that time alone to the absolute minimum, I’d say from my own experience.

This time last year I was co-organising The BIG Jelly with Jan Minihane and Fay Easton. It took far more time and energy than any of us anticipated and we experienced setbacks throughout the six months of planning, in fact right up to the day itself.

There were many occasions when I wanted to cancel, but regular contact with Jan and Fay kept my spirits up and fortunately there was never a time when all three of us were feeling down at the same time! The event was a huge success and I think we were all thrilled and amazed by what we’d managed to achieve.

So I believe the best way to achieve your potential when you work from home is to stay connected, whether it’s through coworking, Jelly, networking or forming partnerships with other small businesses.

Yes, it means drawing on skills we don’t have to use if we pursue the solitary life, but it also means the opportunity to learn from other people and to realise what we’re really capable of.

PS As usual this post is written because I need to read it 🙂

Posted in: Isolation

12 Comments on "Why is an inferiority complex so often a home worker’s default setting?"

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  1. Judy

    I have to agree with this to a degree. From my perspective, as an architect perhaps I have an advantage to other businesses. Before ‘ploughing my own furrow’ I worked in several dynamic, creative, very busy design studios where to run/manage a successful design and construction project I was learning the skills of liaising/networking with many other team members who were outside of ‘The Office’. For the solitary ‘me’, the same is still true today and it is the shared ownership of projects with my networked team of consultants, that helps me realise ‘ I am not alone’. Networking and sharing work has been the key to successful working over the past 13 years. It’s brought in many jobs from unexpected places. Clients have appreciated the flexibility and total commitment and more than once have I (or should I say ‘we’?) supplanted a bigger office and design team, or won an architectural competition, for those reasons alone. So, as you say, stay connected, co work and don’t just see others as ‘competitors’: link up with others outside ‘your patch’ and realise that you actually have many advantages!

    • judy says:

      Yes, I think you’re lucky, Mark, in being in an industry where this is the model. For those of us who can work alone, it’s easy to do so more and more over time, because, let’s face it, we all experience disappointments and problems when other people are involved! It’s tempting to take on more and more yourself until you’re very isolated.

  2. Kate Cave says:

    That’s a great blog post Judy, and so true. I think when you’re left with yourself as company and no-one to bounce ideas off you can start to have unhelpful conversations in your head and no-one is there to stop you. I think it’s really good that you highlighted it so we can all be aware.

    Working from home can be great but there is a lot more to it than the 9-5 workers think!

    I look forward to reading future posts 🙂

    • judy says:

      Hi Kate, ‘unhelpful conversations in your head’ just about sums it up! And quite often they can happen without conscious awareness so it’s important to spot them and switch them off asap.
      There certainly is much more to working from home than appears at first sight. I always say it’s much more than just a change of location! You have to be prepared to take on the responsibility for so much more than just producing the work!

  3. Ana Hoffman says:

    I can definitely relate – and most of us, online business owners could, Judy.

    The world doesn’t understand us, makes us feel like black sheep – and it pushes us down, IF we let them.

  4. Ali Davies says:

    Judy, I agree about the need to proactively be connected when we work from home. But I think you post highlights another very important aspect. And that is the impact of our mindset on how we experience things and being aware of the things that pull down our mindset. As it is our thoughts that drive our feelings, which in turn drive our behaviour/actions and therefore, drives our results, getting to grip with understanding our own mindset and how we can upgrade it can be a very powerful tool for everyone, but especially for those of us that work alone.

  5. Judy says:

    I think being able to handle our own minds and emotions is one of the most vital factors in being successful as a home worker, Ali. Facing up to your own internal chatter can be quite a scary prospect – whoever would have guessed so much unhelpful stuff goes on in there!

    Thanks for the link to a helpful related article.

  6. Ruth Moser says:

    The other danger with working alone is that you loose perspective and can get overwhelmed with all the things that need doing. It is important to have input from other people. However, you have to choose carefully who you collaborate with on a business level – so much can go wrong.

    I was getting a bit bogged down this morning so I phoned a friend who said I was doing really well and that helped my mindset no end.

    • Judy says:

      So true – as you say, all we’re aware of is how much else there is to do to achieve what we want, but other people have a better perspective and can see how far we’ve come already. Sounds like you have a great supporter!

  7. Katie says:

    Good post! My husband works from home every day and I can sometimes see how the lack of real life interaction grates on him. His job is mainly on the phone and not having a coworker to vent to or chit chat with every once in a while is something I think he misses. I also notice when he has events to go to and needs to dress nicely, his attitude is so much better, more driven and confident.

    • Judy says:

      Thanks, Katie, it’s interesting to get the point of view of an observer. I wonder how much what we home workers wear affects our attitude, as well as going out to meet other people?