Are you a highly sensitive person wondering if self-employment would be right for you? If so, you are not alone.
Many highly sensitive people struggle with the physical and emotional overstimulation imposed on them by conventional workplaces and dream of striking out on their own.
I was once one of those dreamers myself! After much hemming and hawing, I finally started my own business several years ago.
Now, it would be totally dishonest of me to try to present self-employment as some kind of a panacea – it has its own set of challenges. But I sure find it easier to meet my HSP needs and thrive as a self-employed person than I ever did in my previous private sector jobs.
I’ve written about the upsides and downsides of self-employment for highly sensitive people on a more general level in an earlier article, but in this one, I wanted to give you a more personal look at the most important ways in which self-employment contributes to my wellbeing.
7 Ways Self-Employments Helps Me Meet My HSP Needs
1. I can work from home
I conduct all my coaching sessions online via Zoom, so everything I do for work, I can do from home. There’s no commuting, which saves a ton of time and helps me avoid the stress of rush hour traffic and crowded public transportation. There’s also no bright lights, nauseating perfumes, or sickening chemical smells that sometimes make me feel ill when I venture out in public. Noise levels are pretty manageable too. In other words, my work environment is as comfy as it gets! 🙂
Now obviously, working from home isn’t only reserved for the self-employed. I actually worked remotely in my last private sector job as well. And the COVID-pandemic has made remote work an every-day thing in a lot of organizations where it would have been out of the question just a couple of years ago.
But keep reading, as the rest of my list gets to be a little harder to achieve when you’re on someone else’s payroll!
2. I can work part time
I’m not a trust fund kid and I didn’t marry a gazillionaire, so I do need to work in order for our family of five to stay afloat. But I don’t always have the capacity to put in the 40 to 50 hours per week most conventional jobs require without compromising my health and wellbeing. I did it for 15 years and it pretty near did me in.
Well, as a self-employed person I don’t have to. I keep track of my work hours and I average roughly 20 to 30 hours per week. There are two things I love, love, love about working part time with all this flexibility. First, I love having no external pressure to exceed my capacity. Second, I really appreciate not having a set number of hours that I’m contractually obligated to work. This means that I can listen to my body rather than someone else’s bottom line. When I feel up to it, I work more. When other life stressors drain my capacity, I work less.
3. I can set my own hours
Having complete freedom and flexibility also allows me to set my own hours. I don’t work “9 to 5” or “10 to 6”. If I enjoyed working for long stretches at a time, I could of course keep a more condensed schedule. But for me it works better to have my work hours spread out all over the place with plenty of breaks in between. 🙂 I might work for 2 hours one day, 4 hours the next, and 7 the third. Or maybe I’ll work for a couple of hours in the morning, do something else for several hours, and then work a couple more hours in the evening. I have found that if I just let myself rest when I need it, I’ll be able to catch up later that day or on another day.
I also like having the freedom to decide “what I do when”. I do my best creative work in the mornings, so it helps to be able to dedicate several mornings every week to writing and course creation. Evenings are my social time so that’s when most of my client appointments are scheduled (in my time zone).
4. I can work at my own pace
I’m a typical highly sensitive person in that I like to take my time to process and I get flustered and stressed under time pressure. I do set schedules and deadlines for myself, because eventually “processing” will just turn into “overthinking” and “procrastination” and I do need to see some results. (Again, no trust fund! 😉 ) But after some trial and error, I have found a comfortable pace for myself where things do get done without too much hustle mentality.
5. I can choose how much I want to socialize
Here’s another way in which I’m a typical highly sensitive person. I like socializing but only until I reach my limit. I can’t socialize all day long, and with three kids thrown into the mix, I need to be mindful to make sure I get enough solitude to recharge. So I limit the number of appointments I take in any one day. Once that limit has been reached, my scheduler automatically closes appointments for the rest of that day.
6. I can choose who I work with
One thing that makes work-socializing much less draining than it would otherwise be is that I get to choose who I work with! Since the vast majority of my clientele are other highly sensitive people, I couldn’t ask for a more compassionate, kind, and considerate group of people to work with. HSPs are the best! 😀
Which brings me to my last point…
7. My work has purpose
Even if I did have a trust fund, I’m pretty sure I would still do the work I do anyway. Every highly sensitive person out there deserves to know why they may have been struggling and what they can do to lead a more fulfilling life. Every highly sensitive person out there deserves to recognize the gifts and talents they are carrying and learn how to spread their light without burning out. And if I can play a small role in helping to make that happen, then I can’t imagine any other work that would be more rewarding. 🙂
If you’d like help figuring out the right career options for YOU, I regularly serve as a mentor coach for my fellow HSPs who are trying to make up their minds regarding self-employment or who are already in the beginning stages of building their own business. Click here for more info on my HSP business coaching packages. My coaching services are location-independent with all sessions conducted online via Zoom.