The siren song of the cubicle

Every so often I hear the siren song of the cubicle. “Come back,” she sings, “And I’ll take care of those pesky taxes and healthcare for you. I might even throw in retirement.”

The truth about creating your “dream job” is that it’s still a job. No matter how much you love what you do, you still have bills to pay — and Uncle Sam will always come to collect.

Before you quit the cubicle, everything is leading up to that moment. It’s what keeps you going when things get tough. But what keeps you going after that? There is no destination on the horizon when running your own business, some magical day you can work toward when everything suddenly pays off.

As much as I wanted it to be true, there is no point on this journey where you feel like you finally have your shit together, and it’s smooth sailing from there. There are days, even months, when the sun is shining bright, the breeze is just right, and everything is moving along as it should.

We all know what happens next…

But there are also days, even months, of hurricane-force winds and waves threatening to wash you overboard. And that’s when you hear the faint song of the cubicle, luring you with the promise of something better.

But that’s all it is: An empty promise. She commands a high price: Freedom. Freedom to work when and how you want, with no limitations on what you can do or what you’re allowed to earn.

And that’s the destination on the horizon: To say you lived a life of freedom. To say you spent your time doing what you loved. It takes a lifetime to get there, but you’re in charge of the journey. If you don’t like the water, sail somewhere else.

It’s a perfectly natural cycle of owning a business, and you are not alone. We all hate our businesses from time to time. We feel apathetic, like we’re just going through the motions. We feel uninspired and totally not in the mood to work, even if it’s something we thought we liked. We browse job listings.

Speaking from my own recent slump, the way you get through is one day at a time. Make time for things you enjoy, or used to enjoy and haven’t done in a while. Start a personal project. Do something creative that has nothing to do with money. Eventually you’ll find you enjoy the work you actually do for money again. The skies will clear, the breeze will move in, and the siren song will become a distant memory.

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