Ever since the internet became a thing, people have fantasized about doing virtual work or running a business online…
And for the longest time this dream was mostly about having more freedom.
No more “punching” in at the office 5 days a week. No more mindless meetings. No more feeling like you’re chained to a desk, 8 hours a day.
But here’s the thing…
The world has changed a LOT in the past few weeks. So many of our social structures — the things we took for granted, the things we never imagined would change — are transforming, crumbling and falling, right in front of us.
Social distancing is our new reality — at least for the foreseeable future — and it’s suddenly SUPER important to know exactly what it takes to run a successful online business or get paid to do some kind of virtual work from home.
I’ve been running an online business and working from home for going on 9 years now and I’m here to tell you that there are days that are beyond AWESOME… and there days when I wish I could throw in the towel!
And in today’s post I’m pulling back the curtain on exactly what it takes to successfully navigate this new world of work where a lot of people are being forced to “go virtual”…
A world where so many people are suddenly finding themselves alone, and stuck behind a computer all day every day.
The Chilling Truth About Our Reality
To this day my mom still asks me, “So what do you do again, Marisa?”
And my Dad sends me articles about cybersecurity because he believes it would be a great online program for me to create (since I work with “the internet” :-))
Don’t get me wrong…
I love that my mom and dad are interested in what I do and I love that they’re showing their support but the bottom line is they don’t have a clue about what I really do for a living!
Here’s the thing…
What we do as entrepreneurs is a big part of who we are but the online world is still pretty much unfathomable to a lot of people.
And when we feel we can’t talk about what we do to the people we love, and the people around us, it can trigger feelings of deep loneliness and isolation.
I recently came across Eric Pickersgill’s “Removed” photo series, which was published on Quartz and it shows people staring at their hands, where their phones are supposed to be.
The result is a sequence of creepy “zombie-like” images of people vacantly looking out into nothing, missing out on opportunities to connect and have real world conversations and relationships.
And it’s a chilling depiction of our reality today. It highlights just how disconnected we are in general and it got me to reflect on how isolated we can feel when so many of our interactions take place online.
But then I thought…
What if being a successful online entrepreneur isn’t a trade off?
What if you don’t have to choose between freedom and connection?
What if you could combine and meld your experiences in a way that significantly reduces — or even dissolves — isolation and loneliness?
Being Alone Vs Feeling Lonely
For most of us, doing work online means a lot of time — literally — being on our own.
But here’s the thing…
Being alone is not the same thing as feeling lonely.
You could feel lonely or feel like you don’t belong even when you’re in a room full of people.
And that’s why I happen to think combating loneliness as an entrepreneur isn’t just about joining a club or doing Tequila shots with friends at your neighborhood bar every Friday night 🙂
It’s not about doing something — anything — just so you’re not physically by yourself.
I personally found relief from loneliness and isolation when I stopped filling my time with random real world activities and consciously made an internal shift around HOW I approach my work here at Live Your Message.
I realized my work and everything I do is for my tribe, my community, my people.
I realized that even though I’m often alone here on my side of the screen, there are thousands of people who find value and meaning in what I do.
There are thousands of people who love me and my work and so I’m never alone and never lonely… not really.
And if you’re feeling lonely right now, if you’re feeling isolated, I recommend that you start to shift your thinking…
Know that you can form real relationships with your audience, your tribe and your community.
Know that you’re connected to your subscribers, students, clients and customers.
And when you create marketing campaigns, design your programs, record your videos or write your blog posts, focus on the people you’re serving and think about how you’re making a difference in their lives.
And, like me, you just might realize that you’re not as lonely as you thought you were.
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Having said that…
Know that just because you’re virtually connected to hundreds or thousands of people online doesn’t mean you get to skip real world relationships altogether!
We are not built to have zero human contact.
There’s simply no substitute for human connection and human interaction, and it’s why solitary confinement is considered cruel and unusual punishment in the prison system.
So it’s good to connect and build relationships in the real world (and in light of what’s going on with the Covid-19 situation right now, it goes without saying that we need to proceed with caution, conscious consideration and a deep sense of responsibility).
This afternoon my husband Murray and I are going to go on what we’re calling a “10′ distancing hike” with our friends Adam and Mariella to get in a little social time while maintaining distancing.My friend Eben Pagan says that the term “social distancing” is super dangerous and what we’re really doing is “physical distancing and social intimacy.”
It might seem obvious but it needs to be said…
Your business is not your boyfriend or your girlfriend.
Your business is not your partner.
Your business is not your best friend.
Your business cannot — and must not — be your everything.
But I want you to know this and I want you to make this intentional, internal shift…
When you’re all by yourself, tapping on your keyboard, your tribe online is just as real as your tribe offline. When you consciously connect with them in your heart and mind as you do the work to serve them at the highest level, you’ll never feel lonely again.
And if you’re looking to be part of a community that can help support you in your work and create a sense of belonging…
If you’re looking to be part of a group of positive, supportive, like-minded folks…
I’d love to invite you to join our free Live Your Message Every Day Facebook Group where the vibe is always high and creative ideas, love and support flow freely 🙂
Over to you…
Ever struggled with loneliness as an online business owner?
Share your thoughts and stories in the comments. We’re all part of the Live Your Message tribe so let’s connect and share the love 🙂