Handling the surprises of independence

It’s after 8pm. I’m writing this from a rose gold mac I bought unexpectedly this afternoon. Let me back up. This story actually began yesterday.

Mondays are meeting days.

After 10 years of working for myself, I've learned that meetings are a much different kind of work than writing and creating products. One requires people skills while the others requires deep thinking and processing. Rather than spend the entire week doing mental context switching, I lump all my meetings onto one day. I picked Monday. I typically have as little as four and some days as many as eight. Yesterday the count was five.

Of the introverted sort, by Tuesday morning I’m people’d out and ready for some solitude. I love spending the day tucked into a corner alone with my laptop. After my morning yoga routine, that's how today started.

I planned to write all day.

At 11am I was merrily typing away, writing a newsletter for you. I noticed my power was only at 85%, despite being plugged in. I kept writing. At noon the power bar still read 85%. Hmm. Something was wrong. I quit writing and focused on my failing computer. Here's how I spent the the rest of my day.

Google variations of “Macbook not charging"

Try multiple solutions.

Google some more.

Fiddle with the computer some more.

Give up on computer.

Make a Genius appointment.

Eat a fast lunch.

Take train to the Apple store.

Bad news: computer needs to be sent out to be repaired.

More bad news: I’ll be without a computer for five days.

As a business owner who’s launching a website for a client and running a large training course for another, I simply can't be without a computer. And since I work for myself, no one was just going to solve this work dilemma. So, while I was planning to be rearranging words, instead I sat in the Apple Store making multiple, last-minute decisions.

- Get the computer fixed now or wait? 

- Once fixed, have computer sent home or to the Apple store?

- What do I use in the interim — use very old computer or buy a new one?

- Which computer should I buy? 

- Should I purchase the business service to get faster service in the future?

By the time I’d made all these decisions, it was time to decide what to eat for dinner. I didn’t get back to writing until 7:30pm.

What a busy, unproductive day. 

If I worked for someone else I’d simply hand my computer to IT, get a loaner and keep going. Instead, I had to stop and make a bajillion decisions I hadn’t anticipated. When I first started working for myself I found this frustrating. I’d end the day stressed about everything that wasn’t done. Now I anticipate the unexpected. Though I never know when surprises are going to happen, I know they will.

So today instead of getting frustrated, I joked with the repair supervisor and the sales guy who had just moved from Iowa. We had fun with my last minute purchase deciding to act like a “princess” and get rose gold, just for fun.

As a business owner you just can’t expect things to always run smoothly. That means sometimes you spend your day staring at a million unexpected decisions.

I didn’t plan to write about a day in the life of an independent. I planned to write about how to avoid feeling evil while having a personal brand for your business. But my computer had other plans.

I’m actually glad it happened. It allowed me to give you a glimpse into the life of this independent. The real life. Not the having mimosas for breakfast, sitting poolside in the afternoon in a foreign country kind that gets often gets celebrated. Working for yourself rarely looks like that. It looks more like making lots of decisions with imperfect information and moving forward despite obstacles. And, feeling stronger with each decision you make.

Facing unexpected problems and decision fatigue is a common problem for independents. And it’s not just applicable to newbies — even experienced independents struggle. For more on dealing with the surprises that independence throws at you, here's my latest article.

In case you’re wondering: I got the mac fixed, had it sent to the Apple store, bought a new rose gold macbook and will purchase the business service so next time my computer is home in 48 hours. Oh, and I had the guacamole greens salad for dinner. Easiest decision I made all day.

Always say yes to avocado.


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